LAWRENCE LAWRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY LAWRENCE LAWRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Plasma sphere. Man's nose touching a plasma sphere and attracting streamers of light. The metal sphere at the centre of the globe has a very high electrical voltage applied to it. This causes a large potential difference between the sphere and the glass wall. The globe contains gas at low pressure. Static discharges across the gas cause the atoms in the gas to lose their electrons, turning the gas into a plasma. When the nuclei and the electrons recombine they emit the light seen here. Touching the outside of the glass globe concentrates the static charge on the glass, intensifying the ionising field and causing the streamers of light.
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