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Electricity flow in the air when air is a conductor

  1. Aug 17, 2015 #1
    I have read Tesla's patent and he claims that by rarefying the air enclosed in a vessel its insulating properties are impaired to such an extent that it becomes what may be considered as a true conductor, although one of admittedly very high resistance.And any amount of electrical power can be transferred without a loss.
    Has someone tried this experiment in our century. How can we make so the air acts like conductor with less resistivity?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 17, 2015 #2


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    The Paschen Curves show the breakdown voltage of gasses versus pressure: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paschen's_law

    Don't put too much faith into Tesla's work (including any patents). There is no free lunch. :smile:
  4. Aug 17, 2015 #3
    Thank you for the link and advice.
  5. Aug 18, 2015 #4


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    Absolutely. You can 'Patent' anything you like but you don't have to demonstrate it will work.
    What is it about the Tesla name? He may have been a few years before his time but not many decades /centuries, as people would like to think.
    I wonder, if his name had been Smith or Jones, would he have such a following?
    PS Some of my best friends are Smiths and Joneses so I am not being namist. :wink:

    It might be interesting to make a survey of people who 'lurve' Tesla and find out how many of them have actually ever designed a system or device that works on a commercial level.
    I am contemplating changing my name to Gandalf and marketing a few whacky ideas. I'd bet they would really take off.
  6. Aug 18, 2015 #5
    In general this should be a plasma ( you are moving electrons away from molecules in a gas) - so at that point I would no longer call it air. The phenomena of dielectric ( insulation) breakdown at high altitudes ( low pressures) is well understood.

    There is a weather phenomena that uses plasma conductors - but you do not want to be around it as it happens.
  7. Aug 18, 2015 #6


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    I noticed many many years ago that a lot of Tesla's ideas were a bit off. It seems that only more recently people have been willing to admit this. However, the Tesla worshipping fools never seem to give up.
  8. Aug 18, 2015 #7
    these things have opposite meanings....

    a true conductor (if there is such a thing - maybe a superconductor?) would show negligible resisitance

    a conductor with a very high resistance, is by definition, an insulator.

    When a material is a conductor, and when a material is an insulator depends on context and conditions.

    how can you transfer power without loss across a very high resistance?

    As soon as somebody says "without loss" your alarm bells should ring: you are getting into perpetual motion territory.
  9. Aug 18, 2015 #8


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    If you like good stories about inventors have a look at the life and work of one of our local folk heroes :


    Opinion is divided 50/50 about whether he was a genius or a con artist .

    Some of his work has similarity to Tesla's .
  10. Aug 18, 2015 #9
    I suspect what Tesla was trying to say was that air has a low loss coefficient and transmits EM waves well. To test if he was right about this, turn on a radio.

    I'm one of those who lurves [sic] Tesla. Sure he was a kook. But he gave us AC power and the induction motor. That forgives lots of kookiness IMO.

    Then there's the Tesla coil ... Kooky but still cool.
  11. Sep 5, 2015 #10
    can you explain why i should not be around when air becomes conductor?
  12. Sep 5, 2015 #11
  13. Sep 5, 2015 #12


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    windadct is referring to what zaps out of big black clouds
  14. Sep 5, 2015 #13
  15. Sep 5, 2015 #14
    many years ago when I was a wee boy, we went on a school trip to the Tower Of London. We were told by the Beefeater looking after us that a Grey Bishop called Gandulf built the original White Tower;

    We thought he was winding us up to make the story seem like a fairy tale; but when we went back to school to write up our story, we were told by our teacher that was absolutely true.

    He was the first of the Royal Engineers...

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