* Original msg to: Ben.powell-at-dse.mpx-dot-com.au
 * Carbons sent to: usa-tesla-at-usa-dot-net

Quoting Ben Powell <ben.powell-at-dse.mpx-dot-com.au>:

> I've been reading about Tesla, and I saw that he claimed to be
> able to produce fireballs/ball lightening at will. Ball 
> lightening interests me greatly, and I was wondering if anyone 
> on this group has succeeded in creating it at all. If you have, 
> could you please tell me what sort of setup you would be 
> dealing with to generate ball lightening. Thanks.

On Tue, 5 Sep 1995 John Bell wrote....

 > I'm looking for some information on ball lightning production. 

Malcolm Watts replied:

 MW> Now that's a subject that I've always been interested in!!! 

Yes, this has been done by Tesla, and by Kenneth L. Corum and James
F. Corum, who were the first people to my knowledge to accurately 
decipher Tesla's sometimes crypic notes and reproduce Tesla's orignal 
experimental method. Corum & Corum published in the Tesla Coil Builders
Association publication "NEWS" Volume 8, #3--July, August, September--
1989, "Tesla's Production of Electric Fireballs", pp 13-18. This article
includes four B&W photos, one page of apparatus schematics, and an 
extensive bibliography. It is available as a back issue from the TCBA. 

In addition Corum and Corum published a more lengthy paper in 1988 titled:
FIRE BALLS - A Collection of Laboratory Experiment Photographs; which
consists of text plus 36 color photographs and commentary, 50 pp total
for $55.00 and available from: Corum & Assoc. Inc., 8551 State Route 534
Windsor, OH 44099.

Yet another paper on the subject was presented by the Corum brothers at 
the 1990 Tesla Symposium at Colorado Springs, Colorado. The paper titled 
"Fire Balls, Fractals, and Colorado Springs: A Rediscovery of Tesla's RF 
Techniques" may be found in: PROCEEDINGS of the 1990 INTERNATIONAL TESLA
SYMPOSIUM, 1991, International Tesla Society, edited by Steven R. Elswick,
Asst. Editors Gary Peterson, Jason Wentzell; ISBN 1-9620394-2-X

Tesla, of course, was the first person that I am aware of to produce 
electrical fire balls in the laboratory. Tesla shows dozens of diagrams
and photographs of apparatus capable of producing fireballs in the 
COLORADO SPRINGS NOTES (or CSN). See the notes and diagrams on pp 
114-115, 174, 176, 177, text on pp 368-370, etc... 

The CSN is liberally sprinkled with circuits and techniques for fire
ball production; the problem being that Tesla does not show a wiring 
diagram and say "This circuit produces fireballs." The circuits he 
used are diagramed in the course of the notes, but the discussion of 
fireballs appears in different sections with no clear connection to a 
particular circuit schematic. The key to understanding the versitility 
of these circuits is in realizing that the main coils were large and 
difficult to move. However, by simply moving the base lead wires around 
and adjusting the dischargers and tank circuit tune, it was easy to fire 
a Magnifier configuration one minute, and a fire ball machine the next.
(well a few minutes anyway!)

By Nikola Tesla... Hardcover, 440pp, Published by NOLIT, Beograd,
Yugoslavia, 1978. Prefaced and annotated by Aleksandar Marincic, 
Assoc. Prof. of EE Beograd Univ. and advisor to the Nikola Tesla 
Museum, Yugoslavia. 

BTW, the fireball circuit basically consists of two secondary coils
with substantially different frequencies (say 67 kHz & 156 kHz) 
coupled to the same tank circuit. The Corums used a primary coil 
shaped like an oval racetrack (or a modern football stadium) with 
the two secondary coils positioned inside. Points are generally 
added to the coil dischargers to force the two coils to strike one 
another. Carbon vapor assists in the production of a stable plasma 
sphere, so the discharger points are doped with carbonaceous material.

Richard Quick
Steve Roys to Ed Sonderman:

> I am also interested in ball lightning, and would be very keen to find 
> this TCBA reference that you were speaking of.

Vol 8#3 is the issue that has the article by the Corum's (titled "Tesla's 
Production of Electric Fireballs").   In it they describe how you can use 
a two coil system to create electric fireballs.  The article is (imho) 
well-written and they give a list of references if you want to find out 

The 1989/1990 double issue of the Tesla Memorial Society's "The 
Tesla Journal" also has an article by the Corums titled "High Voltage 
RF Ball Lightning Experiements and Electro-Chemical Fractal Clusters". 
 In it they postulate a possible mechanism for natural ball lightning.  
They also describe  their single coil setup (24" x 84" secondary, 2.4MV 
-at- 66kHz output) they used to generate their fireballs.  An extensive list 
of references is also included in this article.

The Corums' are (to the best of my knowledge) the most "scholarly" 
and well-respected investigators of Tesla technology, and I would think 
that anything from them would be well worth your time and effort to 
obtain if you're seriously interested in trying to understand what's 
going on.  A lot of their articles are technical, but not to the point that 
you need a PhD in physics to understand what they're saying.

