×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Huge Tesla Coils Will Recreate Natural Lightning

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the warm-up-the-lightning-cannon dept.

Science 199

jjp9999 writes "In order to study the nature of lighting, the team at Lightning on Demand (LOD) plans to build two, ten-story-tall Tesla coils—the largest ever—that will blast arcs of lightning hundreds of feet in length. LOD founder Greg Leyh said the project aims to reveal details on the initiation process of natural lightning, an area that remains a mystery, since smaller generated arcs have more trouble breaking through the air. It is believed that 'laboratory-scale electric arcs start to gain lightning-like abilities once they grow past about 200ft in length,' according to the LOD website, and so the team hopes to build Tesla coils large enough to do this. According to Leyh, 'Understanding how lightning forms [and grows] is the first step towards being able to control where lightning strikes or being able to suppress it completely in certain areas.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

199 comments

Exciting! (4, Funny)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184472)

I can't wait for the SyFy movie based on the 'true story' :)

Re:Exciting! (-1)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184634)

Ironically yesterday there was a SyFy movie about the topic of a madman controlling the weather from his iPhone.

Re:Exciting! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184676)

Ironically yesterday there was a SyFy movie about the topic of a madman controlling the weather from his iPhone.

There's a zap for that.

Re:Exciting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184814)

That's not ironic.

Re:Exciting! (1)

Doctor Morbius (1183601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184822)

That's not irony. That's just a coincidence.

Re:Exciting! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185154)

That's not irony. That's just a coincidence.

It's not much of a coincidence; nothing coincided. Technically it's an example of 'something slightly relevant to this conversation'.

Re:Exciting! (0)

mark_reh (2015546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184906)

I actually saw a post from someone on the Gizmodo site claiming that it was dangerous to use a cell phone during a storm because "it might attract lightening (sic)". When probed to explain further he said that the electromagnetic field between the phone and antenna tower would provide a path for the lightening (sic).

It was such an interesting idea (I don't know where he got it from) I thought it would make a good story about a geek figuring out a way to murder someone by calling their cell phone during a storm so that lightning traveled along the EM field between the cell tower and the phone, killing the called person. The caller would be somewhere safe- like in another state where there was no storm- when he called, of course.

Re:Exciting! (3, Interesting)

germansausage (682057) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185028)

At the risk of sounding like a dick, I have to say that's not even wrong. Lightning and em fields don't work that way.

Re:Exciting! (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185166)

At the risk of sounding like a dick, I have to say that's not even wrong. Lightning and em fields don't work that way.

Well, since we're discussing SyFy Channel movies, I have to say that not a single one of them has ever been based on anything resembling science, science-fiction or reality. Really, you'd think they could at least consult a local college physics instructor before throwing this crap out there. Of course, the only difference between a SyFy Channel flick and a Roland Emmerich production is that he a. gets bigger name actors and b. spends more on special effects that ten year's worth of SyFy's movie budgets.

Re:Exciting! (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185204)

Haven't most of the SyFy(lis) channels movies been cheap monster movies, with but a single monster each?

Not all, just most.

Re:Exciting! (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185454)

Haven't most of the SyFy(lis) channels movies been cheap monster movies, with but a single monster each? Not all, just most.

Yeah, pretty much. There was the one flick that had none other than Stargate's Samantha Carter in it, where some kind of new power plant generated an artificial black hole that (of course) threatened the entire planet. There was another where a cache of pterodactyl eggs hatched and a whole bunch of the things were flying around eating people. And of course, one of the single-monster jobs you mentioned, starring Corin Nemec.

I can't believe I've actually watched those movies. I don't anymore. Besides, since the SyFy (gack!) Channel kinda lost focus and started going after viewers that haven't got a clue what science-fiction actually is I don't even have them in my lineup.

Re:Exciting! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185070)

I thought it would make a good story about a geek figuring out a way to murder someone by calling their cell phone during a storm so that lightning traveled along the EM field between the cell tower and the phone, killing the called person.

Man, that's just retarded. I hope you write a book, I would buy it and smoke a gram of dope before I read it just to laugh at how stupid it is.

Were you a writer for Aqua Teen Hunger Force?

Re:Exciting! (4, Informative)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185080)

the electromagnetic field between the phone and antenna tower would provide a path for the lightening

To make the lightning actually hit the poor sod on the phone, you would need to ensure that the bridge generated by the field between the phone and tower was the path of leaast resistance for the lightning to follow. While it may create a path of (microscopically lower than the air) lower resistance, it would still need to become the optimal path - which is where it would fall down.

