High voltage “Air threads”

High voltage “Air threads”

For maximum fun we want to combine… high-voltage, water, and dry ice. This is a little negative
ion generator. Puts out about seven thousand volts,
hooks right to AC. Couple of different places sell it.
“Electronics Goldmine” is one of them. The ground goes to the power line, and that’s the negative high-voltage. And then we need cookie tray painted black, or get a non-stick black cookie tray. Dry ice… chopped up into little pieces. Add some water… not too hot.
Room temperature water. We don’t want it ice cold, real hot water doesn’t work either. Some dry ice chunks. And support your cookie sheet on
high voltage insulation. Styrofoam, or plastic cups or something. Add high voltage. Oh, these things are about
sixty micro amps, so no real electrocution hazard. Plug the thing in… And if it works I should get
little zaps. Oop, yeah. Let’s move the chunks
out of the way so we have a nice layer of fog in the middle. And wave your hand around. Ooo, see that? If it doesn’t work, lick your fingers and touch them to clothing, because you want to pick up
microscopic pieces of lint. There’s a good one. Look at that.
Or actually two. Oops, running low on dry ice. Here’s a piece of paper:
torn, paper strip taped and shaped into a triangle. If I hold
this above it watch what happens. See the triangle?
Oh, let me try again. Millions of little air flows come off the torn lint, torn fibers of the paper. It’s electric wind, following the lines of the E-field Oh here are some sharp needles from
the negative ion generator. They have a different effect. Pow! Blowing huge air flows, disrupting the fog layer. It appears that conductive metal shoots out fairly high current. So, microamps. Whereas organic fibers, they’re down in the nanoamps or
maybe picoamps. but still there’s enough of an air flow
or ion flow, or whatever this is, to punch little slots in the fog. More experiments with this high voltage “air thread” phenomenon are on my website. There are things like… you can use deflection plates. I had sixty cycles
of a few thousand volts, and made the threads
move back-and-forth, and when i moved a charged object
near them as well, I could see a sine wave. So I’d
made a mechanical oscilloscope. Drawing sine waves in the fog. If you blow across them
with a soda straw, it doesn’t disrupt them. They’ll move
a little bit. So whatever these are, they’re going very fast, like maybe ten or twenty miles an hour compared to the flow of air through a soda straw. The original phenomenon was
discovered by the late Charles Yost, a Tesla coil experimenter. He ran
“Electric Spacecraft Journal.” That journal is still going. But he discovered
them using Schlieren Photography. He was looking to see if any kind of E-field phenomenon was visible, and he found these strange lines. I always wondered how you could visualize or work with those
besides using Schlieren photography, and then in 1998 at a
Seattle Weird Science meeting, we were playing with dry ice chips and I happened to have a
high voltage power supply, and I was using needles to
blow the dry ice fog around, and when the high voltage wire
sort of swung across the layer of fog, it carved all these little
valleys in there. I wondered what the hell was going on. It turned out that lint clinging to the high voltage wire on
another negative ion generator, used as power supply, the lint on the wire was spitting out
these little little filaments of whatever it is. And as that moved across
the dry ice fog layer, and the hot water, it made little lines. That’s how the current bunch of “air thread” experiments started. Oh, if you do a lot of work with these
little seven thousand volt, low current power supplies, you might want to build one
into a nice little case. Less chance of spilling water on the
120 volt connections.

100 thoughts on “High voltage “Air threads”

  1. Click on the website link.

    The "threads" are blocked by anything. They can be pushed around by charged objects.

    If we could detect them when they impact a surface, perhaps we could use one as a microscope by raster-scanning it across a tiny object above that surface.

  2. I don't get it, i thought Ions were atoms that don't have neutral net charge? What ions are being generated? Won't the generator get lighter and lighter after using it?

  3. Might be air ions. Or might be bits of the sharp electrode, sort of like nano-smoke particles. Ions are pretty small.

    If the electrode is losing atoms, perhaps the sharp tip eventually becomes dull. But if it becomes sharper as it erodes, then it might take millenia before significant loss of matter was detected.

    A 10 nanoamp current, say, would lose 1e-8/1.6e-19 atoms/sec, or 1e-13 moles per second, or .00004 grams per year, for carbon ions torn from an organic electrode.

  4. Everything else has already been done. Done repeatedly. But people have been terrified of dry ice for decades, so nobody knows about all the cool tricks.

    Mosly I only post new ideas of my own, never stuff found in books. Let other people steal ideas, I want to be the first with new ones.

