Threadlike streams of "Electric wind"
Page 4: Implications, etc.

  • Page 1: The Phenomenon

  • Page 2: Hardware details

  • Page 3: Experiments so far

  • Page 4: Implications, musings, ideas to try

  • Page 5: References, received email


    Skip down to IDEAS TO TRY

    The big mystery: if these "rays" are simply "electric wind" (charged air,) why do they form such narrow streams? Charged wind should self-repel and fan out!

    Charles Yost in Electric Spacecraft Journal observed something similar a few years ago. His "rays" radiated from polished sphere electrodes connected to a Wimshurst machine. He discovered them while working with a Schelieren photography setup and looking for distortions of air pressure caused by e-fields. See ESJ, Issue 16, pp7-19, winter 1995. I saw something similar once years ago, see "rules for inventors", under Rule 5. Also Wasserfadden Phenomenon.

    3/2000 I stumbled across a website which discusses a very similar phenomenon. If the end of a fluid-filled capillary tube is exposed to a strong e-field, the tiny droplet at the end of the tube will be sculpted by electrostatic forces which form it into a conical pyramid called a "Taylor Cone". If the field strength is increased, the charges at the tip of the cone become so repulsive that the end of the liquid cone is thrown outwards as droplets, and the droplets form a stream which is incredibly thin and moves incredibly fast. If the field is made even more intense, then the droplets repel each other into an expanding conical spray (or perhaps the individual droplets explode because of repulsive forces.) This is used in nano-chem research in order to create beams of protein molecules or nano-crystals of salt (droplets of solvent are allowed to evaporate, leaving behind tiny bits of solid matter.) In one paper, a beam of protein molecules is formed in air, and then guided through a 0.1mm hole into a vacuum chamber where it is focused and deflected like an electron beam! Another paper discusses "sputtering" effects, and notes that a cluster of 150 H2O molecules if accelerated through 300KV and striking gold, will knock off 100,000 gold atoms! (If each droplet typically destroys 100K times its own volume, then maybe we *can* turn this effect into a kind of "bandsaw".

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    If a highly-curved solid hemisphere has a fluid layer, then e-fields should be able to create a Taylor Cone which spits a stream of tiny droplets. No capillary tube is needed. This dosent explain how fibers of metal or carbon are able to create the "threads". Maybe in those cases the corona discharge attacks the fiber and creates a charged gas which then condenses into tiny charged clusters (soot particles.) If so, then whenever strong e-fields hit a sharp point, a sort of "electric candle" is created, and the stream of smoke moves at many meters per second, yet is only the width of a single soot particle.

    Idea: if 1KV on a capillary tube far from ground can launch a droplet, what happens if the tip of the capillary is very close to a tiny grounded ring? Maybe the voltage needed to eject a droplet falls to 10V! Alternately, if we put 100KV pulses on the capillary tip, or on the tiny ring, the droplets might moves so fast that they drill holes through a surface when they hit. Or if a pair of these droplet-beams should collide, maybe a tiny incandescent spot would appear suspended in space. Or at least a hot spot. Or, with various gases or droplets present, "do chemistry" at that one spot. Create tiny flames, if not HV discharge. (Try colliding two threads in low-pressure argon environment, for low-volt visible discharge spot.)

    Dale T. remembers seeing air-threads directly: ghostly spiderwebs springing from the oily surface of a high voltage transformer. Perhaps small cusp-shaped spots develop in the wet surface, and micro-droplets are spit from the cusp by the e-field forces.

    Possible experiment: produce an oil-based "air thread" inside a vac chamber using vacuum pump oil. At a few hundred KV, would the impacts of the oil droplets upon a surface produce visible light? Surface damage?

    Are air-threads a kind of smoke? If a tiny patch of corona-plasma should appear upon a conductive solid surface, the plasma's tiny "flame" could ignite any oily debris and produce soot. Or perhaps no debris is needed, and the plasma attacks the metal surface and produces particles of oxide "smoke." Rather than streaming upwards like normal smoke, the charged soot particles follow the e-field. Also, if the linear stream of charged smoke tends to move fast and knock any intruding air molecules out of the way, it might electromechanically "self focus", forming a narrow channel of vacuum through the atmosphere.

