Illustration of Gas-discharge lamp

1705,1894 Gas-discharge lamp

The book of science

Tom Sharp

Francis Hauksbee, Nikola Tesla physics Illustration of Gas-discharge lamp

Gas-discharge lamp

Francis Hauksbee knew the empty space in a thermometer could glow when it was handled, so he put a little mercury in a glass globe, pumped out some of its air, rubbed and touched the globe, and found it emitted a light bright enough to read by.

Plasma lamp

In 1894, Nikola Tesla invented a lamp without an internal electrode. He subjected an evacuated glass tube to a high-frequency alternating current, starting an avalanche of electrons causing excited atoms to emit photons.

Did he

Did Tesla know what he was doing? Does it matter? Did he know what he had found? Did he know he didn’t need high voltage; he didn’t need alternating current? Obviously he knew about the light, but three years later Thomson discovered electrons and Townsend discovered electron avalanches.

Gas discharges

Saint Elmo’s fire, mercury gas lit by static, Geissler and Crookes tubes, Geiger counters, fluorescent lamps, neon, metal halide, mercury vapor, deuterium arc, xenon arc, sodium, and plasma lamps.

In 1705, Francis Hauksbee was Isaac Newton’s lab assistant while Newton was president of the Royal Society. For this experiment, Hauksbee used the glass globe of his modified version of Otto von Guericke’s electrostatic generator. Most discoveries require curiosity, intelligence, and the availability of equipment and materials.

See also in The book of science:

Readings in wikipedia: