In a previous post, we had a look at Nikola Tesla, the electricity superstar! But did you know he’s also responsible for creating the very first plasma globe? That’s right, the same man who brought us the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system has also gifted us with this glowing ball of cool! If you’d like to learn more about Nikola Tesla, you can visit our previous post by clicking here. You’ll also find a cool video showing how one of his inventions works, the Tesla Coil.
To understand what plasma is, we need to first understand matter. Matter is anything that has mass or takes up space and it can be found in states like solids, liquids or gases. In fact, you can also be classed as matter because you’re full of atoms that take up the space around you! Plasma is thought to be the fourth state of matter as it is quite different from the other three. Science tells us that plasma is a hot, ionised gas containing almost equal quantities of positively charged ions and negatively charged electrons.
Watch this video to understand more about the 4 states of matter:
The Plasma Globe
To invent the plasma globe, Tesla passed a high-frequency electrical current through a glass tube containing gas, using an electrode (a fancy name for conductor!) at the centre of this tube. Once the electric currents hit the gas in the tube, they created the crazy light parade you see in the plasma globe. The great thing is, different gases can create different colours within the plasma globe and the most common types of gases used include xenon, krypton and neon.
This video demonstrates how a plasma ball works.
Do the sparks and arcs of light remind you of lightning? Lightning is a natural form or Plasma.