January 2017 11
Build Your Own Tesla
No, sorry, we’re not talking about the car. Admit it, though. You’ve always
wanted a Tesla coil, right? You’d love to impress your friends with that spray
of purple discharge sparks and plasma streamers. Well, if you’re willing to fork
over $219 for something that’s otherwise useless, you can pick up a tiny Tesla
Musical Tesla Coil Kit from one Tesla ( onetesla.com), available in 110V or
The completed kit shoots sparks up to four inches long, and a USB
interruptor allows control of the coil from a laptop. As if that’s not enough,
you can also make the sparks react to music you pipe in from MIDI files.
Still not impressed? Then check out the company’s full-size dual resonant
solid-state musical Tesla coil ($399.99) which generates sparks up to two feet
In either case, it is
recommended that you
also buy a set of spare
replacement parts (including
transistors [IGBTs]), as they
tend to go kaput after a
while. Okay, it sounds like a
lot of money for a one-trick
pony. But it’s a lot cheaper
than the car. ▲ The one Tesla MIDI controlled DRSSTC.
R.I.P. Ali Javan
MIT Professor Emeritus, Ali Javan, the institute’s first Francis Wright David Professor of Physics, has died at
the age of 89. A trailblazer in the fields of
laser technology and quantum electronics,
he was primarily known as the inventor of
the first gas laser. Javan was born in Tehran,
Iran in 1926, and came to the United States
in 1949, where he studied and worked
at Columbia University with Nobel prize-winning physicist, Charles H. Townes.
Having neither a bachelor’s nor a master’s
degree, Javan earned his Ph.D. in physics at
Columbia in 1954, with Townes serving as
his thesis advisor.
While at Columbia, Javan also studied
music, continuing a lifelong passion for the
arts that he often connected to his groundbreaking scientific work. “Physics
and music — you find the same spirit in both of them,” he wrote. “It just
manifests itself in different directions. There’s something immensely beautiful
about physics, even though it’s very difficult. Take the atom — a single atom is
absolutely gorgeous. Ask anybody in physics.”
In 1993, Javan was presented the Albert Einstein World Medal of Science
in recognition for his more than 30 years of research into the physics of lasers.
In 2006, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He died in
Los Angeles, CA on September 12, 2016 of natural causes. ▲
Prof. Ali Javan
Inventor of the gas laser.
INDUSTRY and the PROFESSION