You would have more luck trying to get the guy to play golf swinging metal sticks around, or better yet stand on top of a sand dune in the desert during a storm. In fact it would be much easier to try to rig the house of the person and call their landline (as long as it isn't a wireless phone, but one of the old fashioned curly cord types) and get the lightning to to id that way. There are many more documented cases where lightning has travelled along phone cables [snopes.com] . This is because the resistance differential offered by a metal cable is in the order of many many magnitudes higher then the resistance differential offered by an EM field.

It's like trying to divert a huge river with two options, one is a path in the sand drawn with your finger (That's the EM field) and the other option to divert is with a Panama sized canal (that's the metal phone cable). The lightning will try to pick the path of least resistance from the clouds to the ground, but the likelihood that the path just happens to be the EM field caused by the phone signal is so miniscule that it is almost not plausible. A wet tree, a telegraph pole, an overhead wire, a nearby hill or even a lightning rod would almost always provide a path of lower resistance.

Not saying it isn't theoretically possible, but to be able to "set it up" to happen just at the right moment when a call is made to "kill" the person isn't realistically plausible.

Re:Exciting! (4, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185180)

Not saying it isn't theoretically possible, but to be able to "set it up" to happen just at the right moment when a call is made to "kill" the person isn't realistically plausible.

Well, if you had a high-powered microwave beam capable of ionizing the air above the person you are trying to assassinate you might have better luck. Of course, from a practical standpoint you might as well just cook him with the thing and forget the lightning.

Re:Exciting! (2)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185202)

Of course, from a practical standpoint you might as well just cook him with the thing and forget the lightning.

Yup, it could in theory be done, but by the time you address all the things that you would need to, there would be a multitude of other ways to achieve the same purpose that were more reliable, easier and more believable to a reader of a science fiction story.

Re:Exciting! (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185690)

Shine a UV laser beam from near the top of a high building (with the lightning rods disconnected from the ground) to the guy with the phone. That could ionize a conductive path to the victim, which the lightning could follow on its way through the victim to the ground. Use the cell phone signal as the trigger to greatly increase the beam strength (to give the friggin' cell phone a role in this Rube Goldberg scheme). Also maybe shine another one straight up into the storm.

Complicated? Of course not. Simple as pie. :D All in a day's work. Why, I have a portable 100 watt UV laser right here in my back pocket!

Re:Exciting! (3, Funny)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184880)

I will never forgive the SyFy channel for perverting the spelling of "Sci-Fi".
Not to mention killing off Stargate... or any decent show for that matter. We're now stuck with rubbish like Eureka.
Maybe they've done some surveys and decided that their target audience should actually be a bunch of retards.

Re:Exciting! (5, Insightful)

Macrat (638047) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184942)

We're now stuck with rubbish like Eureka.

Eureka has been canceled.

You are stuck with rubbish like Ghost Hunters.

Re:Exciting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185106)

And WWE Raw (or whatever the 'proper' name is.)

Re:Exciting! (4, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185352)

I will never forgive the SyFy channel for perverting the spelling of "Sci-Fi".

Bonnie Hammer's successor stated that it was because they couldn't get copyright on "Sci-fi".

Not to mention killing off Stargate... or any decent show for that matter. We're now stuck with rubbish like Eureka.

They've had a history of that. Take Sliders for example. They tried very hard to kill it off because "it wasn't getting the numbers we wanted." Cast changes, writer changes ... but it was still popular. Ms. Hammer, in her infinite wisdom, ultimately decided that Sci-Fi couldn't afford to keep it in production because they'd committed to a season of "Next Wave", in her words "a guaranteed hit." Turned out to be a guaranteed flop, but by then Sliders was history.

Maybe they've done some surveys and decided that their target audience should actually be a bunch of retards.

Yes, considering that they've put on psychics, wrestling, and a number of other drain-bamaged shows in an effort to broaden their viewer base. Hey, dimbulbs ... what color is the sky in your world? John Edwards is not science fiction! There are plenty of other cable channels that cover that crap: I tuned in to their channel because they were offering something special. In the end, what they achieved was the alienation of the viewers who watched their programming because it was the SCIENCE-fiction channel!

