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A Faraday cage is an enclosure formed by a conducting material that protects a person inside. All writing on the Super Tight Stuff is licensed under the Creative Commons license, and must be attributed to us whenever used. Members of Arc Attack watch as lightning strikes a Faraday cage at Maker Faire 2012 held in San Mateo, California on May 19th, 2012. Two volunteers stand inside a Faraday cage during the Arc Attack performance at Maker Faire 2012 held in San Mateo, California on May 19th, 2012.
If there is an epicenter for the folklore around people starting multi billion dollar companies out of their garage, Silicon Valley would surely be it.
Located at the center of Stanford University, the Stanford Memorial Church was built by Jane Stanford as a memorial to her husband Leland. There is nothing quite like watching your favorite band play live at an amazing concert venue or music festival. How would the United States survive an EMP blast? Many people say that an EMP would cripple the country. When discussing what measure can be taken to guard against an EMP; it’s first necessary to get rid of a few myths. Another false concept is that EMP “out of the blue” can harm your body or cause major damage to your brain way lightning strikes can. Concentration of metal, wiring etc…  is the main reason that most electrical equipment would be destroyed by the EMP. A Faraday box is the easiest way of protecting most small electrical equipment that can be unplugged from the power source.
Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem?Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet. I've always had a soft spot for Michael Faraday, for any number of reasons, but one of those reasons is that he was a brilliant experimentalist with world-class instincts for investigating the behavior of this strange new phenomenon, and yet he possessed only rudimentary mathematical skills -- something that hampered the broad acceptance of his concept of how electromagnetism worked.
And then there was his discovery of the magneto-optical effect, namely, how light is affected by a magnetic field.
Plasmas pop up semi-frequently at the cocktail party (see prior posts here and here), in part because we think they're really cool. It's the conductance capability of plasmas and the similarity to certain metals that make plasmas attractive as an alternative material for the antenna of the future. Everything vibrates at a natural resonant frequency, and an antenna exploits this effect to transmit and receive electromagnetic waves at a selected frequency. Metal antennas have withstood the test of time because scientists really haven't found anything that works better, once all the technological, economic, and practical use parameters are figured into the equation.
Physics history buffs might recognize the concept as a high-tech version of a Crookes tube. We mentioned earlier that plasmas have very high densities of electrons, ergo, they are excellent conductors.
Perhaps this sounds like a bad thing, but depending on the application you have in mind, it's actually a huge advantage -- for, say, US Navy ships keen on avoiding detection by enemy radar. Ships using surface wave radar also often experience problems with the high metal masts installed on board, since they can interfere with each other.
Loose translation: you can configure a plasma antenna to be receptive to certain frequencies while blocking out others. That's another huge advantage, because one plasma antenna can perform the same function as several conventional metal antennas. An array of such smart plasma antennas, when coupled with cutting-edge signal processing software, could maximize signal strength and reduce interference of signals from cell phone towers. Sure, we can measure brain waves using electroencephaolography (EEG), but these signals are so faint they have to be amplified thousands of times over before our cutting-edge machines can detect them and turn them into readable data.
The POSEIDON Adventure.Casting about for some small thing you can do to be environmentally responsible?
It's an incredible image, one that might give anyone pause about hopping into an airplane anytime soon, but I felt better after reading up about the underlying science of thunder and lightning on the NLSI Website, and encourage others to browse some of their pages, too. In essence, both the aircraft and the car act like a Faraday cage (also known as a Faraday shield), an enclosure specifically designed to exclude electromagnetic fields. Of course, lightning can still do some serious damage if a tiny spark infiltrates the fuel system.
