Saturday, 27 September 2008

Kirlianesque Plasma

Photo above reminded me of my fascination with Kirlian photography in my teen years. Not so much with the esoteric side of Kirlian photogram, but rather the vibrant colours produced by the objects photographed. What caught my attention was the series of electro photography of petals and leaves, the same subjects I am so fond of even today.

Kirlian photography was accidentally discovered by Russian inventor and researcher Semyon Kirlian in 1939. He discovered “that if an object on a photographic plate is connected to a source of high voltage, small corona discharges (created by the strong electric field at the edges of the object) create an image on the photographic plate.” The result is a smorgasbord of intense colours and images.

While the plasma ball above is more of a curiosity, much like the lava lamps of old. Most plasma ball sold today, while based on the works by previous scientists (especially by Nikola Tesla); was invented in 1970 by Bill Parker of MIT.

A practical application of this plasma ball is to demonstrate the complex fourth state of matter (plasma) to science students.

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