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NOTE: I find that the K. Shoulders claims don't make sense unless one first realizes that Ken is claiming that small, needle-shaped sparks are not sparks at all! Instead, a high-speed camera sees them as intensely bright points, microscopic "stars" moving at high speed. They are not normal plasma streamers, instead they seem to be brilliant glowing particles. However, the same electrodes CAN produce the famaliar fractal-shaped spark processes rather than needle-sparks. For example, a classroom VandeGraaff machine produces several different types of discharge, including branching tortuous "lightning," various corona-glows, as well as the bright non-fractal "needle-sparks." Ken Shoulders entire discovery is that the familiar needle-sparks are not sparks; instead they are traveling "micro-bullets" which can vaporize narrow tunnels in metal foils and refractory materials, they take the form of a small torus of smaller separate points, and can be guided by fabbed surface-structures on ceramic wafers. - billb

Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2000 11:15:57 -0700
From: Hal Fox <halfox a uswest,net>
Subject: Something for School

Dear William Beaty,

Ken Shoulders, in one of his papers, describes the following. It is a very instructive experiment and may lead some students to become one of the early charge-cluster engineers.

Use standard aluminum foil. Coat it with a mixture of finest silicon carbide powder (used as a grinding powder for polishing) mixed with enough epoxy to make it stick.

There is nothing exotic about mixing the epoxy and silicon carbide granules. We used black friction tape applied to the aluminum foil and then squeegee the paste onto the layer between the two tapes. You can try different thicknesses. We determined that about 0.006 inches was about optimum.

Connect a high voltage d.c. connection to the foil and the other to a needle. You will need to have a high-voltage source, such as from a TV power supply (from any old TV). Try the aluminum for both positive and negative connections. Slowly bring the needle closer to the aluminum (black coating toward the needle).

[ POWER SUPPLY MAY BE IMPORTANT! Scott Little of Earthtech tried all this, and never produced the claimed effects. Certainly he didn't precisely replicate the exact conditions. Shoulders perhaps assumes that EVOs are easy to produce, forgetting that Murphy's Law says that everyone else will fail, because everyone else used a different setup (different epoxy, different size of SiC powder, different HVDC power supply, different humidity, different lab lightning, etc., etc.) Chances are that Shoulders hit on this demo through sheer luck, and when everyone else attempts it, changes were made, and it doesn't work. What was the exact source of each material? What was the model number and voltage setting of the HVDC supply? Unknown! -billb]

According to textbooks, it requires about 10,000 volts per centimeter to establish a spark or an arc. Have students determine at what distance and at what voltage arcs or sparks appear in this experiment.

You will note that you can create a visible (especially in the dark) flow of ions (probably caused by electrons bombarding air molecules) between the needle and the aluminum before the spark zaps. In addition, you will find the following:

1. Sparks are produced at much lower voltages than the textbooks predict.

2. The spark will entirely vaporize the silicon carbide (which has a very high vaporization temperature). Have students look up the melting and vaporization temperatures.

3. There will be a hole in the aluminum.

4. You may observe (when aluminum is anode) that the spark goes past the aluminum and turns around and goes back to the aluminum electrode.

Why does this arrangement produce sparks/arcs at lower voltages. I suggest that it is because most of the voltage drop is across the non-conducting silicon carbide layer. This is a method of creating a charge cluster.


Ken works much with single shots. He charges a small capacitor to a given high voltage (maybe several hundred volts). It is easy to measure the voltage on the capacitor before a "shot" and after the shot and compute the energy used. Similarly, the output is captured in a capacitor. It is easy to compute the power output supplied to the capacitor. Shoulders has shown that it is relatively easy to get ten times as much electrical energy out as input electrical energy. The trick is to provide an input pulse that is very short to make the charge cluster and to make the output pulse as wide as possible. This is not simple because one needs to produce clusters using nanosecond, high-voltage pulses.

Have Fun!


transcription of video interview
An EVO demo from Hal Fox
2001 version on is missing
2013   on google drive

physical archive: paper collection, VHS tapes, film, etc.

I accidentally discovered something similar. When producing glows with a 120V incandescent light bulb using a Tesla Coil, some bulbs don't do "plasma bulb" at all. Instead the glass surface flickers green or blue, but there's no gas discharge or colorful streamers inside. Unlike most incandescent bulbs, these bulbs contain hard vacuum. Long aquarium bulbs and 'exit-sign' replacement bulbs are typical examples, as are large "oldschool" incandescent Christmas lights as well as tiny "grain of wheat" bulbs. They can generate x-rays. But very strangely, they often become perforated by invisibly small pores after some exposure to the TC high voltage. (I was using a hand-held "vacuum tester" coil, and more than once caused accidental micro-holes in bulbs.

I first noticed the effect in 1984 at MOS Boston, when using a VandeGraaff machine to 'zap' an aquarium-bulb held in my hand. I hoped to create visible blue plasma flashes for use by teachers with VDG machines. But instead, nothing. At first the glass surface flashed green. But then during numerous further discharges, obvious violet flashes of plasma-glows were finally seen in the space inside the bulb. But then, oddly they grew progressively dimmer and dimmer, then finally disappeared, and were replaced by normal white sparks inside the bulb. The VDG had somehow drilled a microscopic hole right through the glass bulb, gradually letting in the air which produced a visible glow. (The hole was visible under bright light: an extremely tiny "dust speck" on the surface that couldn't be wiped off.) The location of the hole was adjacent to a sharp filament-support, as if the grounded sharp wire tip had been launching some sort of "disintegrator ray" which drilled an incredibly tiny hole through the glass. WEEEEEIRD!

Years later, for the Long Beach #17 2011 Conference on "natural philosophy" I attempted to use a microwave oven to generate x-rays, by including a row of ?seven? aquarium-bulbs standing vertically in sockets in a plastic bracket. Didn't work very well, and afterwards, I found that one of the bulbs was full of air! I became suspicious about this, and soon found that over weeks/months, the rest of the bulbs started flashing violet/orange inside, or even had risen to 1ATM pressure, easily shown when briefly zapped with a handheld vacuum-tester Tesla Coil. They ALL had developed nano-perforations, but apparently with various sizes and various leak-rates. (Hmm, I now recall that only one of those bulbs didn't leak at all. Perhaps it had accidentally been positioned in a node inside the microwave oven, and wasn't subjected to the normal EHT fields present in the intense EM standing-wave present in empty microwave ovens.)

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