    Stay awake for several days while eating only dry meat, almonds, asparagus, beer. You'll have ideas. Some new ones.

  5. After adding the water and dry ice, try laying a piece of glass over the cookie sheet, then see if the lines still appear. I recall something similar in a science text and it was supposed to make traces of the cosmic wind visible in the cloud.

  6. it's not airflows, CO2 is just nonpolar and moves out of the way of the electric field. if airflows like you're explaining actually existed, batteries would generate wind.

  7. > if airflows like you're explaining actually existed,

    I think you should search on keywords "ion wind." Also "corona wind." Also "electric wind."

    Batteries do generate wind. Stack up cells to create a few KV, and any sharp edges on battery terminals will create corona discharge and launch some ion wind.

  8. what do you mean better?

    do you mean safer?

    if you meant that then i would say dc. since it has a less chance of killing you… >_>

  9. They were $3.50 at All Electronics when they first appeared. But they sold out after a year, then Electronics Goldmine started carrying them. I've seen them on Chinese bulk dealer sites.

  10. I don't know if your term of Micro amps is our norwegian term of Mili amps – but you only need about 0.33 mili amps to kill a person 😛 Amps kill people! not voltage! Just some information for you guys to have fun

  11. The black and white wires are hooked to the AC cord. I use butt-crimp connectors, but you could use wire nuts. Make sure the connections are kept separate and completely covered (use black electrical tape.)

  12. You are an inspired tinkerer! I would call you a genius but that word is over used and ill defineed. Have you thought of becoming a teacher or working in a science museum?

  13. I ran the tech section of Museum of Sci. in Boston for five years. I had to quit after getting married (you can't raise a family on science museum pay.) Teacher salary is quite a bit better, but nothing like average pay for software or electronics work.

  14. maybe the army could use the airflow that comes with the ionisation of air to clear smoke from enemy tanks (tactical smoke used for hiding your tank to get out of the battle)

  15. You could try making a weather model and see if it checks out. Something like the setup above but with a watercurrent running through which is strongest at the middle, then evening out towards the top and bottom to fake the coriolis-force or something. Locally heating the water would be pretty hard though 🙂

  16. Back when I was a kid, I got one of those science experiment kits that included building a cloud chamber. It included a little pinhead of radium and some water and dry ice. Once the cloud formed, you could see ion trails from the radium in the little chamber – which was about the size of a dixie cup.

    I wonder if this isn't something similar.

    BTW was a big fan of Mr. Wizard and quite enjoy your videos.

  17. I don't know if this would be to complicated or not, but do you think you could build a simple voltage doubler or multiplier? And could you make a video of a Leyden Jar? Thanks!

  18. I spent a very good part of my life in labs doing work in materials science. One thing I have finally figured out is how to spot someone that is genuine and brilliant. Also clearly gifted. It is a terrible shame we don't have teachers in every school with even half your passion and fascination. Truely .. I am happy to have found your videos. Please, never stop doing whatever it is that drives you and fuels your quirky personality. I suspect Pascal and J.C. Maxwell were similar people too!

  19. > pick up alpha/beta

    Maybe, but I doubt it. Cloud chambers use a supersaturated air layer created with 100F temperature gradient. Get a slab of dry ice, wrap it in alcohol-soaked black cloth.

  20. >owls are

    Owls see by moonlight. They can see into darker areas because their mirror eyes will bounce out the light from bright scenery. Try looking into a dark open window while outdoors on a sunny day. The light bouncing around inside your eyes will keep you from seeing anything in the window unless you cup your hands around your face to block unwanted light. Owls and cats don't need that, since light doesn't bounce around inside their eyes.

  21. > Ion Wind?

    Probably not. It works best with slightly damp fibers. It doesn't work at all with sharp metal needles. Perhaps it's a variety of "Electrospray," micro-droplets of liquid being pulled off the fiber tip. They would quickly evaporate, leaving charged dry particles of solute behind. (Electrospray was once used for one form of inkjet printer. Also look up high-voltage "electrospinning" of nano-scale fibers.) Or perhaps it's similar to smoke, where plasma burns the fiber itp.

  22. > 6,000V

    That should do 'er! Actually, polarity seems not to matter. Hmmm, I never tried turning the voltage down to see how low you can go. For higher volts, the emitter can be farther from the fog plate. (For a VandeGraaff machine, it can be a couple of yards away!)

  23. @soryy708 lol crt makes x-rays.. It is due to the electron beams used to draw the picture on the screen..