    Are they rows of Ken Shoulders' "EV" particles? But positive terminals emit them too, and "EVs" are supposedly negative. Perhaps this is what Nikola Tesla called his "death ray", narrow channels thinner than hair which can be used to transport thousands of electrical horsepower. I need to let them hit a high-impedance op amp terminal, then look at the waveform and perhaps listen to it on audio, see if it's the pure DC of an ion stream, or noisy because of large particles.

    N. Tesla's "death ray": build a particle accelerator, but accelerate macroscopic charged particles such as tiny oil droplets. Tesla apparently used a VandeGraaff machine to accelerate the particles in his "death ray." Why not use a Tesla coil to drive the beast (the alternating e-field will cause the output beam to be chopped at the TC frequency, but then the power supply will be physically small.) Use a row of AC accelerator electrodes rather than just one electrode with a huge DC potential. If the output beam is 0.1mm diameter and 1000 watts, what will happen if you pass your fingers through it? Burns? Or a cutting effect? What happens when tungsten smoke particles are accelerated to relativistic velocities? Sounds like the monomolecular cutting-wire from the SF story THE THIN EDGE.

    Perhaps they are not ions at all. Perhaps they are tiny pieces of the "emitter fiber" which are torn off by plasma bombardment or electrical repulsion. If so, and if they have a high charge/atom, then they might accelerate to *very* high velocities. They might tend to bore a hole in the air, so that the following particles move in the "hollow wake" of the leading particles. This would explain both their seeming high velocity and their immunity to tangential air jets. Huh. Maybe when they play upon my fingers, they are actually driving small particles deep into my flesh. How to tell? Shoot some NaOH into some phenolthaline indicator? Fire some Endotoxin through a thick glass plate and into some Limulus blood, and see if it jells?

    OUTBREAK OF VACUUM-FIBERS. [Jan 2011] Suppose the particles are atomic clusters or even single air ions. There may be a nonlinearity where fast particles create a low-density channel in the air, and a low density channel allows the electrostatic acceleration of particles to high velocity. These two effects could cross-reinforce each other, then "collapse" into a very narrow, very high vacuum "fiber" which is kept cleared out of air molecules. Perhaps the moving particles would interact with the air as if it were a wall, and bounce back and forth from the channel walls, producing the pressure that keeps the channel open. If so, then any "emitter" which produces a stream of ions or charged fragments might also seed the growth of these "vacuum fiber" structures, sort of like the inverse to the growth of dendritic crystals: vacuum whiskers would be a self-assembling phenomenon produced by the positive feedback between increased particle velocity and increased channel vacuum. What then is the typical channel diameter? If it's controlled by the gas physics rather than by the emitter diameter, the channel might have a characteristic diameter!

    Biological systems often make use of odd physical phenomena. The Earth has a strong vertical e-field during storms. If fungi and flowers should emit positively-charged spores and pollen, they could form "air threads" and be lifted very high into the air. During non-storm conditions, plants needing to emit chemicals through the boundary-layer could do so via extremely sharp bristles jutting out into the environmental e-field.

    The "threads" apparently move VERY fast for being made from air. Anything this narrow should make instant turbulence. Turbulence uses the energy stored in fluid shear. The shear in these thin threads must be titanic, so where is the turbulence? They seem to be entirely laminar, yet some are 50cm long, under 1mm wide, and move at 10KPH! I think it's normally impossible to create an air-jet this long and this narrow. Something is binding them together so the alike-charges don't spread. Something is affecting their boundary layer and preventing immediate turbulent disruption. Something is preventing them from drawing in more air along their length and so growing into moving sausage-shapes of air rather than moving filaments.

    What the heck could these be used for? Grafitti launcher, ink-jet style? Build a giant thread-generator, shave your head, don a white lab coat, threaten the city, and go looking for superheros to fight with? A big thread-launcher could do weird things to the airflow around a wing, or could act as a silent electrostatic jet engine. Can you say "antigravity squadron?"

    I suspect that the tips of the air threads are causing dimples in the surface of the water. If so, then sunlight can be used to see the spots. Put the electrified tray in a sunbeam so that the water makes a bright square patch of light upon the ceiling. Dimples in the water will appear as black dots in the patch of light. (Tried this. Only the very largest "threads" can create a visible dimple.)

