Public Outreach

Chapman University: Institute for Quantum Studies

Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics

UC Berkeley: Center for Quantum Coherent Science

University of Rochester

Demonstration Videos

  • Tesla Coil Plasma Speaker

    The music you hear is being produced entirely by the dancing spark at the top of the wire loop!

    This spark is a plasma made out of air that is being ionized by the resonantly driven Tesla Coil underneath the loop. The heat from the ionization expands the air, causing a spherically expanding audio pressure wave. An audio input from a CD controls the modulation of the spark, so the pressure waves reproduce the music in a similar way to a usual speaker. However, unlike with normal diaphragm speakers that tend to emit higher frequencies directionally in a beam-like fashion, all high frequency audio here is spherically expanding in all directions. Moreover, since the plasma arc is massless, there is no inertia to impede any high-frequency vibrations.

    Song: Kaki King - Steamed Little Juicy Bun

    Plasma Speaker: Assembled by me from a kit by Eastern Voltage Research, LLC.

    Demonstration for the Schmid College of Science and Technology at Chapman University.

  • Tesla Coil Plasma Speaker Live Demo

    This demonstration was given during a Schmid College of Science and Technology Open House.

  • Tesla Coil Plasma Speaker: Wireless Energy Transfer

    The LEDs on the nearby coil are being lit via wireless energy transfer between the two coils. Roughly speaking, they are coupled through mutual inductance by the oscillating magnetic field being produced by the main coil. The energy from the field is then "captured" by the other coil and used to power the LEDs on the board. Putting objects in the way changes the mutual inductance, which is why waving a hard nearby dims the LEDs.

  • Tesla Coil Plasmasonic Pulse Mode Test

    The sound you hear is being produced entirely by the bolts of lightning leaping off the top of the Plasmasonic!

    These bolts are plasma made out of air that is being ionized by the resonantly driven Tesla Coil underneath the loop. The frequency of the buzzing tone matches the on-off rate of the pulsed operation of the coil. A power knob and a pulse frequency knob control the device via a handcontroller outside the danger radius, which is connected to the main device by an optical cable. The fluorescent tubes behind the device light up just from the ambient electromagnetic fields, which start the cascading plasma reactions inside the tubes directly. Note how small the spark can be at the top of the coil while still illuminating the tubes.

    Plasmasonic System: courtesy of Eastern Voltage Research, LLC.

    Demonstration for the Schmid College of Science and Technology at Chapman University.

  • Plasmasonic Tesla Coil Band Performance - Discover Chapman Day 2016

    Songs : Ghostbusters Theme, Axel F, The Final Countdown

    Performers : Michael Seaman (keyboard), Aaron Grisez (wiimote percussion), Will Parker (guitar)

    The tonal buzzing sound you hear is being produced entirely by the bolts of lightning leaping off the top of the Plasmasonic! The MIDI drums are being controlled via bluetooth Nintendo Wiimote. The guitar is using a VOX AC30 headphone guitar amp through the same speaker as the Wiimote.

    These bolts are plasma made out of air that is being ionized by the resonantly driven Tesla Coil underneath the loop. The frequency of the buzzing tone matches the on-off rate of the pulsed operation of the coil. The keyboard is plugged directly into the MIDI input of the handcontroller outside the danger radius, which is connected to the main device by an optical cable. The power and frequency of the pulses are controlled by the input MIDI signal from the keyboard.

The Academic Minute

  • Jan. 16, 2016 - Grainy Digital Photographs
  • During a candle-lit dinner a camera clicks: an intimate moment has been captured. The lighting is dim, the exposure brief. Little light sneaks past the shutter. On inspection, the photo is grainy, like static on an old television set.

    But why?

    If light were like waves at the beach or sound waves in the air, it could have any brightness, or, more precisely, dimness. A candle-lit photo would still be dim, but it would not be so grainy. The light level would vary smoothly, like gradually lowering a dimmer switch on the wall from brightness to total darkness, including every dimness in between. The dim light would cover the whole photo smoothly, keeping detail intact, even if difficult to see.

    But light is not a simple wave. The dimmer switch for light is not smooth, but jumps in small steps from one brightness to the next. Each click of Nature’s dimmer switch for light has a name: one quantum of light, also called a photon. A quantum is one of a quantity, one discrete unit, and lies at the heart of quantum physics.

    How do these quanta affect your camera? A digital camera image is gridded into millions of pixels. In bright light these megapixels collect billions of photons, making the discreteness of light nearly invisible, much like the grains of sand composing a sand dune. However, in dim light the pixels collect relatively few photons, which arrive at random times and at random locations. Detail is lost and the image becomes grainy, with spots of bright and dark where photons have and have not yet appeared.

    So, you can thank quantum physics for making your digital photos grainy.