erich orser said:
I was just impressed with the terrifying effect a live jacob's ladder had on Bela Lugosi when he worked for Ed Wood. Rather dangerous, but very cheap to manufacture!
Monty, did you see SRL when they were down here last time?
Actually, the most, er, effective looking device I've seen for zapping specific targets looks like the taser cannon at lod.org... which also reminds me of an idea a friend of mine had... he lived somewhere with frequent thunderstorms, and his annoying neighbor had a pickup truck he was very proud of. So my friend had the idea (but didn't actually do it) of setting up a small mirror on top of the truck, oriented at 45 degrees from vertical. He would then point a CO2 laser at the mirror, causing a vertical column of ionized air to go up into the sky-- essentially putting a very tall lightning rod on the truck and causing it to become a lightning magnet. Of course, there is also a horizonal line of ionized air back from the truck to the laser itself, which could be a liability.
Actually, on the lightning topic, a friend of mine just had his plumbing wrecked by a lightning strike a week or 2 ago... he grounded his solar panel to his water tank, and apparently the best path from his water tank to ground was through the water in the PVC piping in his house. Apparently, the PVC pipes all cracked in a peculiar helical pattern-- he believes this is because the lightning, because of some self-induction or something, travelled in a helix along the outer edge of the cylinder of water in the pipes and created a very localized overpressure causing this fracture. (I'm not sure I buy this; I suspect it's also possible that the water just all vaporized and the helix is some artifact of the way the pipe is constructed or some such.)
I've seen SRL do a show in some industrial/alley area in a seedy part of LA a few years ago; I'm not sure if that was the last time they were down here or not, though... I count on an enthusiast friend to keep track of their shows, but he moved to NYC and I haven't been paying attention since... Have you seen them?