h a l f b a k e r y
Contrary to popular belief
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If you have one of those plasma spheres
(the glass balls which make spidery
electric arcs), and you hold your finger
against it for a few moments, your finger
will then smell funny. The smell is not of
burnt flesh, but is more like metal vapour/
ozoney smell - it's vaguely like the smell
you sometimes get when you break an old
Whatever it is, it's remarkable and oddly
pleasant. Very difficult to explain unless
you try it yourself. It's sort of clean and
fresh but also oddly organic and
I'd like to see this strange smell analysed,
and made available as an aerosol room
freshener. I couldn't find a "smell"
category, but suggestions welcome.
smell category under product
[xandram, Oct 07 2007]
What does Ozone smell like?
I think that's what you're smelling. [jutta, Oct 07 2007]
||I never thought to smell my fingers after playing with my balls. But I shall try it next time.
||I think it's the same smell as the inside of old cased UV lamps for erasing EPROMS.
||BTW, don't sniff it too much, Ozone is toxic.
||[Jutta] thanks for the link (and for
finding the right category - I missed it).
completely convinced that the smell is
ozone (it seems more metally,
somehow, than the linked description),
but it may well be.
||Actually, I guess it probably is. I tried
holding various conductive objects
against the plasma sphere, and each
produced the same smell (so, it's not
dependent on the composition of the
thing being zapped). Whatever it is
must come either from the air or
possibly from the glass.
||Maybe it's some nitrogen compound
(from atmospheric nitrogen). Allegedly,
lightning creates nitrogen compounds.
||What is strange is the way the smell
seems to stick to whatever is held
against the plasma sphere. Try it if you
have one to hand.
||Ozone is probably sticky, because it is
reactive. I would think that whatever it
stuck to would smell like oxidized
thing, but that does not seem to be the
case. I have an old teslacoil that was
once part of an ozone generator (1930s
health device I believe) and although it
makes a very strong ozone smell,
nothing smells burnt.
||Yes - and you can even draw a small arc between your finger
and the sphere directly.
||My understanding is that the inner and outer faces of the
glass act like a very small capacitance; the electrode in the
centre is oscillating at very high frequency. Therefore, a
small high-frequency AC can in effect pass through the glass
(ie, across the capacitor), allowing the arc.