Undergrad Invents Plasma Globe By Mistake And Takes It To House Rave

Samuel Reason - December 18th, 2019

As is often the case when it comes to scientific breakthroughs and inventions, the Plasma Globe was invented completely by accident following a mishap in an undergrad’s science lab. Bill Parker is now famous for his invention but as an undergraduate student at the time at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he was trying to build something entirely different: electric powered rockets.

vimeocdn.com

Working late in his research lab in 1971, Parker was attempted to use gaseous fuels to power electrical rocket engines. This is when the mishap happened, most likely due to being tired, Parker left a valve open and filled the chamber up with neon and argon by mistake. You see he had been ionizing these two gases for his experiments of attempting to create rocket thrusts, his idea was that thrust could be created by putting neon or argon in higher pressure environments.

And when he applied voltage, plasma formed everywhere. Parker advised he had higher colored streamers forming all over the engine. So, of course, he immediately took a glass ball, filled it with his new plasma invention and hooked it up to a power supply. Which he promptly took to his girlfriend’s house, as she was having a party and rave that night.

It was not really until three whole years later that a museum of science and art put up the first plasma globe on display, by Parker. It was an exhibit with the idea to encourage people to learn more about electricity and how it worked. The glass sphere would create dancing light, which Parker had previously been using to encourage people to dance at parties.

Now plasma, an ionized gas is often thought of as the fourth state of matter. And it was used as a way of light long before Parker invented the plasma globe. Nikola Tesla invented the inert gas discharge tube, which he tried to market as competition for Edison’s light bulb in the 1890s. Using high voltage he generated plasma and light by ionizing the gas inside the glass tube.

The color of the plasma light depends on the gas in the globe, multicolored ones generally contain helium, xenon, and krypton. Parker who now runs a laboratory and studio for plasma globes uses a trade secret of gas combinations to create beautiful plasma globes.

Next Article
  • Ronald McNair The Astronaut Who Dreamed Big

    Ronald McNair was one of the astronauts that were tragically killed when the Challenger spaceship exploded on Tuesday, January 28, 1986. It was a tragedy of the NASA space program that will never be forgotten. McNair though battled his way through life, always dreaming big and was always exceeding the boundaries he found in front...

    Read More
  • The Woman Crowned King Of Poland

    In 1384, Jadwiga of Poland who was just 10 years old at the time was crowned King of Poland. One thing though was the daughter of Louis I of Hungary and Elizabeth of Bosnia. So why was she not crowned Queen of Poland? Well, that is a whole story of political disputes and royal family...

    Read More
  • The History Of The Burned House Horizon

    During the archaeology of Neolithic Europe, researchers discovered an area of Europe where it appears there was a widespread phenomenon of intentionally burning settlements. This section of land is known as the burned house horizon. No one knows why this a tradition but it was widespread and was a long-lasting tradition around now Southeastern and...

    Read More
  • Myrtle The Story Of The Four-Legged Girl

    Mrs. Josephine Myrtle Bicknell died just one week away from her sixtieth birthday and she was buried not far from her home in Cleburne, Texas in 1928. It was a strange burial because her husband along with other close family members watched the grave filled with a thick layer of cement. They then waited for...

    Read More