The only retards here are the drain-bamaged fools run that operation. The Sci-Fi Channel, back in its heyday with the likes of Sliders, Stargate and other great shows was about the only reason I bothered to have cable TV. Certainly wasn't for the lame selection of movies that most cable companies offer. Now they spend millions making some of the most incredibly bad movies (and I mean bad ... not "so bad they're good", they're just stupid) rather than pumping that capital into some more quality TV series.

It's even more depressing when I see all the ex-Stargate actors and actresses showing up in SyFy's movies.

Re:Exciting! (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185124)

I can't wait for the SyFy movie based on the 'true story' :)

There was one SyFy (I still choke when I type that) where they had to use a giant Tesla-coil-like thing at some Arctic research base to realign the Earth's magnetic field or some such nonsense. It was on TV one evening: the movie was so bad I had to turn it off.

Re:Exciting! (1)

Aerynvala (1109505) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185556)

I hate writing SyFy for the channel as well. And that's unfortunate re the movie. I can enjoy a certain type of bad movie, when they have fun with it and are at least interesting.

Blasfemy (1)

gsiliceo (1744344) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184474)

No man will ever control lightningt, ever! Thats the privilege of a god.

Re:Blasfemy (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184622)

Don't worry, I spoke to the invisible pink unicorn (blessed be her holy hooves) and she is fine with it.

The One true One. Her Horniness. She whose hooves many never be shod. Her Pinkness.

Re:Blasfemy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184636)

Princess Celestia is white. Be thou not fooled by cheap toys!

Re:Blasfemy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184646)

DRINK YO PRUNE JUICE BRONY

Re:Blasfemy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185312)

Princess Celestia is white. Be thou not fooled by cheap toys!

Is it wrong that I heard that in Luna's voice?

Back on topic, here's Princess Celestia, and a whoppingly-huge electrical discharge: I really like her mane [ponibooru.org]

Wasn't this mentioned a week ago? (5, Informative)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184478)

Just like a video game! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184484)

Sounds like something out of c&c red alert

Re:Just like a video game! (1)

Teeroy32 (2512400) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185548)

Thats exactly what I was thinking, and the fact they kept mentioning LOD, just change the L to a N, the brotherhood of NOD are are about to attack and these Tesla Coils are the perfect defense. Just need a fleet of mammoth tanks with 2 turrets and a set of rocket launchers each, a commando and a few battleships and we'll be fine

Should Siberia evacuate? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184486)

We all know what happened the last time one of Tesla's experiments got away from him.

Re:Should Siberia evacuate? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184932)

Tesla's bad assery [badasshistory.com] far exceeds the Tunguska myth. He figured out how to turn our great big ball of iron surrounded by an electrostatic atmosphere into a giant fucking power source. He knew burning fossil fuels was a bad idea 100 years ago before anyone ever conceived it would be an issue.

He was trying to hand us a solution to problems we didn't even have yet and give us technology not unlike the telecommunications we have today 100 years ago! He even told us how to fucking do it when he filed a patent [tfcbooks.com] on the process.

But hey, maybe these guys are on to his work and just needed a cover story to get funding for their own Wardenclyffe tower. One can only hope...

Re:Should Siberia evacuate? (4, Interesting)

datavirtue (1104259) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185210)

I have a book that is comprised of transcripts from lawsuits that Tesla was involved in where he used the court proceedings to document some of his tech. He was dealing with some very powerful industrialists, people who basically owned the world as everyone knew it. I have seen documentaries where it is demonstrated that Edison was worshiped by Presidents and important people the world over where Tesla isn't even mentioned--even in passing. When I first learned of Tesla I realized that I never questioned a lot of the things I take for granted and it wasn't well known who invented or developed them, now I know.

Re:Should Siberia evacuate? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185380)

Tesla was the man. He pioneered everything from physics to telecommunications. Though never realized, he actually figured out how to extract static electricity from the air and turn it into a power source. Talk about renewable energy.... Then there is the tesla turbine? You tube it. Its the sickest little mechanical device and so freaking simple its ridiculous.

  I read the other day that scientists every now and again come across a new invention only to find out tesla patented the same thing 100 years prior.

Tesla was 100 years ahead of his time (4, Interesting)

nido (102070) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185746)

One of the neater things I've read about is how Lockheed Martin went back to Tesla's technology to make a communication system for miners:

A magnetic-wave generator developed by Nikola Tesla over 100 years ago as a wireless communication device has been updated by engineers at Lockheed Martin to save lives after mining disasters.

