The Enigma Machine — Part 4
insulated wire-cutters I was holding to a
metal plate. This is very different from high
frequency or RF skin effects. The operating
frequency was nowhere near high enough
to create RF skin effects. I know this
because I have inadvertently allowed current to flow in several occasions, giving me
a very painful shock. As we saw last month,
the charge-transfer mechanism is different.
How can there be a spark without
current, though? Isn't a spark electricity?
Actually, it is not. When you see a spark, you
are seeing ionized air (mostly nitrogen and
oxygen). It typically has a blue hue, depending on the
intensity of the charge. (Lightning looks white because
there is so much current that the air is significantly heated.)
Electron transfer in a vacuum is invisible. If you've ever
looked at an operating vacuum tube, you know that there
is nothing to see other than the glow of the filament.
Sparks occur whenever there is enough energy to ionize
the atoms in the air.
Figure 3. The basic setup for corona discharge photography.
Refer to Figure 4 to see the physical layout.
increased, since the wires were never warm when the power
was off. I think my skin was heating up, just like the leaf.
Another aspect of corona discharge is that material
from the charged object can actually be removed and redeposited. Figure 7 shows the plastic container after a few
minutes of corona discharge with the silver dollar. You can
see that the deposits exactly match the corona discharge
that is illustrated in Figure 5. Most of this residue (which is,
presumably, silver) is easily wiped off, but some seems to
be embedded into the plastic.
A more general ionization — called a corona discharge
— also occurs for the same reason. However, a corona
discharge is not a simple point-to-point ionization. It occurs
over many points or even a whole area. Visually, it can be
quite striking. Figure 3 shows the basic setup for performing the corona discharge experiments. Figure 4 is what the
experiment looks like in normal light. If you look closely,
you can see the force wire enter from the left. The tip of an
alligator clip, which goes to the lead bar, is barely seen at
the top. Figure 5 is what the corona discharge of the silver
dollar looks like in a darkened room. Since it's hard to
photograph without light, a 16 second time exposure was
used. This blurs the discharge somewhat. The eye sees
tiny tendrils of glowing blue that dance about.
You don't have to use metal to create the corona discharge. Anything that is either an electrical or force "conduc-tor" will work. I used an ordinary leaf for Figure 6. Initially, I
was going to scrap that photograph because of the burn-through in the middle of the leaf (that bright white area in the
middle) that washes out the corona. However, I realized that
this also shows something important. There is enough electrical charge to burn and char organic tissue. In other words,
polar conductivity (see previous articles) has the capability
to transfer real and significant power without any measurable electrical current or its associated magnetic field.
I should probably mention that I have unintentionally
found myself holding a well-insulated wire with a corona
discharge that traveled into my hand. There was no sensation of electrical shock. It felt more like touching spider
webs. On one occasion when this happened, I squeezed
the wire between my thumb and forefinger and the wire felt
warm. I don't think the actual wire temperature had
Kirlian Photography is quite different from the pictures
presented here. Their setup places photographic paper or
film in close contact with the object, as shown in Figure 8.
If the metal plate is large enough, no additional "conduc-tive mass" may be needed. Sometimes, they use a system
ground that has the potential to allow real current to flow.
For large objects (like a person's finger), they place the
photographic film (with or without the glass ) on top of the
metal plate and have the person touch that. The person
Figure 4. The corona discharge photographs are taken through a
water filled, thin, plastic container. The power goes in from the left,
up through a hole in the wood, and touches the bottom of the coin.
The tip of the alligator clip is just visible at the top center.
It connects the water to a lead mass.