  24. So many stupid comments. Perhaps this effect could be used on a vehicle to blow away fog when driving. It would be nice to have the fog flee before you as you drive. Get on that idea, could make you quite the chunk of cash if it works out.

  25. @johnsdevid Nope, it's incredibly feeble. It's like trying to feel some cigarette smoke. But as your hand approaches, the hole in the fog will deflect as the charge on your body affects the stream. (Your body always has some small pos or neg charge except on very humid days.)

  26. @plinnyful ?2007? I was the dry ice madman in Center House, in goggles and white labcoat, trying to put chunks of dry ice in people's coffee and water bottles.

  27. do magnets taped to the paper have any effect ? sort of lie flat magnets taped at various palces to see if the lines are drawin something other than "straight lines" —
    if that's how they propogate ….
    perhaps this is a similar phenomenon to the electron gun – used in CRT tubes, etc ?? !!
    just guessing and enjoying the "new" phenomenon….

  28. If simple needles have such effects, just think about what is doing the Tower Eiffel in Paris…

  29. My explanation: water is a polar molecule. By using a charged or chargeable object, like a piece of paper or a hand, water vapor is attracted and also aligns with the electric field. The pressure increases, due the higher density of water, and pushes air out of the more intense electric field. Given that CO2, that is, dry ice, is apolar, it gets pushed only by the air. The result it is tha the shape of the object is printed above the water surface, as a hole.

  30. Yeah it. Will shock the hell out of u I was screwing with a air purifier it had a negative ion ribbon on the grill I touched it while some how my foot was touching a tv cable splice and bang zap

  31. Yep, just like old TV sets, those smoke precipitators don't try to be safe inside. But the little one in the above video is fairly harmless. I think it's designed to get wet (like in an ionizing blow dryer.) Just don't use it to charge a Leyden Jar.

  32. Look up images of "hole punch clouds." Some of those could be from ion streams. Most are caused by descending aircraft though.

  33. One goes to -7KV, the other goes to AC neutral. Both have 1meg resistors in series to eliminate any possible 120VAC shock hazard.

  34. hey mr beaty, known of your majestic experiments for some time now, felt i shoudl offer a comment. Did you ever inspect any literature on Oliver Heaviside and Professor Wheatstone? and the speed of an electrostatic discharge as given by tesla as pi/2 * C and wheatstone in a 4 mile transmission line segmente to be 291,000 miles per second.

    My thoughts are particuarlyl, what happened to the speed of light and the extra 105,000 miles an hour from the previous ratios, no explanation forth


  35. Just a thought. Could you try a vapor produced with Ultrasonic sound waves? ( like air humidifiers) The speed of your waves are more in line with the speed of sound. My guess is they are 1 1/5  hour long waves.( six colors of the rainbow) 18 sets a day (3 rainbows x 6 colors – 3 wave electromagnetic wave) with a three day cycle. The entire electromagnetic wave turns inside out in six days. You mention 20 MPH that would go around the earth 18 times a day 20 x 18 = 360  x 2 North & south 720  x 3 days = 2160 miles. Keep me informed!  

    Sound 767- MPH  = 10 planets  x 8 cartesian quadrants.
    20MPH x 2 (N&S)  = 80 x 10 colors of rainbow (B, W, 6 Colors, Clear, Rose)  = 800 = Mercury the 80th element x ten planets!
    Ultrasonic would be a room temperature mist. Better yet if it is 98.6 degree water! = the bubbles – water particles are mirrors.

  36. > any thoughts on power generation

    @matt_jensen The level of power generation that Tesla was discussing (hundreds of HP for a car, megawatts for every city) are not appropriate for contemporary humanity.   If we're going to take a chance with accidentally shifting Earth's axis, at least wait until we have thriving communities out in the asteroid belt/Mars/L5.

  37. Hey Bill- I enjoy all your projects!  Did you know that you can create these same threads of "electric wind" without the high voltage supply?  I can do it by simply running a comb through my hair to charge it up: Electrostatic "Wind"

  38. but im wearing a plastic rain jacket and its not working 🙁 (just joking but that would be really annoying)

  39. Hi there Bill, I'm still trying to get the time to read your whole webpage, and meanwhile I found this… and I got really puzzled at 2:08 when your finger actually displays two air strings… First question… Why two?? But second question I think it's more puzzling: why do both strings keep the relative orientation??? I can only think of Earth's magnetic field. Do you think you could take a compass to the filming location and check it?
    thanks and best wishes!

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