    Will the tiny air-jets distort the thickness (colors) of soap films? If so, then make a big soap film on a hoop of wire, charge it up electrically, and direct air-threads to it. The terminations of the air-threads might be visible. Or perhaps the air-thread will just pop the bubble. Idea: launch a thread through a cloud of alcohol vapor or benzene, and if the thread can deliver the vapor to the soap film, the effect will be very noticeable. Note: soap films are best viewed with a dark background behind the film, and an illuminated white panel behind you the observer. In looking at the film, you are seeing the reflection of the white panel, with a dark background for good contrast. [ No, they cause soap bubbles to pop. How about a raft of tiny bubbles, then let a thread play across them and carve furrows of popped bubbles? ]

    Suppose that air-threads are spewed outwards by a tiny tuft of electrical plasma, of corona discharge. If the surface of this tiny hemisphere of conductive plasma acts as an extension of the surface of the emitter tip, then the field gradient at the borders of the plasma will be huge, and ions of the same polarity as the emitter will be repelled outwards. However, they cannot be emitted in ALL directions simultaneously because this would lower the air pressure within the plasma, and isn't a stable pattern. An analogy: when particles are spread on water they sift gradually downwards, but the situation is unstable, and a downwards-racing finger of heavy, particle-laden water is expected to appear. As the ions try to leave the thread-emitter electrode, I'd expect a narrow air jet to develop, where negative wind follows a narrow path, and neutral air is drawn into the base of the plasma. A bit like the hot tip of an incense-stick launching a laminar smoke-stream. A possibility: this needle-jet of negative air will alter the local fields at the tip of the plasma. If the fields are strong enough to induce a ring of positive charge imbalance on the surface of the plasma surrounding the jet, then the jet might spontaneously surround itself with a sheath of oppositely-charged ions. Without this sheath the jet might never be narrow, since the negative gas self-repels and expands. Yet the inertia of the inflowing neutral gas makes the jet narrow. A combination of hydrodynamic and electrical physics could combine to create an annular gas jet, a highly charged negative core surrounded by an equally charged positive sheath. Reverse the polarity of the emitter, and the jet still forms, but with reversed polarity. The attraction of opposite gas charges would create great pressures! If the geometry led to stability, then these pressures would be in a direction which creates "structural strength", akin to the forces which strengthen tempered glass and prestressed concrete. Charged gas which behaves as a solid filament! Or maybe my above speculation is entirely fantasy!!! :)

    Are air-threads the same as the "plasma fingers" in plasma globe displays? Threads are nitrogen, not argon/neon. And DC, not hi-freq AC. Glow discharge in nitrogen is dim violet, in argon it is bright white. If I put my whole mist-tray setup in an argon atmosphere, will I see glowing white air-threads? Yet air-threads don't seem to writhe like plasma-filaments do.

    Something just occurred to me. The late atmospheric physicist Dr. Bernard Vonnegut (yes, Kurt's brother), was of the opinion that tornados are electric motors. It seems that there are mysteries surrounding tornados, in particular, exactly where does the driving energy come from? From what I've seen, Vonnegut's "electric motor" theory is dismissed by colleagues and greeted with hostility in some arenas. Well, air-threads provide a miniature model for what could be the engine that drives tornados. The big question: are air-threads scale-dependent or not? Are they like clouds, sparks, and watersheds, does the same geometry occur with a wide variety of sizes? Or does their physics force them to always appear as 1mm threads? If the current and voltage is cranked up higher, does the length and more importantly, does the diameter of the air-threads increase? If so, then what would happen if a very large air-thread formed during a thunderstorm? Suppose it was a few meters across, and transported air laminarly upwards at maybe 100KPH? Would not a vortex form, especially at the area on the ground where the "hose mouth" of the air-thread touched down? Probably! And the tornado vortex would NOT extend upwards for miles. Instead there would be a gigantic transparent air-thread up there in the sky above the tornado, acting like a vacuum cleaner hose and transporting air in a uniform, non-rotating upwards direction.

    Even if air-threads don't form tornadoes, here's something else they might do. If a giant air-thread was terminated on the ground, it would make a gentle donut-shaped flow of air at the place where the air stream touches down. I see these in the dry-ice mist. Suppose this occurred upon another sensitive recording surface, say a WHEAT FIELD? Yeahhhh, that's the ticket! The air-thread would stamp out a ring-shaped impression in the wheat. Ah, but if this was occurring, the marks would not just be circles in the crops, they would be lines and arcs caused by motion of the air-thread across the ground. Oooo!, what happens during a lightning strike, when the stormcloud e-field collapses suddenly? Perhaps a pressure pulse travels down the giant air-threads. If these giant threads are normally too feeble to affect the crops, then perhaps the electrical pulse of a lightning discharge could drive the "rubber stamp" force and make a mysterious mark.