Magnetic waves -- unlike radio waves -- can penetrate hundreds of metres of solid rock. MagneLink, the fridge-sized device developed by Lockheed Martin, allows for phone calls and text messaging. It was tested this year at a mine in Virginia, and production is expected before 2011.

-Nikola Tesla’s patent redux [wired.co.uk] (very short)

Heres another link: Tapping Tesla to Save Trapped Miners [sciencemag.org]

If Tesla was 100 years ahead of everyone else, that means we should be plugging our devices into the Aether ("The wheelwork of nature" [google.com] ) soon.

Sell tickets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184496)

I'm amazed at their ability to get funding for this. I think it is going to have more value in it's novelist than it's scientific merit. Maybe they will sell tickets to see the show.

I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184500)

"LOD founder Greg Leyh said the project aims to reveal details on the initiation process of natural lightning"

I guess geeks have to learn to initiate on something.

Best job EVAR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184506)

The has got to be the best job ever..."Built ten-story Tesla coils to re-create natural lightning arc over 200 feet in length"

Lightning is a DC not an AC Electric arc? (5, Insightful)

kurthr (30155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184532)

Greg is a great guy, giant tesla coils are cool, and I'd love to know more about lightning, but it seems like lots of properties of air (especially when it has water or other polarizable droplets/particles) are frequency dependent. So I'm not sure how that this is really going to act like the natural lightning that we're used to... Science? Ok, but not Natural Lightning Science.

Re:Lightning is a DC not an AC Electric arc? (1, Insightful)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184760)

That's a good point. Further, AC transmits electricity. I have a tiny tesla coil in my room that can light up a flourescent bulb from some distance. I'm betting he's gonna blow out all his own equipment the first time he turns it on. I'll give him bonus points if he can spread that EMP burst out enough to fry electronics in nearby homes.

Re:Lightning is a DC not an AC Electric arc? (3, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185026)

I'm betting he's gonna blow out all his own equipment the first time he turns it on.

FTFA:

Tesla coils have an uncanny ability to short out modern electronics—anything from erasing voice mails to blowing out computer screens. To guard against this, the LOD teams usually places “nearby electronics in shielded enclosures,” or they run the coils “far, far away,” Leyh said.

I know. I must be new here, I read TFA. After a while here, you don't read TFA. Later on still, you don't even read TFS.

On the absolute existential plain of eternal bliss, you don't even read the title, either. You just post.

However, I agree with your comment . . . which is why I want to be there when he fires that critter up, and all the ensuing pandemonium rages. Maybe it'll create a Black Hole, and the Higgs Boson will pop out of it. CERN really let us all down there, with the end of the universe, and an angry God appearing looking for His Particle.

Re:Lightning is a DC not an AC Electric arc? (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185692)

Once one reaches /. zen they no longer need to even read TFC either.

It's fairly boring though as I can only stand to read fifty or so RE:s of the same subject.

already did this quest (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184558)

Part of the old republic beta, it's a quest on dromon kaas.

Atmosphere (5, Funny)

dan_barrett (259964) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184602)

Hopefully they're building this over a smallish castle + mad scientist lab with convenient skylights, along with the worlds largest knife switch

Re:Atmosphere (4, Funny)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184708)

and an Igor - They know the secret of storing lightning in jars

Re:Atmosphere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185772)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leyden_jar

Where to put a 10' story Tesla coil (4, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184610)

This can't be anywhere near civilization, as a Tesla coil can fry any electronics. It also can't be in some forest wilderness, as a Tesla coil can easily ignite trees. As they say, they're making something that's more and more lightning like, which is also more unsafe. So building a 10' Tesla coil is probably not the hard problem.... the hard problem is operating it Safely, and actually being able to take experimental observations.... because, this is all very dangerous.

And also, will the FCC allow them to operate it, once they've built it?

Considering spark gap transmitters have long been banned due to the spectrum-wide interference they cause; and the earliest such radio transmitters were tesla coils... and EMI in particular can be generated across the spectrum as well, resulting in disruptions to communications, with such a large tesla coil, and such a large arc, especially if they are attempting to use frequencies associated with wireless transmissions; I wonder what will the RFI fallout will be.

