USB Plasma Ball

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A Cube Friendly Nikola Tesla Classic

We are certain you’ve seen these plasma balls before. They’ve been around ever since bad hair bands from the eighties. Recently they’ve become available in tech friendly USB versions so we’ve decided to put this classic on your must have list. Our only question really is why can’t we have amazing, affordable, *NEW* desktop science toys invented in the twenty first century? Things like mini USB desktop wormholes, or keychain Schroedinger’s kitten boxes? If you can’t give us jetpacks, at least make some for our action figures…

But ThinkGeek, How does the USB Plasma Ball Really Work?
Glad you asked. A combination of interesting and fun gasses (like Argon) are first trapped inside a plastic sphere at relatively low pressures. An alternating current, at relatively high voltages (Hey, this is USB remember, so it can’t get too crazy), are pumped into the sphere via an electrode in the center. This energy causes electrons to be stripped from the gasses,leaving in its wake some positively charged ions and a gorgeous gaseous and electrically conductive environment (aka Plasma). That high voltage served up through the electrode will now arc up through the plasma to the lower voltage edge of the plastic sphere (starting at the top where the temperature is greater). The arcs glow because they are hotter than the surrounding plasma. You can touch the plastic and the arcs will strongly congregate to your touch because you will be creating an even lower voltage jump from the electrode. All this made possible by the evil genius of Nikola Tesla, oh, and some science.

Powered by an included USB cable, this desktop Plasma Ball is about stands about 6 inches high and includes an on/off switch. While it emits a very low current, it does so at a relatively high-voltage and so it does produce some EMF. Respect your plasma ball and it will respect you!

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