Giant Sparks To Thrill Visitors At Exposition (Nov, 1936)

While not quite to this scale, Greg Leyh had an amazing pair of 9-foot tall Tesla Coils this weekend at Maker Faire.

Maker Faire was unbelievably cool and wonderful. All of the exhibits were great and the everybody was incredibly warm and generous. It was a very heartening experience. If you can, I highly recommend you go when they do it all again in Austin this October.

Giant Sparks To Thrill Visitors At Exposition

PEERING into a cylindrical cage eighty feet in diameter and equally tall, visitors to the international exposition at Paris, France, next summer, will see one of the world’s most powerful high-voltage electric generators in action. Ten-foot-long sparks will snap between huge brass spheres mounted on insulating pillars, with a sound like the cracking of a giant whip. Should any of the sparks go astray, they will be harmlessly grounded by the metal cage, which safeguards the spectators from their terrific power. Operators will control the spectacular display from within the hollow spheres, where, strangely enough, they will be equally safe.

In principle, the Paris machine will resemble a monster high-voltage generator already in operation in a dirigible hangar at Round Hill, Mass. (P.S.M., Jan., ’32, p. 19). Endless belts of rubberized cotton, whirling within the pillars at mile-a-minute speed, will pile up charges of static electricity upon the metal spheres. When a 5,000,000-volt potential is reached, the discharge will occur.

Behind the unusual exhibit lies a romantic story. The super-generator has long been the dream of Mme. Irene Curie Joliot, daughter of the discoverers of radium, and her husband and scientific collaborator, Prof. Jean Frederic Joliot, who startled physicists two years ago by announcing the artificial production of radioactivity. Just such a machine was needed to pursue their experiments in making artificial radium, but funds to build it were lacking. Then the idea occurred to them of exhibiting it at the fair in order to pay for it. After the exposition, the powerful generator will be moved to their laboratory for the important research work.

  1. Rick Auricchio says: May 21, 20077:02 pm

    Cool! Now they need to make the cage spherical, and have three motorcycles racing around inside!

  2. Charlie says: May 21, 200710:35 pm

    Heh, that would rock.

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