Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Explode wires above paper to capture images
  [vote for,

CAUTION: Lethal High Voltage /Energy System Described. Do Not Attempt if you are Untrained in Safety Working With High Voltages!

Simply take a handy household energy storage capacitor (e.g. 2mfd, 10kV,) a variable high voltage power supply (0- 10kV), suitable charging resistor and a discharge switch (ignitron or mechanical.)

Add a couple of jumper cable leads to route the energy through a a length of fairly fine wire (~30 gauge copper, slightly thicker aluminum, tin/lead solder, etc.)

Place the fine wire held by the cable clips in an explosion- proof box (2x4" wood, 3/4" lexan cover is suitable at these energies.) Insert a piece of paper about 1/2" below the wire, and initiate the discharge. The resulting "bang!" will leave a fine image of metallic vapor deposits in the paper.

Color of the impression will vary with type of wire exploded. At certain energies, the vapor will clump into striations due to the influence of the very large magnetic field caused by the rapid discharge on the plasma as it travels from where the wire had been to the paper. At lower energies, the metal may fail to fully vaporise, but provide skipping molten droplets which leave dotted or dashed trails.

Varying initial shape, curvature, distance above paper, type of paper, and energy level will result in a gamut of images.

csea, Nov 04 2013

Lichtenberg figures http://www.captured...s/lichtenbergs.html
Not quite the same thing, but cool enough to be worth linking to. [Wrongfellow, Nov 04 2013]

Related concept http://xkcd.com/260/
Doing art with high voltages and stuff [neutrinos_shadow, Nov 04 2013]

Ignitron http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignitron
mercury pool with igniter electrode [csea, Nov 05 2013]


       Where's the hydro bit?
Alterother, Nov 04 2013

       [Alterother]; plasma can be considered a fluid, I guess.
neutrinos_shadow, Nov 04 2013

       You must try this.   

       Is there really such a thing as an ignitron? OK, how about an ignintron? Because one of those would be helpful for those of us who are ignint. And our mommas dress us funny.
bungston, Nov 04 2013

       This idea could be greatly enhanced by replacing the fine wires with a variety of small mammals.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 04 2013

       Thomas Edison already did that. Reviews were mixed.
Alterother, Nov 04 2013

       // small mammals. //   

       Sp. "cats".   

       This is baked, in numerous ways - albeit unintentionally. The // explosion- proof box // is a good feature as previous experience indicates than the exterior casings of many consumer devices (particularly hand-held technology) are grossly inadequate to contain even a moderate detonation, which is amusing for onlookers but not for the tester.
8th of 7, Nov 05 2013

       Aluminized Mylar (one way mirror material) in place of the wire also shows spectacular ablation, mostly transverse to the current flow. This is interesting, as the material is an insulator at low voltages, but conducts at several kV voltages.   

       See [link] for info on Ignitrons.
csea, Nov 05 2013


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