A Shocking New Development at the Science Center!
The Science Center’s new, must-see attraction (located above CenterStage) will absolutely shock you! Or it would, if we didn’t keep it enclosed in a cage specially designed to protect you (and your phone!) from its amazing power…
No, it’s not an exotic animal, it’s…a Tesla Coil!
Come to CenterStage to witness the science and spectacle of the Tesla Coil. Observe as the coil puts on a quarter of a million-volt show of electricity with lightning bolt-like arcs jumping up to five feet from the center. But don’t worry, those high voltage arcs are safely contained by a Faraday Cage which prevents the electricity from escaping (and killing your handheld electrical devices…).
In essence, a Tesla Coil is a transformer – a device that changes the voltage of electricity – just like the ones you can see in our new Experience Energy gallery or hanging on the poles distributing electricity to your neighborhood. Unlike these transformers, which decrease the voltage of electricity to make it safe to use in your home, a Tesla Coil increases the voltage of electricity and releases its energy into the surrounding air. The electrical arcs from the Tesla Coil can power electrical devices held several feet away without any wire connections.
Tesla Coils are capable of rapidly increasing electrical voltage to incredible levels – the one floating over CenterStage transforms 120-volt electricity to more than one million volts, in under a second!
Nikola Tesla, the father of the electric age, invented the Tesla Coil in the late 1800’s. Tesla wanted to use his invention to transmit free, wireless electricity over long distances throughout the world. In fact, at his lab in Colorado Springs, Tesla was able to use Tesla Coil to power lamps 25 miles away.
The Tesla Coil and the promise of airborne power faded quickly as the industrial world adopted wired electricity for its safety and efficiency in transmitting power. (The idea of “free” electricity may also have not been a favorite idea of electric companies, either…) Today, however, the possibility of wireless power is being explored once again. Scientists in the growing field of wireless electricity research are looking to eliminate the power cord to devices like cellphones and laptops. Soon your portable electronics could truly be wireless!
Written by Paul, Public Programs & Education