So lightning is a pretty powerful phenomenon, and despite its familiarity, there's a lot about it that scientists still don't quite understand -- things like ball lightning, for instance. That sense of wonder has always been the human response to thunder and lightning throughout history. In 1745, a Dutch physicist named Pieter van Musschenbroek invented the Leyden jar -- little more than a glass jar partially filled with water, with a conducting wire projecting from its cork. We all know the story of Franklin's subsequent kite-and-key experiment, by which he proved that lightning was a very powerful form of static electricity. In addition to advancing scientific understanding about the nature and behavior of lightning -- and therefore, by extension, of electricity -- Franklin also invented the lightning rod, and a device called lightning bells, which would jingle whenever lightning was in the vicinity of his house. There were the usual magic tricks, illusions, and fun science demos as a warm-up act, and even contortionist who squeezed her entire body into a one-meter cube.
We here at Cocktail Party Physics salute Singh, Franklin, Faraday, Edison, Tesla, and all the other pioneers of electromagnetism, with not one, not two, but three physics cocktails (four if you count two versions of the same one). Jennifer Ouellette: The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie ApocalypseWe could all be a little bit mathier, right? Listening to the Drums of FeynmanThe perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
The Black HoleSo called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
The cage directs current around the object in the middle, effectively insulating it from the dangers of the electrical current. Dedicated in 1903, the church was one of the earlier non-denominational churches on the West coast of the United States and survived through two major earthquakes in 1906 and 1989. Some think it may come from the government detonating an nuclear bomb in the atmosphere, and others say that solar flares from the sun will create an EMP blast across the country. While the two (lightning and EMPs) each produce similar results; an EMP is actually more like to a super-charged radio wave.
Insulating with cardboard, rubber, plastic or even wads of paper are acceptable methods.(2) The metal shielding must be continuous. Although EMP and lightning strike are very different in the big picture; a good example how NOT grounding your Faraday box is beneficial would be to look at lightning strikes on a flying plane.
Faraday suspected (correctly) that electricity, magnetism and light were all connected, and he concocted an experiment with polarized light to test this hypothesis. You can see magnetic field lines -- what Faraday called lines of force -- by sprinkling iron filings onto a sheet of paper held over a bar magnet. This is the second time (at least) the DPP has done something like this, and once again it was hugely popular.
Jen-Luc Piquant is still mourning having missed out on making her own impressive lightning arc, or manipulating a glowing plasma with magnets. Mostly, though, it comes up because plasmas are pretty darned important in all kinds of different ways, not least of which would be fluorescent lighting, and that cutting-edge plasma TV some lucky readers might have in their homes (although rumor has it those TVs are a major energy suck).

The 1500+ DPP attendees heard all about it from Igor Alexeff, a professor emeritus of the University of Tennessee and currently chief scientist of a small start-up company in Brookfield, Massachusetts called Haleakala R&D.
Basically, the energy of the incoming wave couples to the tuned structure, just like those old Memorex commercials where Ella Fitzgerald shatters a crystal wine glass with her voice.
But they only conduct when the voltage is turned on, unlike metal antennas, which conduct all the time.
A regular metal antenna will backscatter any incoming radar signals, giving away the ship's presence and enabling a potentially hostile craft to pinpoint its location. Conventional metal antennas pick up interfering signals quite easily, along with noise bouncing off nearby objects. It involves deliberately confusing the radar signal by hitting it with intense signals at just the right frequency to make its readings unreliable.
Some scientists are studying the big brown bat in hopes of figuring out how to combat jamming in the ultrasonic frequency range; those interested in combating radar jamming are looking to things like plasma antennas. Either you can reduce the number of antennas you need, cutting down on clutter and weight, or you can exploit this feature to build an array of many small plasma elements that the user could reconfigure simply by turning one (or more) of the various elements on or off. There is, needless to say, no scientific basis for such a thing, or for its partner in Pseudoscientific Crime, telekinesis. You then must figure in the inverse square law, which basically says that a signal will be strongest at its source and spread outward rapidly until it dissipates entirely, because the same amount of energy (it's conserved!) is being divided across a greater area.
Mental telepathy might be a silly notion, but the concept has inspired some pretty exciting new technology.
