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Anyone want Paul Kolac's ball lightning generator?

  1. Jun 25, 2012 #1
    Anyone want Paul Kolac's ball lightning generator?

    NOTE: The existence of "ball lightning" is well accepted by some scientific communities, notably submarine engineers (because it has been seen near batteries inside submarines, though reproduction outside submarines has been problematic), and aviation engineers (because it has been seen near aircraft wingtips, in flight).

    HOWEVER, there is no scientific consensus on its exact nature. Few people have repeatably reproduced it under laboratory conditions - e.g. Paul Kolac and his colleagues, and a group at Sandia National Laboratories.

    Paul Kolac worked on lasers, lightning and plasma fusion, and collected related scientific equipment. At the end he worked out of his garage, with minimal funding, in large part on a ball lightning generator, which his colleagues say worked. He used copper plating to protect the home appliances from the EMP.

    His widow wishes to clear out the garage, and would give it all away to a good home for little or no money. She primarily hopes the equipment would be used in scientific research. She possibly might hope to get back the value of the copper plating.

    Most of the equipment is about 30 years old. The ball lightning was not generated in a visible location, but is captured by 3 high speed cameras, also old, but usable. The equipment was last used in 2004. Some of the people who operated it are still around, and can provide operational details.

    Safety considerations: The equipment uses high voltages, creates an electric sparc and a bright flash, and generates an EMP.

    Paul believed that ball lightning is a plasma state (plasmoid), confined by magnetic fields generated by moving charged particles within the plasma itself. He hoped the plasmoid would remain confined if compressed to the pressures and temperatures at which plasma fusion can occur, but lacked the time, funding and collaboration necessary to test this hope. It is extremely difficult to obtain funding for plasma fusion experiments, which are very expensive, and it is a contentious field.

    Regardless, there may be other scientific applications for a ball lightning generator. Or perhaps one could create a fun undergraduate physics lab experiment, or a museum exhibit, provided safety needs can be met.

    If you respond with your contact info and intended application, I will pass the info onto his widow.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 25, 2012 #2
    BTW, this thread is not intended to discuss the very controversial claims sometimes made about ball lightning's nature, or what it can be used to do. Until there is scientific consensus on these matters, the discussion in this forum would be largely pointless, and I lack the technical knowledge to discuss it. It is only an offer of a piece of laboratory apparatus, to those with an interest and adequate laboratory safety skills to handle it.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012
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