Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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rear-facing Van der Graaff generator for cars

  [vote for,

This idea is for a rear-mounted Van der Graaff generator to be mounted on cars to ward off tailgaters. When someone comes too close you operate the switch on the dashboard (a knife switch, as in all the monster laboratories in old horror films) and impressive sparks arc out to the car behind.

Possibly, energy for the sparks could come from some sort of induction braking system.

Alarming but perfectly harmless to the car behind of course as the car body acts like a Faraday cage, protecting the occupants from the sparks. In any case they should have been warned against coming too close by the fact that your car appears to have been welded together from bits of lots of different models of cars (don't worry, it's just an after-market body kit) and has an enourmous bolt going through it.
hippo, Jun 22 2004

Van de Who? http://www.howstuffworks.com/vdg.htm
[PainOCommonSense, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Jacob's Ladder http://www.bio.miam...b/tesla.html#jacobs
This is what it is. [GenYus, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Can I build a Van der Graaff generator from lego? http://www.physicsf....com/archive/t-1001
Now this *is* a halfbaked idea. [hippo, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       The sparks would more likely go to the road, unless the car behind is *really* close. And in my experience, driving a junk car makes the guy behind want to pass you even more urgently, possibly because they're afraid that bits will fall off and damage their paintwork. Perhaps in countries where crazy drivers might have a loaded revolver in the glove compartment, behaviour may differ.
English Bob, Jun 22 2004

       Since the early 1930s There has been a distinct lack of mad scientists with new inventions promoting the Van De Graff (correct spelling) so without question this gets a bun for that. For any budding megalomaniac please follow the link for more Static Information.
PainOCommonSense, Jun 22 2004

       # they're afraid that bits will fall off and damage their paintwork   

dpsyplc, Jun 22 2004

       Will there be a Jacob's ladder mounted to the boot lid? You can't have a proper monster laboratory without at least one Jacob's ladder (link).
GenYus, Jun 22 2004

       Correct spelling is Van de Graaff.   

       I built one of these in 5th grade - made 500kV sparks (about 4-5"). Lots of volts, very little current.   

       [hippo]'s car idea gives me to consider: could a VdG be constructed using a car's tires as the belt? Tires would have to be made of strongly non-conductive material (no black, i.e. carbon-containing rubber!)   

       Roadway material might have to be treated in a way so as to make it right on the triboelectric continuum, but auto bodies are already getting more and more rounded, optimal for charge conservation.   

       Appropriate conductive points would collect the charge picked up by the insulating tires, and transfer this charge to the semi-spherical conductive auto body.   

       One would have to remove any antennae, as they would serve to concentrate the charge (on second thought, these might make St Elmo's Fire, or corona discharge, which would look pretty cool at night!)   

       A large highly charged metallic bun for you!
csea, Jun 22 2004

       Pastry for (pretty much) anything involving VdGGs, no matter how silly.
<off-topic trivia>Incidentally, the first music played on BBC Radio One was recorded by Van der Graaf Generator.)</ott>
angel, Jun 22 2004

       Be *really* careful when filling the gas tank on this thing.
RayfordSteele, Jun 22 2004

       [Tabs]: 'Flowers in the Rain' was the first record ('Excerpt from a Teenage Opera' was the second). 'Theme One', written by George Martin and subsequently recorded by VdGG, was the station ID and was played on start-up and closing (until they went 24 hour). </even sadder (and probably older) git>
angel, Jun 23 2004

       I have noticed at least 6 different types of spelling for the Van De Graaff Generator (correct spelling as provided by [csea]).   

       2) Van der Graaff [hippo] 3) Van De Graff (my own foolish typo) 4) VdG [csea] 5) VdGG [Angel] 6) Van der Graaf Generator [Angel] (presumably this is the actual name of the band)   

       I feel the need for some ISO Abbreviation to avoid these issues. I opt for the currently popular VdGG (notably lower case d and two G's).
PainOCommonSense, Jun 23 2004

       On mature consideration, a bun for the whole mad scientist aura thing.
English Bob, Jun 23 2004

       Can I get one in green?
energy guy, Jun 23 2004

       [energy guy]: Only if it's copper, and you shock it a few times.
shapu, Jun 23 2004

       Actually I think you want a Tesla coil. More compact, more juice. +
sartep, Jun 23 2004

       // [cue-evi-laugh]//
<distant click of a hand-dryer as it almost switches on>
coprocephalous, Jan 13 2009

       If you want to shower a tailgater with sparks you would be better off installing body-lowering hydraulics with skid plates on the bumper.
Jscotty, Jan 13 2009

       or simply a piece of angle-iron on an hydraulic arm... that would actually work though you just might want to doublecheck where your fuel tank is in relation to sparks produced *before* you give it a shot on the interstate.
FlyingToaster, Jan 13 2009


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