    David Wilkinson on sci.physics computational.fluid-dynamics tells me that the Reynolds number for similar flow in tubes is:

    The kinematic viscosity of air being 1.5*10^-5 m^2 s^-1, the Reynolds Number based on diameter for, say, 3 m s^-1 velocity is Re = 3 * 0.001 / 1.5*10^-5 = 200
    Therefor the air-threads may be analogous to the laminar jet of smoke above an undisturbed cigarette. But in this case the force is electrostatic, not bouyancy of warm air. Since Re is proportional to diameter, and high Re causes turbulence (right?), the tiny diameter of an air-thread can preserve laminar flow over greater distances or greater speeds than can the larger diameter smoke stream above a cigarette. Normal air jets are propelled by orifice pressure, and they slow down forever after. An electrostatic jet wouldn't need a high orifice velocity, since the e-fields keep if from slowing down from viscosity along its length.


    These 'threads' might exist in the upper atmosphere of the Earth, being launched upwards from thunderstorms. However, the usual strength of the environmental e-field is approx. 100 V/M, while the air-threads I produce require approx. 5000 V/M. The question arises: can an air-thread survive in low-field conditions after being produced in a high-field region? Therefore try passing an air-thread through an aperture in a conductive plate, where the field near the emitter's tip is large ( 5KV/M or above,) while the uniform field on the far side of the plate is far lower (how low can it go before the thread is disrupted? Will the *gradient* at the hole tend to disrupt the thread, even if the low field would not?)

    How large is the inertia of the core of the thread? In the above test with the aperture plate, how far will the thread continue to move once it penetrates into a region with no fields at all?

    See if I can increase the thread-current without increasing the diameter. If I launch the thread towards a metal plate with a small hole it it, then I could put a large voltage between the thread-emitter and the plate, then put a weaker field on the other side of the plate. This might form an "thread gun" with high output current but with a fairly low voltage between the emitter and the plate, and maybe not so much turbulence.

    If the "threads" are clusters or droplets rather than ions, then maybe they penetrate surfaces they touch. Maybe I'm injecting hypervelocity carbon clusters into my skin as I play with this seemingly-innocuous phenomenon. Try wetting a fiber with fluorescine dye or carbon-black. SHOOT THEM AT THE WINDOW OF AN ALPHA-PARTICLE GM TUBE! If the impact of an air-thread on a geiger counter makes the counter respond, then I'll be *certain* that I've got something weird here. But maybe the thread will just punch a micro-hole through the alpha-window.

    If a 60Hz AC drive creates successive (+) and (-) regions in the thread, then I could guide the thread past some AC accelerating electrodes, just like with a Linac. High velocity, but wo/megavolts needed. As Tesla said in his "death ray" claims, large horsepower concentrated over a tiny area. If a thread current was 10uA, and it went through a 100KV voltage drop, the particles would deliver 1watt at the microscopic impact point. With a series of properly-phased 60Hz accelerator electrodes, I could re-apply the 100KV many times to the thread. Will this create a glowing dot at the termination point on a surface? Or will it act like a water-jet cutter? Be careful not to snip fingers off, as with the "monomolecular fiber" of science fiction fame!

    Will threads be stopped by gold leaf? By glass membranes If they contain hypervelocity clusters rather than drifting ions, maybe the velocity will send matter through a thin barrier. Send an air-thread against a gold-leaf faraday cage with a detector-electrode near the inner gold surface. Run the thread-emitter at AC, and if an AC signal is detected inside the faraday shield, then it indicates that charged particles are penetrating the metal. (Might be easier to just use the GM tube as above, but perhaps the particles will be too slow to trigger the avalanche that makes the "clicks" in the output signal from the GM tube.)

    If I could generate XY vector-scanned e-fields, then I could draw little figures in my mist layer by using a rapidly scanned air-thread. Or big figures in a wheat field? :) Use a 2-plate motorized rotating capacitor to generate the 1hz quadrature AC field. Turn up the speed to see how fast the threads can follow the changing fields. Maybe even build a 2-channel rotating drum "music box" capacitor with shaped foils, and as the capacitor is turned, the X and Y output create the scanning pattern for an entire word, written in cursive script! [ Briefly made an "oscilloscope" with 5000VAC from small transformer, plus waving a charged balloon. Produced nice sine-waves in a fog layer. ]

    When I directed an upward negative air thread into the path of a downwards positive air thread, the motions of the mist at the lower end became greatly increased. Pos. and neg. streams interact! Try measuring the current versus position as one thread is slowly scanned across the emitter of an opposite-polarity thread.

