The Turn Of The Century Electrotherapy Museum

Analysis of Tesla Phantom Streamers
Part 1

To study the minute details of electrical discharges provides the electrical experimenter with many hours, days, months, and even
years of entertainment.  No better proof of this has been the discovery of Lichtenberg Figures made by X-Ray and Tesla Coiling
pioneer Thomas Burton Kinraide.  If it were not for the discovery of these strange photographs, made from 1897-1899
in Kinraide's laboratory under his winter home "Ravenscroft", research into this obscure topic would probably
have never been pursued.  After several years of experimentation, I'm left with more questions than answers --
but certainly this is no disappointment:  It offers a whole new realm of experimentation in a field where many
have felt there is little left to learn. 

I live in West Palm Beach, South Florida...the temperature here is normally from 70 - 90 degrees F and with high
humidity.  To put this in a more realistic perspective, I can enter my workshop at midnight and still break a sweat
standing still.  In this high humidity, one would think electrical phenomena would be difficult to produce.  On the
contrary, it is very easy to produce Phamtom streams of a definite positive character even in the highest
humidity.  The percentage of water vapor in the air surely facilitates these discharges.  Normally
they have the appearance of the above streams, faintly visible in a completely dark room.

The apparent thickness of these streams with my current apparatus (consuming only 28 watts from the wall) varies
from approx. 1/8" - 5/16" thick.  When the hand is held near these streams, the streams will bombard the skin with
only a slight sensation.  The streams are unusual in that external objects do not effect the formation of streams elsewhere
on the ball, unless the object is placed within actual sparking distance.  Positive streams 8 - 12" or more can easily
be produced on a coil that will give only a 2 - 3" spark to ground.

This winter the temperatures have been dipping to the 40s - 60s, with low humidity.  At certain times during adjustments of the
spark gap, faint negative streams can be seen issuing from the ball terminal.  As seen in this photo, they are only a fraction of
the length of the positive streams.

In the colder temperatures, with still less humidity, upon opening the gap certain positions of the gap let longer negative
streams appear.  At certain intervals the positive streams disappear, and at others they seem to appear simultaneous, though
from different points on the ball. 

Positive streams can often be seen at the farthest tips of the negative discharges.

At some intervals the ball seems to produce both positive and negative discharges - either superimposed at the same time
or at slightly different intervals appearing as such.   During  situations where both streams are present the positive streams are
longer than the negative streams, making interaction with the negative streams alone impossible.

Closeup of both streams

Positive tips barely seen at the ends of negative streams.  Under this situation (where mainly negative streams are produced) a hand held
in the path of the streams is bombarded by rod-like discharges 1/4" in diameter or more, often seen with bright striations near
the hand. 

These streams produce a slight blistering effect on the skin if allowed in one location for more than a few seconds.
This effect is not as pronounced with the positive streams, but the danger is still present.  It is probable that a combination
of the dehydrating properties of high frequency currents on tissues and the intense UV present is responsible for this,
in addition to intense ozone and nitric acid produced locally...  the percentage of these gases produced is much higher
than with Tesla Coils operating in a normal manner.  While it is common to employ corona discharges to produce ozone,
these coils seem to be more efficient for the purpose - the discharge in some instances covers a sphere of area 16 - 24"
in diameter!

Unique autographs of a charged sphere...note positive and negative streams in series as they form on the surface of the ball.

More to come!


The Turn Of The Century Electrotherapy Museum Phantom Stream Analysis Charts

Pancake Coil:  Secondary cast in Paraffin Wax, Primary Open
Secondary Coil:
200 Turns, 29 AWG, 1.5" ID / 9.0" OD
Primary Coil:
2.5 Turns, .375" wide Copper Ribbon, .1875" EPDM Interleaves
Top Load: Type: Sphere Diameter:  1.75" Distance to Center:  

Date: 17. Jan 2010 Time:  20:00 Temperature:  75 Humidity:  70%  

1. Spark Gap Distance 2. Spark Discharge Length 3. Brush Discharge Length 4. Phantom Length Comments:
.001" .32" n/a n/a Only when approached
.005" .625" n/a 1.5" to ball "
.010" 1.25" n/a 2.0" to ball "
.015" 1.5" n/a 2.25" to ball "
.027" 2" 1" 3" from brush First sight of 3. and 4.
.056" 3" 1.5" 6" from brush Maximum setting

Sample chart of new analysis pages...

(C) Jeff Behary, 2010