Steven Roys 

Oh yeah, to close on this subject, Tesla mentioned fireball production
in his patent record:

Quoting Phil Mason:

 PM> I have got a book from around the turn of the century called
 PM> 'Electricity in the service of man.' It is a translation of  
 PM> a German text. Reading Ed's email about the high voltage     
 PM> applied over a bath of brine, in an attempt to produce ball  
 PM> lightning, reminded me of an illustration in this book. It   
 PM> is apparently possible to produce a glowing plasma-like ball 
 PM> over the water and around the electrode, when connected to a 
 PM> very large battery (of 100 cells) - I seem to remember the   
 PM> emphasis being on current as opposed to voltage. Anyway, I   
 PM> shall dig out the book this weekend and let you know.

OK, I have seen video tape and apparatus photos (including the
fireballs) recorded by Robert Golka a few years back. It concurs
with the information you posted above. Robert Golka used a very
high current, low voltage, step-down transformer with a pulse
action switch (no capacitors, coils, etc.. just a heavy step-down
xfmr and switching network). Golka placed aluminum plates near
the surface of the water tank, and using a hand-held electrode
fitted with what looked like an arc welding rod, switched the
current into the aluminum plate. Fireballs jumped out of the
water and floated across the tank. Problem:

I was in a group who discussed these experimental results at
length after we viewed the experiment documentation. We came to a
conclusion based on clearly presented evidence that while Golka
had indeed produced "fireballs" this was not a case of laboratory
production of "ball lightning". There is a difference.

We examined photos of the damage done to the aluminum plate and
the high current electrode. We also examined photos of small
spherical residue left when Golka's fireballs extinguished.
We came to the conclusion that Golka's fireballs consisted of
burning metal particles and metal plasma. The fireballs left a
spherical bead of dross that is typical of welding residue.

This experiment documents a completely different set of
conditions than those that were noted by Tesla in the Colorado
Springs Notes, and again by Kenneth and James Corum in their work
done reproducing Tesla's fireballs. Tesla's patent record also
contains an ominous warning concerning operation of his large
Magnifier circuits. I refer you to Tesla's Patent No. 1,119,732 
patented 12/1/1914, lines 120 - 154:

    The adjustments should be made with particular care when the
    transmitter is one of great power, not only on account of 
    economy, but also in order to avoid danger. I have shown that
    it is practicable to produce in a resonating circuit E A B B'
    D immense electrical activities, measured by tens and even 
    hundreds of thousands of horse-power, and in such a case, if
    the points of maximum pressure should be shifted below the 
    terminal D, along coil B, a ball of fire might break out and
    destroy the support F or anything else in the way. For the
    better appreciation of the nature of this danger it should be 
    stated, that the destructive action may take place with in-
    conceivable violence. This will cease to be surprising when 
    it is borne in mind, that the entire energy accumulated in 
    the excited circuit, instead of requiring, as under normal
    working conditions one quarter of the period or more for its
    transformation from static to kinetic form, may spend itself
    in an incomparably smaller interval of time, at a rate of 
    many millions of horse-power. The accident is apt to occur 
    when, the transmitter circuit being strongly excited, the
    impressed oscillations upon it are caused, in any manner   
    more or less sudden, to be more rapid than the free oscil-
    lations. It is therefore advisable to begin the adjustments
    with feeble and somewhat slower impressed oscillations, 
    strengthening and quickening them gradually, until the ap-
    paratus has been brought under perfect control.

"E" above refers to the dedicated RF ground. "A" refers to the
grounded secondary coil. "B" refers to the extra coil. "B'"
refers to an RF transmission line linking the top of the extra
coil to the air terminal. "D" is a very large toriod terminal.
"F" is a support tower over 100 feet high for mounting the
apparatus and capped with air terminal "D". 

To take a bit of liberty with Tesla's rather archaic prose, he is
talking about a three coil system with a large discharger. The
primary and secondary coils are acting as a narrow band signal
generator, and this signal is fed by RF transmission line into
the base of the extra coil, which is mounted in this case above
the primary/secondary, directly below the toriod terminal. The
extra coil is electrically operating as a normal Tesla secondary
would be in a 1/4 wave system; though instead of being induct-
ively coupled to the primary, the extra coil is base fed with RF

His first statement regarding tens, even hundreds, of thousands
of horse-power is a measure of the energy stored and processed
over a 1/4 wave cycle (actually it is slightly longer in the
quoted patent) in the tuned and resonating coil system from the
ground to the air terminal. He next refers to a shift in nodal
points in the circuit, from the top of the discharge terminal,
down to a section of the extra coil. With this shift of nodal
points, he notes the grave possiblities of fireball production.
He then notes that with the shift in nodal points the entire
system frequency has been compromised, and that instead of an
orderly processing of the system energy over a 1/4 wavelength (or
more) period of time, resonance collapses and the system energy
is released nearly instantly; at a rate that Tesla notes is many
millions of horse-power.

Tesla tells us this accident is likely to occur in a large
Magnifier coil system where the coils are fully powered, but not
perfectly in tune. He notes that it is the introduction of a
higher frequency signal into the circuit which causes the nodal
point to shift downwards, and advises a slow power up with a low
frequency, gradually increasing both power and frequency, until
the system is brought into perfect tune.

This little warning by Tesla is also in line with some of the
circuits he experimented with at Colorado Springs, and his notes
on fireballs there contain the same circuit elements as the
patent quoted above: two or more coils in the circuit (in
addition to the primary/tank circuit); sudden shift in the
resonate frequency of the system, or two coils of different
resonate frequency striking one another; resulting in a very
sudden release (near instantaneous) of the energy from what had
been a tuned and excited resonant circuit.

Richard Quick

... If all else fails... Throw another megavolt across it!
___ Blue Wave/QWK v2.12