How to do a Cool Trick With a Plasma Ball

Written by matthew e. johnson
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The plasma ball, also commonly referred to as a plasma globe, is a fascinating novelty item. It works by conducting electricity from a central electrode through gases such as argon, neon and nitrogen. Many of us have seen one and touched it to see the bolts of electricity attract to our fingers. There are several cool tricks you can do with a plasma ball.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Plasma ball
  • Quarter
  • Business card
  • Paperclip

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  1. 1

    Turn on your plasma globe.

  2. 2

    Place the quarter on the top of the globe.

  3. 3

    Place the business card on top of the quarter.

  4. 4

    Bend the outside end of the paperclip out so it forms a 90 degree angle to the rest of the paperclip.

  5. 5

    Hold the paperclip approximately one-eighth to one-fourth of an inch above the area of the business card that is covering the quarter. If this is done right, you should see a small bolt of electricity arc from the quarter to the paperclip. This will begin to burn a small hole in the business card.

Tips and warnings

  • Another quick and easy trick involves placing a compact fluorescent bulb near the plasma globe. The light bulb will begin to glow because the mercury gas in the bulb is being stimulated by the pulsating electric field generated around the glass globe of the plasma ball.
  • Do not repeat this experiment too often or you risk doing damage to the plasma globe. It can be a potential fire hazard.

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