; and any horizontally long metallic structure can get induced currents and also become antennae for further RFI emissions. Yes, lightning does show up on the radio spectrum as well, but a powered up Tesla coil emits many arcs not spread out by time, a much bigger footprint than lightning....

Re:Where to put a 10' story Tesla coil (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184800)

As long as nobody will sue them if he infringes on some imaginary property, they won't give a shit.

Re:Where to put a 10' story Tesla coil (4, Informative)

ustolemyname (1301665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184840)

So building a 10' Tesla coil is probably not the hard problem

It's not 10'. It's 10 stories, so more like 100' Tesla coils. I would call that hard.

Re:Where to put a 10' story Tesla coil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184986)

there is no point in them making continuous discharges, if what they plan to study is lightning. its pretty easy to make your telsa coil fire one arc whenever you want it, and there is no danger of it hitting anything but the other tesla coil. im assuming the plan would be to make one coil positive and one negatively charged, which would mean the arcs would definitely want to hit the other tower, not the ground or a tree (assuming they would be stupid enough to put it in a forest, ever heard of a cornfield?) EMI created from large arcs falls off with the square of the radius, like lots of things. theres plenty of places large enough for an experiment like this, and as far as radio interference goes, single bursts arent going to make any planes fall out of the sky any faster than a lightning bolt, seeing as they hope to make them practically identical. as far as the FCC is concerned, as long as your personal computer isnt right next to it, they dont have to put their stamp on it saying that its not going to screw it up.

Re:Where to put a 10' story Tesla coil (2)

Rinnon (1474161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185058)

Oh come on, we all know where the best place for these kind of mad science projects are. The Antarctic! Worst thing you could do is melt a little ice, and I think we've already got a plan in motion for that one.

Re:Where to put a 10' story Tesla coil (2)

Megahard (1053072) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185296)

I'm guessing it would have to be enclosed, like PG&E's facility in San Ramon [sanramonexpress.com] , seen on Mythbusters. I work less than a mile away and there's no interference.

BTW to me it looks like a giant breast.

Re:Where to put a 10' story Tesla coil (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185460)

I say put them on top of Congress. It'll screw up their cell phones and maybe they'd get some work done. Also all their hair standing on end would make Cspan more amusing.

Re:Where to put a 10' story Tesla coil (2)

Pirate_Pettit (1531797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185742)

Maybe I'm just not on the right wavelength, but what sort of danger are we talking about here? I mean, yes, on a personal level, intentionally creating something close to actual lighting is going to be potentially dangerous to those in immediate proximity, but this is no nuke. Early rocketry exposed its researchers to explosive risks, but it didn't take long to anticipate and accommodate those risks, such that most of the time, the only casualty was a chunk of ground and a little pride.

Build your lighting tower, charge 'er up, and go really far away. sensor packages and telephoto lenses, and who could really get hurt? There's plenty of desert in this country, where localized RF disruption hurts no one, and the ground is so unchanging its practically a constant. We've tested all sorts of explosives in the middle of nowhere for far less noble purposes. I think understanding lightning as a natural phenomenon is a reasonable goal with acceptable, highly localized - and mostly predictable risks. Bring on the lighting machines.

Command & Conquer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184668)

I'm having horrible flashbacks to C&C: Red Alert.

Things that make you go BOOM! (5, Funny)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184754)

I'm having horrible flashbacks to C&C: Red Alert.

I'm having horrible flashbacks to C&C: Music Factory.

Do NOT try to suppress it. (0)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184774)

That is as stupid of an idea as Gates' idea of stopping hurricanes or wiping out mosquitoes. Lightening likely does a LOT of good since nature has grown up with it. Instead, we should be trying to figure out how to harness it. That is a good source of renewable energy.

Re:Do NOT try to suppress it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185244)

Nature has "grown up" with hemlock as well you stupid mutt, it does not make hemlock a good thing to eat, or useful in any way. Stfu or learn some science. Nature is mindless and does not know anything, it does not matter what is or is not in nature. Man decides what is and is not useful, and Man uses it as he pleases.

Re:Do NOT try to suppress it. (2)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185450)

Well, lets see:

Production of O3 that protects us from UV. I think that is a big one.
Starts forest fires every so often that restarts the growth cycles (which shows that nature has adopted to NEEDING lightening).
Miller/Urey's experiments showing that lightening's impact on various chemicals made a number of base molecules that life needed. I would say that suggests that many more molecules are produced by lightening than we realize, that are likely absorb by bacteria, plant, or some other bottom feeders.

