Electric – Tesla Coils

I think the one of best parts of the Wisconsin Dells trip we went on a few years back was the Tommy Bartlett’s Exploratory, an interactive science museum.

We saw a real working Tesla Coil

is a type of  resonant transformer circuit invented by Nikola Tesla around 1891.It is used to produce high voltage, relatively high current, high frequency alternating current electricity. Tesla experimented with a number of different configurations and they consist of two, or sometimes three, coupled resonant electric circuits.  Tesla used these coils to conduct innovative experiments in electrical lighting, phosphorsence, x-ray generation, high frequency alternating current phenomena, electrotherapy, and the transmission of electrical energy without wires.

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You can check out someone’s musical Tesla Coils playing the Sugar Plum Fairy on Youtube.

I read Margaret Cheney’s biography Tesla: Man Out of Time not too long ago.  From her book, I read something interesting.

The following is a description of Tesla doing the scientific equivalent of a magic tricks for his guests – English journalist Chauncey McGovern, American humorist Mark Twain, and actor Joseph Jefferson, one midnight in his Manhattan loft/laboratory, as recalled by McGovern:

Fancy yourself seated in a large, well-lighted room, with mountains of curious looking machinery on all sides. A tall, thin young man walks up to you, and by merely snapping his fingers creates instantaneously a ball of leaping red flame, and holds it calmly in his hands. As you gaze you are surprised to see it does not burn his fingers. He lets it fall upon his clothing, on his hair, into your lap, and, finally, puts the ball of flame into a wooden box. You are amazed to see that nowhere does the flame leave the slightest trace, and you rub your eyes to make sure you are not asleep.

One of Mark Twain’s quotes is said to have come about due to his knowledge of Tesla’s work:

…Thunder is good, thunder is impressive, but it is lightning that does the work.

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4 Responses to Electric – Tesla Coils

  1. What a great trip! It’s a shame these days that field trips are being cut back for budget cuts and teaching how to pass standardized testing. Seeing these great experiments and inventions in person is the way to get students passionate about science!

  2. theexplorationstation says:

    Thanks Benjamin.

    Yeah, I’m kind of nutty, always bringing my kids to all kinds of science museums and historical re-enactments (living historical farms, civil war reenactments, wild west towns). Oh, and speaking of wild west towns. There was a show husband and I used to watch called Wild West Tech on the history channel. It was crazy cool!

    It’s fun for all of us to do such neat things with them.

  3. Joan Budai says:

    How neat! We lived in Alaska when our kids were growing up, so there weren’t too many other states we could travel to on field trips. However, we lived on a farm, so our students got to see ‘science experiments’ such as watching animals giving birth daily! Our youngest even hatched duck eggs to sell in her grandfather’s feedstore. She learned so much, and we even created a children’s book about it!

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