    My electrified plastic pen can push on an air thread. I wonder if a tiny plastic hook could grab and manipulate a thread? Braid several threads together! Or at least grab two and force them to cut through each other, see what happens. Of course if an air-thread is akin to a stream of smoke, then this won't happen.

    Pushing on an air thread with an object causes the air thread to move. Is the reverse occurring? Could a moving air-thread deflect a piece of hair, or a glass fiber, or will it simply break and then re-form after the hair has passed through it? I'm imagining a horizontal air-thread which is threaded through a tiny loop of very fine hair. Will the separated loop of hair then dangle in space, supported only by e-fields and by the air-thread, or will it simply fall through the thread?

    It might be possible to make an electrically-driven tornado. Suspend a horizontal charged plate over oppositely-charged water, then arrange a tiny emitter-needle to jut upwards from the water. If an air-thread forms at the needle tip and sends air upwards, mist layer will be entrained with the air flow. Perhaps incoming air will even start to spiral. TRIED IT 6/15, OBTAINED A VERTICAL JET, NO SPONTANEOUS VORTEX THOUGH.

    Another idea: smoke flow above an undisturbed cigarette is sensitive to sound or vibration. So, use a small loudspeaker to pulse the air near the air-thread emitter, then measure the speed of the pulse as it travels down the thread.

    Sharp and conductive fibers? How about carbon fibers? I have a Radio Shack record cleaner brush which has VERY fine carbon fibers as bristles. W. Shank on points out that tungsten wire if evaporated in a propane flame will form an extremely sharp tip. If I can crank up the current without needing immense voltage, then air-flow should increase, making electrostatic tornado demonstrations feasible. (Maybe use a cluster of sharp fibers, rather than one big one.)

    The torn edge of paper creates a "sheet" of air-threads. Try tearing an interesting pattern in the paper, see if it "stamps" this pattern onto the mist layer like a cookie-cutter. Try rolling the torn paper into a circle or triangular cylinder, see if this shape is "transmitted" to the mist layer by the parallel air-threads. Try building "words" from torn, edge-on paper, see if they are stamped into the distant mist-tray. Use a much higher voltage, see if I can "transmit" a word across many feet of space.

    If a row of torn-edge papers was arranged to cover a surface, then a long, parallel, 2D array of airthreads would perforate the mist layer. If a charged object was inserted into the region of air-threads, its "electrical shadow" would appear in the mist. A shadow of a positive or negative wire should "expand" or "contract" the population of parallel air-threads. Serrated-edge paper might create orderly rows of mist-holes, and e-field distortions in the 'test region' between the mist layer and the paper edge array would be made directly visible. Tear the paper to form a grid, then look for distortions in the grid. 6/15

    A very thin, charged wire (such as a tungsten corona-wire from a photocopier) might emit a uniform "sheet" of air-threads from the side.

    If metal tips cause air-blasts and organic fibers do not, then try putting a metal tip on one side of a 10M or 100M smt resistor. So, a metal tip, but with large series R like an organic fiber.

    Marking the threads, use fluorescine dye and 390nM laser, w/black background. Or use fibers wetted with ink or carbon-black, see if a few minutes of thread-impact will be visible on a white surface (or on a water surface?) Under a microscope with UV strobe, perhaps a "frozen" fluorescine droplet will be visible (add a high-freq electrode near the emitter tip, to synch and stabilize the droplet emission.) Advance the phase, to watch the droplets impact a surface, or collide two streams.

