Dot Physics

What the heck is this answer 3

Congratulations Fran. Not only did she answer the “What the heck is this?” correctly, she was the first commenter.

Here is the original item:

i-7b17a3fe03332f4accc11f1d746edcd6-2010-09-07_untitled_2.jpg

It is of course a gas discharge tube. You put these tubes in there (as shown above) with helium or neon or whatever in there and it excites the gas to give off light.

Honestly, we have like 10 of these things laying around. Some of them are newer and say “Danger 5000 volts”), but these older ones say nothing. Here is an example of one of the first ones I saw.

i-dca4b15173280af2bb620f923cc461e1-2010-09-07_picasa_3_5.jpg

I didn’t figure out what it was for a while because most of the ones we have don’t have those metal clips that hold the tube – just two posts sticking up.

This seems like a super dangerous design. For comparison, here are two other models (that we actually use).

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The one on the left is the older one (isn’t it obvious). You could stick your fingers in the two white tube holders and shock yourself, but you would have to try. The newer one is pretty much safe for toddlers. The only dangerous part of the newer one is that you could drop it on your foot. Of course you can’t even change the bulb.

Comments

  1. #1 Andrew
    September 7, 2010

    That Cenco PS might make a decent Jacob’s ladder, if you encased it properly.

  2. #2 Sili
    September 7, 2010

    Of course you can’t even change the bulb.

    I didn’t know Apple did science equipment.
    ;)

  3. #3 stripey_cat
    September 7, 2010

    I wish I’d taken a photo of the tube-holder that electrocuted my physics teacher (luckily she wasn’t hurt worse than a sore hand, and a few burns from sparks where her clothing singed). It was an amazing contraption of black-leaded iron in a lovely pierced case design – I shudder to think how long it’d been sitting in the back of the prep-room. Even after I rewired it, though, they wouldn’t let us power it up again – apparently they insist on double insulation now for such things. I believe it went into a time-capsule box on the top shelf of the store.

  4. #4 CCPhysicist
    September 7, 2010

    I still want to see video of an experimental measurement of the breakdown of air at that frequency using that lovely old device.

  5. #5 film izle
    October 12, 2010

    I wish I’d taken a photo of the tube-holder that electrocuted my physics teacher (luckily she wasn’t hurt worse than a sore hand, and a few burns from sparks where her clothing singed). It was an amazing contraption of black-leaded iron in a lovely pierced case design – I shudder to think how long it’d been sitting in the back of the prep-room. Even after I rewired it, though, they wouldn’t let us power it up again – apparently they insist on double insulation now for such things. I believe it went into a time-capsule box on the top shelf of the store.

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