In a field of showy alternative energy candidates like biofuels, solar cells, fuel cells, and powerful wind turbines, the challenge of eking out bits of excess energy that would otherwise be wasted as heat to make incremental improvements in energy efficiency seems a bit, well, proletarian. For instance, back in 2002, his team made science news headlines when they published two papers in Physical Review Letters providing the first glimpses inside an antihydrogen atom. It has been particularly hot and humid of late, the atmosphere heavy with collected moisture, and the weather pundits have been predicting thundershowers for days now.
It was the ceremonial blasting of a portion of the old Wilson Bridge in Alexandria, Virginia, mentioned in an earlier post. Apparently planes can handle a lightning strike just fine, thanks to all the safety precautions that have been in place for more than 30 years. The British scientist Michael Faraday built the first one in 1836 to demonstrate his assertion that the charge on a charged conductor travels along the exterior surface and doesn't influence anything enclosed within it. That's what happened the last time a commercial plane crashed in the US due to lightning, in 1967: a spark from the lightning ignited in the fuel tank and caused a big explosion. There's a decent primer here about how scientists think lightning works, even though they're still a bit fuzzy on some of the details.
Most cultures have some version of a thunder god, with references found in the Koran, in Norse mythology, in Hindu pantheism, in Bantu tribal lore, and among the Navajo Native Americans. First, there is the High Voltage: combine 6 parts tequila with 3 parts peach liqueur, and 1 part lime juice.
In a shaker filled with cracked ice, combine 1 ounce of Campari with 1 ounce of fresh lemon juice. The air surrounding the person acts like an insulator, as long as they don’t touch the mesh that composes the cage they should be perfectly safe. There’s even been a congressional committee put together that was created to discuss the threat of an EMP on the United States. Any bright ideas about using lightning-rods, lightning arrestors  or any such grounding techniques will undoubtedly fail in protecting equipment from EMP.
If the object placed in the box is insulated from the inside surface of the box, it will not be affected by the EMP travelling around the outside metal surface of the box. If you have electrical equipment with such components, it must be very well protected if it is to survive EMP.
He came from working class origins: he was the son of an English blacksmith, apprenticed to a bookbinder at 14.
The event ran for two days, and offered loads of hands-on activities and demonstrations to teach the Orlando populace about this ubiquitous fourth state of matter known as plasma. An antenna is just a conductive, solid metal wire sized in such a way to emit and receive electromagnetic radiation at one or more selected frequencies -- usually in the radio end of the spectrum (which is actually a pretty broad range). She can do it because she sings and holds a note that resonates at the natural resonant frequency of the glass.
A plasma antenna replaces the metal wire conducting element of a standard antenna with ionized gas enclosed in a sealed glass or ceramic tube: argon, neon, helium, krypton, mercury vapor, or zenon, to name a few gases that have been used in experiments to date.
Apply an electrical current to the glass tube, and the interior would glow in pretty fluorescent colors -- the result of energized electrons interacting with residual gas inside the tube and emitting radiation.
This means that once you turn off the voltage that creates the plasma in the first place, the substance reverts to a neutral gas. The fact that a plasma antenna ceases to exist when it is turned off and not in use significantly reduces this type of interference. The various windows can even be opened and closed in a particular sequence to steer the antenna beam. I know, I know, the idea of mental telepathy is so very seductive, but wishful thinking does not good science make. Researchers really are experimenting with implanted computer interfaces, such as the folks at Duke University who outfitted macaque monkeys with the things in 2000 so the monkeys could move a robotic arm from a remote location, or the Emory University researchers who implanted a transmitting device into the brain of a stroke patient, linking the motor neurons to silicon so he could move a cursor on a computer monitor just by thinking about it.
Add in breakthroughs like the configurability, switchability, and directivity potentially offered by plasma antennas, and one day we might not have telepathy and telekinesis, per se, but the technological equivalent.