    The sky-voltage during clear weather is supposed to be around 100v/meter. If I could create volumes of negatively charged air at a sufficient rate, this air would jet slowly upwards like a enormous air-thread inches or meters in diameter. Would it remain stable and non-turbulent? Given enough time, would it punch a hole in the cloud-deck?! Leave a long slot? If so, then it should be possible to build a large square array of ion-wind sources, and write on the stratus clouds, dot-matrix style. But as the clouds move along, the image would be blurred out as it swept along the clouds' surface. Ah, what if I made a row of air-thread generators perpendicular to the wind direction? Then by flipping a switch I could sweep a clear swatch across the clouds (convert mist into rain?) and thereby turn on the sunshine! Direct simple weather modification technique. Rain-making which actually works! Oh, much worse idea: By turning the generators on and off in a pattern, I could WRITE ON THE SKY. "Drink Pepsi". "NIKE" Heh heh. 6/15

    A giant air-thread generator would take the form of a large-area perforated plate having a single insulated needle pointing out of each perforation, with the needle tip below the plane of the plate. Needle, or carbon-tuft, or hot tungsten, or radioactive pellet, as neg ion emitters (or pos. ions.) Ground the plate, put HV on the needles. If made in the shape of a disk, charged air would move through the plane of the array and upwards, and perhaps the air entrained into the surface of the resulting cylinder of air would force the jet diameter to contract. If the array was built in the shape of a bowl or a cone, with the mouth facing upwards, this jet-contraction effect would be assisted. It resembles a burning pool of gasoline, with flames from the surface all rushing inwards to a central rising column. If slow and laminar, an "air thread" should be launched upwards from the device. Perhaps this is how ALL air-threads arise, since Yost's micrography reveals that the plasma at the tip of an air-thread generating whisker looks like a trumpet mouth, with the air-thread being launched from the axis of the mouth. 6/15

    Ooo! Ooo! Idea! When an air-thread lands on the mist layer, it seems to cause mist droplets to adhere to each other and to the water surface. If projected into a mist cloud, it should cause the mist to collapse into rain. Possibly. Must try it with a descending cloud of dry-ice fog or sonic humidifier fog. If so, then I can start a "rainmaker" service just like charlatans of old. But my linear array of gigantic flute-mouth ion generator needle beds would be no scam, it would actually turn clouds into rain! Set up a row of ion generators to create a "wall" of huge air-threads, and downwind of the wall the clouds would be gone. (Insert maniacal mad-scientist laughter here, which goes on for much longer than is mentally healthy.) 6/15

    When a needle in the mist shoots an air-thread upwards, does the dark core extend through the turbulence, or does it become turbulent itself? A sweeping laser could make the cross-section visible. If the dark core survives the turbulent cloud, it should appear as a stable black dot in the roiling mist section.

    If air-threads are up to 2.5 feet long with only 10KV, how long will they be if I use a VDG generator at 500KV? [Easily a couple of meters, w/200KV VDG near the fog-tray on the kitchen table.]

    If I place a block of dry ice on the sphere of a VDG machine, will it launch straight streamers of mist which follow the field lines?

    If it's possible to send threads and sheets of ion flow from either electrode, what will the threads look like when + and - come together from opposite directions? Will two threads, if they arrive tangentially, tend to create a vortex disk? Will sheets of air- threads tend to create a tiny tornado? Try using tangentially-aimed paper edges affixed to each electrode plane, see if a tornado forms in the center. Or shoot dry-ice mist upwards and clear air downwards, see if a rotating structure will form. 6/16

    Analogy: if crystals of CuSO4 stick to the surface of water, they launch tendrils of blue water downwards. Is this analogous to air-threads, but with gravity and solute rather than e-fields and ions? If so, why do the ion threads stand up to powerful air-jets? The streams of blue water certainly are carried by any water motions, even though they are denser than the water.

    A neon lamp will detect tiny sub-microamp flows. With a capacitor in parallel, it responds with periodic bright flashes rather than a dim glow. Connect a neon lamp to a small metal sphere as an 'air thread' detector (use a sphere because the sharp wires from the lamp might themselves generate air-threads) An array of metal thumbtacks supported in a plastic plate, each connected to a neon lamp, would act as an air-thread detector panel. Pair it with an air-thread emitter panel to view the shadows of charged objects. Pre-charge the neon electrodes just below 90VDC firing, via 100M or 1G resistors. Or maybe use resistors, op-amps, and LEDs as the detector panel? This could be horizontal, while the mist-tray detector cannot. 6/18