And that was just a few positives from Lightening.

Now, as to hemlock, it has a number of interesting issues. A number of animals are somewhat immune to it, so with multiple feedings on it, they build up a quasi immunity to it. That means that other animals that enter the area and attempt to eat the plant will succumb to it. Interestingly, there is evidence that hemlock alkaloids build up in small quantities in herbivores such that if a predator kills and eats them, they die (think mercury in our ecosystem).
Point is, that nature has adopted and used hemlock.

What an idiot and asshole you are. Pretending to be somebody that knows something of science. You remind me of another troll (flyinwhitey, ifwm and a few other logins that that idiot had).

Re:Do NOT try to suppress it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185466)

or useful in any way.

People who don't understand the place that plants have in our ecosystem should really not be calling others 'stupid mutt'.

Or do you not breathe, dickcheese?

Re:Do NOT try to suppress it. (2)

Annirak (181684) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185248)

This is a TERRIBLE source of renewable energy. Lightning is a pulsed power source, where our demands are essentially steady. Lightning is caused either by wind or solar wind (charged particles accumulating in the atmosphere), so why not pick that up directly? We have wind turbines and solar cells. These are far more sensible than lightning as a power source.

And for reference, wind power is effectively solar, since wind is cause by uneven absorption of solar radiation, which causes convection currents.

Re:Do NOT try to suppress it. (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185540)

So what if it is pulsed? It is ALWAYS happening around the world. ALWAYS. And in large large large quantities per strike. 5 billion joules for a small strike. If it is possible to encourage a strike and to get it to hit a particular area, then this can be used in storage (thermal? Electrical?) or simply converts H2O to 2 H2 and O2. One normal storm can actually power all of USA for 20 minutes. And a storm in the midwest (very wicked strong storms) can power all of the USA for several hours. Keep in mind that just 60 years ago, if you told ppl that they could get direct electricity from the sun, few would believe you. More importantly, most would say that it was not useful. Finally, what is wind and solar, but pulsed energy as well. Just for longer durations. But you have ZERO control over these, where as, it is POSSIBLE to control lightening.

Re:Do NOT try to suppress it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185266)

I agree - lightening has helped a lot of things. It helps me find things in the dark, most importantly.

If we do away with this fundamental feature of nature, how will we ever find things?! Curse you, mad men of science!

This story is everywhere in the last two weeks (5, Informative)

mark_reh (2015546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184866)

and it's wrong. Tesla coils produce high frequency -i.e AC- discharges at very high voltage and very low current. Lightning, on the other hand is a DC or very low frequency phenomenon combining extremely high voltages with extremely high currents. The currents are so high that they instantaneously heat the air and produce a loud boom- you may have heard it before- it's called thunder.

If he really wanted to duplicate lightning he'd charge up some big capacitors to extremely high voltages and draw arcs between their terminals. THAT would be a better simulation of lightning than the output of any Tesla coil.

Major props to the guy for marketing his idea. It's been picked up by every news agency from here to Mumbai. I'm sure he'll get the funding he needs to go through with the project.

Re:This story is everywhere in the last two weeks (1)

Annirak (181684) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185256)

Or maybe go with van der graaf generators instead.

Re:This story is everywhere in the last two weeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185430)

No current, just voltage and not enough of that.

Re:This story is everywhere in the last two weeks (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185396)

If he really wanted to duplicate lightning he'd charge up some big capacitors to extremely high voltages and draw arcs between their terminals. THAT would be a better simulation of lightning than the output of any Tesla coil.

Say, a Cockroft-Walton [wikipedia.org] generator?

Re:This story is everywhere in the last two weeks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185476)

Again, no current and not enough voltage.

Listen up, lightning bolts are commonly 10,000 AMPERES. One in 100 is over 100,000 Amps. Van-de-Graffs are a just a few microamps. Cockroft-Waltons might hit .1 amps. On a good day. A high voltage supercapacitor might peak out at 1000 amps. A few times, then it's toast.

Yay! (1)

vuo (156163) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184898)

>Tesla Roadster

Seems like there's an extra "d" in there.

Anyway, maybe this will finally prove or disprove the conspiracy theories about Nicola Tesla's wireless power transmission system. Alternatively, at least tesla coils as in C&C become reality. A great replacement for landmines, now that the boo-hoo pacifists try to ban them.