Too bad we're not making comparable strides in the energy sector, because without sufficient energy, how will those sturdy little silicon chips be able to run? But it's a start, because hybrids are an economic bridge to the electric cars of the future, according to Michael Tamor, an executive technical leader at Ford Research who spoke this afternoon on the re-electrification of the automobile. One could almost envision the poor, lonely drudges doomed to try and recover snippets of wasted heat energy for all eternity in Dante's Ninth Circle of Hell, while Lucifer looks on and snickers. So says David de Jager, an energy and environmental consultant with E-Concern in The Netherlands.
We'll be back to regular posting at Cocktail Party Physics on Monday, and in the meantime -- the links above should give you plenty to read, and fret over.
The Weather Gods had no compunction about dropping vats of rain onto the DC area on the evening of July 4th, for instance. Passengers might see the flash, and hear the thundering boom, but generally the aircraft will fly through the flash, and the current will travel along the highly conductive aluminum surface. Tons of precautions are in place today to protect the fuel system from a repeat occurrence, and thus far they've proven perfectly sufficient. And we've figured out that thunder is basically the audible pressure wave produced by lightning -- specifically, the sudden rapid expansion of super-heated air in the vicinity of the path of current. Now is the perfect time to re-acquaint yourself with the details, since Franklin turned 300 this year. He used a Leyden jar to create a spark, which traveled from the roof to the can, igniting the gases. Not only is Singh a prolific author -- The Code Book is one of our all-time faves -- but he is also something of a scientific performance artist. A car works as a Faraday cage when it is struck by lightning, as does the aluminum body of an aircraft.

National Geographic aired a made for TV movie called American Blackout, and while it received mixed reviews there were a few lessons that we could take away from it. The Faraday box simple and cheap and often provides more protection to electrical components than “hardening” through circuit designs which can’t be (or haven’t been) adequately tested.
Some might have considered this a sucky job, but the young Faraday took advantage of access to all that knowledge, and read voraciously (I was one of those kids who started reading very early, and would compulsively read a cereal box if that's all that was available to me). Faraday endured the poor treatment for the sake of all the stimulating ideas and European scientists he encountered along the way. Faraday found that if he turned on an electromagnetic, it would rotate slightly the polarization of the light, proving there was some sort of connection.
In particular, Faraday gave a series of famous Christmas lectures each year at the Royal Institution.
Apply a voltage at a radio-wave frequency to the tube, and you get that all-important coupling effect, resulting in the gas inside becoming ionized.
So it's not surprising that the US military is keenly interested in developing plasma antenna technology.
But certain insects have evolved a kind of frequency jamming ability to disorient a hungry bat. Plus, we have just learned -- courtesy of Greg Laden -- that some wacky researchers at the University of Arizona have built robots driven by the tiny brains of moths. He opened his Tuesday morning presentation by pointing out that an electrical doorbell is pretty much hooked up all the time and therefore draws about 5 watts continuously year-round -- more if it's lit up, and when someone presses it. It's probably already too late for merely implementing mitigation strategies, according to Rosina Bierbaum of the University of Michigan. Jen-Luc Piquant was a bit more on the ball; she watched the whole spectacle from Cyberspace, and even brought back this video footage of the event itself, courtesy of the Washington Post.
In fact, aircraft can often trigger lightning just by flying through a heavily charged cloud formation.
The delay between seeing the flash and hearing the thunder occurs because light travels faster than sound. We missed Franklin's actual birthday on January 17th -- Cocktail Party Physics was born a few weeks later -- but the celebration of Franklin's  Tercentenary has been going on all year. He and collaborator Richard Wiseman (psychology professor by day, magician by night) made an electrical spectacle of themselves across the pond last year, wowing London audiences with their production Theatre of Science. It also creates a stunning effect, especially when combined with the gigantic Tesla coil you see in the photo. The basic rule of thumb is that its total length should be half the wavelength of the desired incoming signal wave you wish to receive. This is especially problematic for short-range ground penetrating radars used in petrochemical and mineral exploration. I wrote previously about the big brown bat's unique strategy for protecting itself against jamming. Figure out how to control a miniaturized plasma antenna array with your wireless laptop, and it may one day be possible to share your computer data wirelessly with just one other user in a crowded room filled with wireless laptop users.