    An ion stream rising in a vertical e-field is analogous to warm air rising through the atmosphere in a gravitational field. Rising clouds of ions MIGHT look just like the smoke from a factory chimney. However, there is a difference. Bouyancy forces affect large populations of molecules, while electrostatic forces affect individual ions. At large scales there should be no difference, but at the micro-scale there is a great difference. Since turbulence grows from 'seeds' at the micro scale, then perhaps turbulence behaves differently for hot air than for clouds of ions. Perhaps a cloud of ions can form a narrow, fast-moving, nonturbulent stream, whereas a cloud of hot air would turn into a wide, slow, turbulent cloud like that appearing over a large fire (or like thunderstorm clouds.) If this is so, then a large ion generator could create a narrow stream which would reach upwards and bore a hole in the clouds. A hot air generator such as a fire would generate an expanding turbulent cloud which would drift away under the control of the weather motions present. 6/18

    If I fill the air with incense smoke, perhaps the paths of the air-threads will become visible. Or perhaps not. However, if these threads are a flow of air, then they should entrain the smoke and carry it to the water surface. If instead of water I should use damp paper, then perhaps the pattern of threads will drive smoke into the paper surface and leave black dots, as with charged metal book-shelves placed against a white wall. The "torn paper sign" might allow the incense smoke to write upon the paper! Hey, if I spray some spraypaint into the air which contains the threads, perhaps they will carry the paint droplets to the paper. 6/22

    If I charge a large, slightly damp sheet of paper, then stand a couple of feet in front of it, won't the pattern of threads be "stamping" the shape of my body into the paper? If a helper should spray some paint into the air between myself and the paper, will an image of my body hairs appear on the paper as the threads carry the paint along? 6/22

    Thunderstorms act to charge the earth/ionosphere capacitor, while the ionization of air by cosmic rays acts as a leakage resistor. A single person could not hope to match the net cosmic ray ionization in the atmospheric volume. However, ions from cosmic rays must individually make their way against the resistance of neutral air, and there are as many positive ions going downwards as negative ions going upwards (so no net air motion and very slow ion flow.) If I provide a few amps of ion emission at the earth's surface, perhaps a "chimney effect" column of negative ions will reach upwards and act to discharge the entire earth/ionosphere capacitor. 6/22

    Then CHOP the ion-emitter, to produce AC which a step-down transformer could intercept? Or, just drive some wind-turbines with the chimney-flow, always running even in windless conditions.

    Air-threads seem to impact water surfaces, but what would happen if one hits a hole in a charged metal plate? Will inertia carry it very far? Will it fall apart? Will it loop around and hit the back side? 6/24 [ If sent through the hole of a grounded bundt-cake ring, the thread persists for many cm! ]

    How thin are they? If a thin wire (or carbon fiber) is held just above a metal plate and an air-thred is scanned across it, will the pulse of current in the narrow wire give a clue as to the air thread diameter, or will the wire interfere too much? 6/24

    If interrupting the ground connection allows the drawing of dotted lines in the mist, how big a voltage pulse, if applied to the grounded whisker, will also make dotted lines? Maybe even a low voltage could affect it? Connect the whisker to 120Vac, see if this affects the furrows in the mist. Put a ring electrode near the whisker so that 120V gives a bigger volts/meter, while on the other side of the ring, the H.V. DC supply accelerates the thread's particles as usual 6/24

    Crank the 120VAC up and down w/variac, also try summing it with the DC of an existing air-thread, to see how much voltage it takes to turn the thread on and off.

    How brief a pulse can be sent along an air-thread? Maybe they can be used to transmit audio! World's stupidest way to make a reverb system. But brief pulses could be used to explore the speed of thread-particle flow. 6/24

    Neon bulbs light up at very small current. Send an air-thread current through an NE-2, see if it glows.[TRIED THIS, NOTHING. EVEN IN TOTAL DARKNESS, NOTHING] Put a small capacitor across the leads, see if it flashes. [DIDN'T TRY PRE-BIASING THE NE-2 W/HV THROUGH MEGOHMS SERIES R.]

    The air-thread explores the surface of an object like a conductive finger. Maybe dirt, ink, etc., on the surface will alter the current. Scanning an air-thread across my skin might give a "resistance photograph" of the skin surface. Pick up the signal, as e-field changes near the surface.

    At .5 uA, a 20uA D'Arsonval microammeter barely budges, while a DVM (200mV setting) in series with the microammeter it indicates full scale. If I treat my DVM as a current meter, then 200mV/10meghoms gives 0.1nA resolution! 100mV is really 10nano-amps! Easy to blow out the DVM though.

