Exploding copper wire creates 200-foot plasma arc

Once again, I don't know where this kind of thing was when I was in school, but students at University of Canterbury in New Zealand have built themselves a sort of horizontal, man-made lightning cannon. Oh, did I say cannon? I meant, uh, "research project." Yeah.

What you're looking at here is a 200-foot-long, hair-thin copper wire with so much electrical voltage running through it that it explodes. For about a thousandth of a second, the exploding wire unleashes a charged particle plasma, which is the bright white light that you see. Using a wire like this turns out to be a relatively easy way to create large amounts of plasma, and by coiling and knotting the wire, the Kiwis hope to try and generate some ball lightning, which sounds safe.


This seriously seems like something that came straight out of a video game, right? It's practically a plasma cannon. You'd wire it up kinda like a Taser, so you'd have a gun that would fire a little dart trailing a copper wire, and then when it hit you'd throw the switch and zZzZPOW. Target vaporized. BWAHAHAHA!

Or at least, that's how it's working in my imagination. Reality just needs to catch up.

University of Canterbury, via Inside Science

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