Great! They'll communicate with aliens too! (4, Interesting)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38184900)

The very first communications of human origin that alien civilizations might receive will come from Nikola Tesla's attempt to broadcast electrical power through the air a little over a century ago. Provided they have sensitive and directional enough receivers, and can somehow filter out the radio noise from the Sun, that would mean that any civilization within a little over a hundred light years might already be trying to respond to us.

A while back I asked on an astronomy newsgroup, how far away could a civilization with the level of technology that humanity presently has, detect our own radio signals?

The sorrowful answer was that it was only three light years, which is a light year short of the distance to our nearest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri, which is also not likely to have any planets that could harbor life. The SETI researcher who responded also said that our strongest radio transmitters are the Distant Early Warning radars that the United States uses to watch for an incoming nuclear attack from the Soviets. That implies that we are only "communicating" with aliens who are in a generally northward direction relative to the earth.

I then asked how SETI hoped to hear from any aliens at all. His answer was that we expect that more advanced civilizations would transmit far more powerful radio signals. That doesn't seem right to me, unless they are specifically trying to communicate with other civilizations, as I would expect more advanced technology to result in lower radio power, rather than more, both to conserve energy and to enable more devices to use the available spectrum.

Re:Great! They'll communicate with aliens too! (2, Interesting)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185092)

The very first communications of human origin that alien civilizations might receive will come from Nikola Tesla's attempt to broadcast electrical power through the air a little over a century ago. Provided they have sensitive and directional enough receivers, and can somehow filter out the radio noise from the Sun, that would mean that any civilization within a little over a hundred light years might already be trying to respond to us.

I wonder what exactly they are going to respond to us with. e.g. "Ahh... looks like another civilization just invented radio communications. Very smart of them. It seems their intelligence is only matched by their carelessness. I think it's about time to clue them in as to why they have yet to find intelligent life on any other planet in the galaxy. For a brief second or two they will finally know that there IS life on other planets."

Re:Great! They'll communicate with aliens too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185220)

I then asked how SETI hoped to hear from any aliens at all. His answer was that we expect that more advanced civilizations would transmit far more powerful radio signals. That doesn't seem right to me, unless they are specifically trying to communicate with other civilizations, as I would expect more advanced technology to result in lower radio power, rather than more, both to conserve energy and to enable more devices to use the available spectrum.

Equally importantly: as civilization advances, it uses more efficient compression algorithms, which make its transmissions look more like pure noise, and harder to identify as an intentional signal.

So yes, SETI is primarily looking for a signal intended as a communication to us.

some kinds of signals may be not quite random (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185452)

you're correct that compression generally makes the data look random. but some compressed formats have highly nonrandom components. bzip2 is organized into blocks so that if one block is corrupted the remaining blocks can be reliably decompressed.

high quality encryption cannot appear completely random, because every arbitrarily long random sequence has arbitrarily long sequences of any arbitrary bit pattern. suppose you used a radioactive source to generate a binary one time pad, then xored your cleartext with it. you'll someday find out the hard way that you transmitted "attack at dawn" in cleartext because your one time pad contained a long string of zeroes!

thus we could detect encrypted signals by watching for signals that appear TOO random. there are many statistical tests for randomness. I expect some of them could distinguish an encrypted signal from pure noise.

Re:some kinds of signals may be not quite random (2)

alannon (54117) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185570)

While I see your point, if you have a truly random entropy source, ANY xored combination of cleartext and cyphertext could (incorrectly) appear to form any arbitrary message in the encrypted message.

grep "attack at dawn" /dev/random (and wait a while. Probably a LONG while.)

Re:Great! They'll communicate with aliens too! (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185332)

I kind of doubt that, your not going to get very far from the atmosphere with random scattered noise, atmospheric bounce is something people tend to forget about when talking about sending random radio waves off into space, which is why it takes a pretty specific effort to do it currently.

only low frequencies bounce off the ionosphere (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185522)

that's cities have fm radio but rural radio stations are generally the lower frequency am.

which tesla coils are driven by sixty hertz alternating current, they get their incredibly high voltage by preventing a large inductance from conducting. inductors are current source that will develop any voltage necessary to continue conducting. eventually there is a powerful but very short-lived arc that also generates a very high frequency radio signal.

that's also why you shouldn't mess with large inductors if you don't know what you're doing. when high energy electrons strike the inner orbital electrons of high atomic number electrons the photon that's emitted from the collission is an x-Ray. that can give you Th3 C4nc3r.