    Since the threads follow the e-field lines, what would happen if I positioned an oppositely-charged plate on the table adjacent to the charged mist tray and placed objects upon it? The field lines should connect the surfaces together in smooth arcs. Any emitter-covered object which is placed on the charged plate should "appear" in the mist, simultaneously stamped there by the parallel air-threads. Perhaps I didn't have to hold that paper triangle ABOVE the mist. I could have placed it on the table near the tray.

    Analogy: charged particles rising up through the atmosphere might be like smoke rising from a stack. Then again, since the force on each ion could be large in comparison to the air friction holding it back, the cloud of ions might act like an ascending cloud of bubbles, or like a descending cloud of hail or rain. Rain doesn't billow turbulently like smoke, rain tends to form downward jets in a curtain-pattern, where air is entrained with the rain and the entire system appears laminar.

    Giant air-threads marked with mist or smoke, driven upwards by e-fields, we could chop them, so they rise as a visible dotted line, Morse code. Or do ten or hundred streams, for rising dot-matrix artwork or words.

    DC physically carries AC! Very weird: DC in this case is CREATING a lengthening conductor in the form of an air-thread. If AC is impressed on it, then energy is sent along the conductive stream. DC creates the "wire", then AC uses it as a path. Turn off the DC, and the AC current vanishes too, since the "wire" will fade away. (Or does the AC travel at the speed of the thread particles, rather than propagating as waves on a slow-moving flow?)

    How low can the voltage go, yet sharp carbon fibers still create airthreads? If it works at 50cm and 10kv, it should work at 5cm and 1kv, or even at 120VDC with half a centimeter spacing?! Maybe I could "launch" a thread with a low-voltage "gun" assembly, then accelerate it as usual with a "DC aquadag" electrode? 7/28/98

    Dotted line: if the air-thread remains undisrupted when charge density is "rippled" by putting AC on the H.V. supply, then maybe some external electrodes could linearly accelerate the particles within the thread with timed electrostatic pulses. Put a ripple on the thread, then drag the ripple along like a stepping motor rotor. Rather than using a huge accelerating potential, do it with AC like a Linac! First generate a thread by using a whisker and a disk with a hole, then accelerate it by using a stack of disks with AC polarity and gradually increasing gaps! If the stream doesn't go turbulent at 2 meters/sec, exactly how fast can it go? 7/28

    Ultra-slow air-threads. Just send them between two close-spaced glass sheets w/surfaces covered with electrodes (inner surf? outer? Both? Or try narrow tubes! Charged tube, for gas-focusing effect?) At 1mm plate-spacing, the air acts like syrup, or even solid. We could STOP the air-threads on demand, to store data in the thick boundary-layer. Use fluorescent dyes, to make a video display. Or with very dense air-threads, use inks, like e-paper but with the colored droplets suspended in viscous boundary-layer air.

    Eyewitness accounts of "dustdevils" which cross water give evidence that an air-vortex can cause the water surface to take on a pyramidal shape at the place where the vortex-thread terminates on the fluid. Such a shape should act as an ion emitter (or perhaps emit a spray of water), and eject a vertical airflow filled with charged material from the tip of the pyramid. What if we pair the tornado effect with the air-flow effect? This phenomena could allow "electric tornado" demonstrations to be performed on a lab bench. Once a tornado has formed, the "pyramid" will spit particles upwards and keep the suction going. However, it cannot arise spontaneously. If there is a large vertical e-field above the water, there won't necessarily be any pyramid, and no air vortex circulation, and hence no electrically-forced vertical flow. But there is one report of such an effect being produced accidentally. If a conventional vortex-thread should be created above a water surface (use a "tornado box"), and if a large vertical e-field should then be applied (use a charged metal sphere over the grounded water tray, or horizontal plane of metal window screen?), then perhaps an electrically driven miniature tornado will be initiated, and the circulation fan from the Tornado Box can be powered down. The tornado would continue, only it would be driven by a sort of electrostatic linear motor.

    [GIF: click to download]
    Fig. 7 A lone dry-ice chip leaves a mist trail across the charged water. Imagine that this is Cirrus clouds in the sky. Can a ground-based ion generator write on the sky, as my distant fingertips do here?

    Next: make a smoke-box and see if I can see the "threads" directly, or look for their shadows in the spread-out light from a laser with a lens on the end. NO SHADOWS SEEN VIA LASER. IONIZED ENVIRONMENT IMMEDIATELY PRECIPITATES THE SMOKE.

    References, received email

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