Rainy Sunday: Jacob’s Ladder

One of  the greatest work of English literature begins by recalling two children on a rainy Sunday afternoon

The Sun did not shine,
It was too wet to play,
So we sat in the house
All that cold cold wet day.

I sat there with Sally.
We sat there we two.
And I said, “How I wish
We had something to do!”

Too wet to go out.
Too cold to play ball.
So we sat in the house.
We did nothing at all.

If only they had had a 5000 V transformer to play with. They could have easily made a Jacob’s ladder device and had fun for hours. This is the device seen in the background of a thousand stereotypical depictions of mad scientists in which a spark rises between two electrodes, getting longer and longer until eventually it snaps back to the bottom and begins rising again. Making one of these in my loft today I really felt I was experiencing the present reality of past depictions of the future of mad science.

My very own Jacob's ladder.

My very own Jacob's ladder. This exposure shows several different sparks as the discharge climbed up the two electrodes. Click for larger version.

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