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Bizarre Electrical Engineering Project....is it possible?

  1. Nov 30, 2015 #1
    Ok, I've got a project I want to try, mostly for the "why the heck not?" idea, just for the giggles, you know? I just want to see if it's even possible to do. Here's the goal:

    Goal: Create a complete and uninterrupted sphere of electricity.

    This isn't as easy as one might think. It doesn't "have" to be a sphere, I just figure a sphere would be the easier to do this with. The key thing here to note is that I'm not concerned with the efficiency at which electricity is produced nor am I concerned with what happens to the electricity after it's produced. I ONLY care about covering the surface area of the object ENTIRELY in electricity to the point that there is no point AT ALL left naked and free of electrons.

    Now I understand that electricity works kind of like water in that it flows and it must have a loop in order to operate. The other thing to note is that the sphere would have to pretty much levitate (because it can't touch anything, otherwise the sphere wouldn't create a complete sphere of electricity, it'd have a "hole" in the sphere.....it MUST be complete)

    With that brings several questions. Does the ball have to generate the electricity by rotating along a magnet? Would you use magnets to actually rotate it with a motor on either side (the motor rotates and magnets close to but not touching the sphere causes the sphere to rotate, which produces electricity).....

    I'm not an electrical engineer, but this is something I've literally thought of since childhood and I've always wondered...is it possible?

    Given an unlimited budget, could this actually be done, and if so, how?

    Thanks everyone, I look forward to your interesting responses.

  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 30, 2015 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Google ball lightning
  4. Nov 30, 2015 #3


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    Science Advisor

    What you describe sounds like ball lightning:


    Check out the explanations and experiments section.

    EDIT Seems I was beaten to the punch by anorlunda.
  5. Nov 30, 2015 #4
    Hmmmmmm that is interesting. I've literally been researching this for years and that itself never came up. I wonder if this has ever been purposefully manufactured? o_O
  6. Nov 30, 2015 #5
    I don't think anyone knows how to do that, and even reports of natural ball lightning often are dubious.
  7. Nov 30, 2015 #6
    Ah, I should've read billy_joule's post more closely, apparently there have been apparent experiments done, but as you said rootone, none have really been successful at it.

    Why exactly would you think this would be so hard to do and based on that, what specific hurdles would one have to overcome to actually achieve this or something like it?
  8. Nov 30, 2015 #7


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    It's not clear to me exactly what you mean by "electricity".

    (1) Do you want a sphere which has a uniform charge on its surface so that there is an excess of electrons everywhere? If so, this is pretty easy, Just take a conducting sphere, and charge it up. Then there will be a uniform charge everywhere on the surface.

    (2) Or do you want a current flowing everywhere on the surface of the sphere? If so, this is not possible. There is a mathematical theorem called Schur's lemma that guarantees that there will be at least one point on the sphere where the current is zero. It's the same as trying to imagine that the wind is blowing everywhere on the surface of the Earth. It is not possible, there must be at least one point where the wind velocity is zero.
  9. Nov 30, 2015 #8
    Does this mean then that reports of naturally occurring ball lightning just have to be discounted as some kind of illusion?
    I do suspect that.
  10. Nov 30, 2015 #9


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    Staff: Mentor

  11. Nov 30, 2015 #10
    and this
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