Indeed, the commercial success of the Prius -- and of the emerging fleet of other hybrid vehicles, from Ford and other automakers -- is due in large part to the fact that people believe they are reaping enough benefits (environmentally and in fuel efficiency) to justify the higher price tag. It also delayed my much-anticipated flight to Buenos Aires by 12 hours because -- I was horrified to learn -- our aircraft had been struck by lightning as it sat there on the tarmac, minding its own business, awaiting its turn at our assigned gate. I initially found this difficult to believe, but then Jen-Luc sadistically taunted me with the visual proof below, courtesy of the folks at the National Lightning Safety Institute (NLSI).
Faraday's 19th century version was an entire room coated with metal foil; he built it himself. Despite all these safety precautions, in the case of my Buenos Aires flight, the lightning strike occurred while the aircraft was grounded.
But the fact that it's familiar doesn't make it any less impressive; I still thrill to the experience of a sudden summer thunderstorm, even if it means I get soaked should shelter not be close at hand. In fact, the force of the explosion was sufficient to quite literally blow the roof off that sucker. Science rests on centuries (at this point) of tried-and-true experiments, replicated over and over again, each time with the same result. The video below shows high voltage cable inspection using a helicopter and a man in a Faraday cage, as long as the helicopter isn’t grounded they can be raised to the same electrical potential as the wire but have no current pass through them, so they are at no risk. Serendipitously, as his apprenticeship was ending, a friend gave him a ticket to a lecture  on electrochemistry by the eminent scientist Humphrey Davey, at the Royal Institution -- not a venue where the young humble-born Faraday would normally be welcomed. Which is why a transmission antenna on a radio tower (680,000 Hz) might stand 361 feet, while your 900 MHz cell phone is only about 3 inches.
In fact, the power required to connect all the doorbells in Europe is equivalent to the power output of two coal-fired power plants, all for a convenience we barely use.
Then he blasted the walls with high-voltage discharges from an electrostatic generator, and used an instrument called an electroscope to prove that no charge was present inside the actual room.
This reproducibility, amassed over hundreds of years, is what gives Singh the confidence to step into the coffin of terror and risk his own skin, performance after nail-biting performance.
Take a compass needle mounted on a wooden stand as a magnet and connect it to a battery with a wire. Underneath those glass bricks are LED video screens that, when illuminated, showcase videos of the faces of nearly 1000 Chicago residents, in random rotation, all smiling out at the world while a stream of water cascades over their visages. Apparently they only detonated the one segment of the old bridge to avoid further antagonizing local residents, who have been complaining about the constant dust and noise; plus, midnight is way past their bedtime. There wasn't a position available, Davy gently told the young man, but shortly thereafter he sacked his assistant for brawling and hired Faraday in his stead. Every time the electric current is switched on, you should see the compass needle give a small jerk. Seattle, on the other hand, is a city that knows how to conduct a demolition, as evidenced by this classic video clip of the 2000 blasting of the old Kingdome. Irritating though it was, I'd much rather have a 12-hour delay than have the navigation system short out mid-flight. Basically, a moving electric current gives rise to a magnetic field, which is detectable by the compass needle.
The most central technology that makes the Crown Fountain possible is the light-emitting diode (LED).
During this morning's session on energy efficiency, Shuji Nakamura of the University of California, Santa Barbara, outlined the current status of LED-based solid state lighting, and some of the existing and emerging applications for these ingenious little devices.
First,in 1821, he figured out that electricity could be converted into mechanical motion with the judicious application of a magnetic field (electromagnetic rotation); we have electric motors today because of this effect. In 1831, after a decade of slaving away in his lab, he demonstrated that a jiggling magnet could induce an electrical current in a wire, thereby converting the energy of a changing magnetic field into an electrical current.

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