Radio waves. Meh. (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185378)

That's what aliens will say.

We've got to push the limits of our understanding of physics and imagine more advanced methods of communications. Ones that could be directed at distant solar systems and get around the speed of light restrictions on communications latency.

I'm thinking along the lines of wormholes (Einstein-Rosen bridges). Assume that advanced civilizations will have figured out all the problems involved with sending these things around the universe and popping them open in front of target civilizations. Given the energy requirements needed to open one big enough to step through, this probably isn't what they'll use. But what about a wormhole just big enough to send a series of photons through (think fiber optics). We find one end of such a wormhole floating by, we grab it and look at it with an opto sensor. If it looks like we've got intelligence on the other end, we're in business.

We don't need to solve the physics of how to open or send such a wormhole. Leave that up to the more advanced civilization. All we have to do is recognize the end that's floating by locally, grab it and examine it.

You cannot walk through a wormhole (2)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185804)

you'll come out the other side as a largely random sequence of random types of fundamental particles, mostly photons. trust me. while I only playvacsoftware engineer on the Internet, I really am a physicist.

you could through one though.

I spent quite a long time puzzling overbhowbto encode a signal so that any alien that was capable of detecting it would bevquite certainbwas transmitted by intelligent beings. just for our signal to be nonrandom would be insufficient, as there are many physical processes that generate powerful nonrandom signals. pulsars are quickly rotating, highly magnetic collapsedvstars, butvwere thought at first to be signals from alien civilizations.

you also need a way for your signal to stabbed out from the enormous radio noise of the sun.

transmit pulse sequences with the number of pulses being a prime number withba modest pause in between. pause in between each sequence then transmit the next larger prime number. repeat until you get to a very large prime then startbover again with two.

to overcome solar noise, use an interferometer. two antennas spaced far apart have the same resolution as a single antenna as wide as the distance between the two. if you control the relative phase of your antennas you can focus yourvtransmittedvsignal with the same resolution. the focussed signal would appear more powerful than the sun's signal because it diminishes with the square of the distance.

such antennas could be placed in solar orbit at the earths lagrange points, with solar or nuclear power. they could transmit in many different directions simultaneously by altering their phases.

fucking autocorrect! (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185820)

when I type a correctly spelled word replaces itbwith some completely unrelated word. when I really do misspell a word the ios doesn't correct it.

my single most common error is to type v or b instead of space, but autocorrect doesn't know howbto fix that.

Talking to the right people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38184928)

For the right number, several possible startups already exist. http://www.flickr.com/photos/justinkent/140341111/ [flickr.com]

Although, I'm sure some of them are not legal.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Td--Hltuol [youtube.com]

Or Good for You.. http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=giant+tesla+coils+in+russia&oq=giant+tesla+coils+in+russia&aq=f&aqi=g1&aql=&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=18110l28969l0l29610l27l27l0l10l10l0l297l3564l0.8.9l17l0 [youtube.com] Sorry if any of these links are down.. seem to have struck a nerve with someone!

Lightning... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185316)

... is the equivalent of shiny stones for the, erm, other gender.

Soviets had gigantic Tesla coils decades ago. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185350)

Soviets had gigantic Tesla coils decades ago.
Search the web and you will easily find pictures.

What a Colossal waste of money! (0)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 2 years ago | (#38185558)

Control Lightning? Really! Control fucking lightning?

I am about as liberal as you can get when it comes to funding science but this rates right up there with Paranormal Research.

We built a 4 foot tall one of these when I was in High School. We used window glass and sheet metal for the capacitor and two pennies for the spark gap and it created a wonderful halo of radiated electricity, lit all the florescent bulbs in the room and it was cool, but a 100' tall version? Just say no. We have just a few more important things to spend our money on eight about now.

Red Alert! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185574)

I saw this in Command & Conquer. BTDT.

What was a Tesla Coil made for? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185660)

The Tesla coil was not designed to make any arcs or sparks at all. Sir Oliver Lodge was responsible for such things, not Tesla.

Natural lighting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38185794)

Did anyone else misread the subject as natural lighting? (Even the summary, as quoted, has it wrong at the beginning.) I was picturing artificial daylight in communal areas, such as city parks. Or replacement of the incandescent lights at home. Giant electric arcs... very cool!
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...