How to Make the Electric Pickle Experiment

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A long-desired experiment in many Intro-to-Lighting lectures, the famed Electric Pickle Experiment is something that many older lighting teachers have shown to their classes over the years.  Ever seen this done?

Also, this:

And one more, for posterity — what’s hilarious at the end of this video is the comment “I wonder what other fruits will glow?” followed by the hot dog…

The Electric Pickle is an interesting experiment that literally burns out the idea of a non-ohmic resistor.  Think light emitting diode — dependent on voltage in order to work.  What happens in the Electric Pickle Experiment is that once a voltage (120V) is placed across the pickle, there are Sodium anodes (Na+, electron expelling) and Chloride cathodes (Cl-, electron grabbing) that are excited to outside orbital levels of the atom.  Just like a sodium vapor lamp, once the electric field charges the pickle, sodium atoms let go of an electron, causing a photon to be released once the haul tail back to lower energy levels in the atom.  The result?  Pickle light!

HERE’S A BOLD TYPE WARNING:  120V to GROUND CAN KILL YOU DEADER THAN WHITNEY HOUSTON.  IT’S SERIOUS.  YOU PERFORM THESE STEPS AT YOUR OWN RISK, NONE OF THIS IS MY FAULT IF YOU SCREW UP.  YOUR ERRORS IN THIS EXPERIMENT CAN CAUSE YOU DEATH OR SERIOUS BODILY HARM, AND EVEN HARM OR DEATH TO THOSE AROUND YOU.

SAFETY STUFF FIRST:

  • The most salty pickles are the ones that work the beat for this experiment.
  • MAKE SURE that you’re working with some kind of circuit-breaking device in line, like a 15A power strip or a custom-built breaker system in line for this experiment.
  • KEEP THE STUDENTS and OTHER OBSERVERS AWAY FROM THE EQUIPMENT!!!!!!!!!  If possible, get some kind of a blast shield or Plexiglas panel between the pickle and the observers.
  • Get some air to the place you’ll be doing the Electric Pickle Experiment, this thing stinks like none other, seriously.
  • REFRAIN from EATING THE COOKED PICKLE!  It tastes like roasted refried shit!

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • SALTY PICKLES
  • two (2) large nails
  • some kind of circuit breaking device in line with your “pickle circuit”
  • a length (let’s say 3 feet for posterity) of 12 gauge, INSULATED 2-conductor lamp cable or a white insulated and black insulated 12 gauge lead
  • obviously, a male Edison plug (which is a redundant statement, five extra credit points for WHY)
  • a glass container that is JUST larger than the pickles you’re using
  • two 20A alligator clamps WITH RUBBER SAFETY SHIELDS on them

HOW TO:

  1. install your lamp cable or single lead runs into the Edison plug
  2. install the alligator clamps to the other ends of the lamp cable or single leads — ONE CLAMP PER LEAD!
  3. insert a nail into either side of the pickle
  4. place the pickle onto the glass jar, allowing the nails to rest on the glass jar, suspending the pickle
    NOTE:  MAKE SURE THE NAILS AREN’T TOUCHING INSIDE THE PICKLE, but that they are SOLIDLY MOUNTED in the pickle
  5. plug your circuit breaking device into the power source with the DEVICE IN THE OFF POSITION
  6. attach the alligator clamps to the nails, one per nail, to complete the circuit once the pickle is plugged in
  7. MAKE SURE NO ONE IS TOUCHING ANY OF THE EQUIPMENT!!!
  8. CHECK AGAIN to MAKE SURE NO ONE IS IN ANY KIND OF CONTACT WITH THE EQUIPMENT!
  9. Have someone standing by at the light switch in the room
  10. Plug in the pickle in to the power, then switch the breaker ON
  11. shut off the room lights, observe the pickle light!
  12. AS SOON AS THE PICKLE STOPS GLOWING, KILL THE POWER TO THE PICKLE!

Lots of care and caution need to go into this experiment.  Why?  Because I said so, and because this is putting 120V, 15-20A through a PICKLE.  It’s DANGEROUS!

Items of Note:

  • You can use a dimmer or rheostat to achieve this experiment successfully, too — just make sure you kill the power when the pickle quits doing its light bulb trick.
  • Make SURE you have some air to your room, this is a stinky experiment!
  • Once you have done the experiment, make sure that you either remove the “pickle probe” from student pervue for safety.  You never know, even in University settings.  Hide that thing.
  • DON’T EAT THE PICKLE!
  • If the pickle weren’t already green, you’d be seeing light in the 588-590nm wavelength range.  Crazy, huh?

Now BE CAREFUL!

PickleOLED

BONUS NERDERY:  Here’s Vladimir Bulovic to tell the world about how OLEDs and the glowing pickle have SO many things in common!

Thanks to PopSci and S3 for the pickle-images!

Last Week Recap – Roxy and I Escape Death, Shelby Stage Collapse, and Shoddy Rigging

Oh, friends and neighbors, it’s been a crazy last week here on JimOnLight!

Just to catch you up:  I started a new job last week, Laura and Roxy and I have settled into our new apartment, and we’re 15 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean.  That alone is going to provide us some serious peace and tranquility, at least until Hurricane Season!  Hopefully the Hurricane Center will add my suggestions to the naming conventions list…  Hurricane Ru Paul should be making his or her way up the coast any day now!

Let’s recap on last week’s posts – we found out that L&N Productions in North Carolina had some photo evidence on their website of their crappy rigging that nearly took out some of the performers from the band The Afters, followed by some unbelievable images of the stage collapse L&N was involved in…  the promoter called it “weather related,” but as John Huntington from the awesome blog Control Geek noted, that’s a bunch of BS.  And, AND, this weekend I missed my death by about 15 seconds, as a couple of thugs who stole a car wiped out on our street (which is a 25 mph zone) going about 70.  Check them all out below!

Last week’s top posts:

ANOTHER STRUCTURE FALLS:  Roof Made from Construction Genie Towers Falls in North Carolina

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos

 

MORE Contradiction in the Shelby, North Carolina Stage Collapse:  Weather, Equipment, NEGLIGENCE

from WCNC Charlotte - Shelby stage collapse photos

from WCNC Charlotte – Shelby stage collapse photos

And, from the weekend:

If Roxy Had Pooped 15 Seconds Later, We’d Both Be Dead Now

Crashed Mustang

Crashed Mustang

Stay tuned, as always — we’re going to have a lot more great stuff this week on JimOnLight!  Thanks for reading!

Like JimOnLight On Facebook, Go Straight to Lighting Heaven

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Okay, maybe there IS no lighting heaven…  but do you like us on Facebook?  The JimOnLight Facebook page has almost a thousand likes, with stories, hilarious photos, and other entertaining stuff every day!  What’s not to like?  My ugly mug?  If it makes you feel any better, I do my damnedest to keep my ugly mug as far away from the site as possible.  I’m doing humankind a service!

What do you have to lose?  Like JimOnLight on Facebook!  Tell your friends!  Click the button below!

jimonlight-on-facebook copy

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Making Light Magic – Long-Exposure 3D Light Painting with an iPad

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Fox sent me this amazing “making of” video of some cool long-exposure light painting, made with an iPad!  Check this out:

Making Future Magic: iPad light painting from mcgarrybowen uk on Vimeo.

From the video:

This film explores playful uses for the increasingly ubiquitous ‘glowing rectangles’ that inhabit the world.

We use photographic and animation techniques that were developed to draw moving 3-dimensional typography and objects with an iPad. In dark environments, we play movies on the surface of the iPad that extrude 3-d light forms as they move through the exposure. Multiple exposures with slightly different movies make up the stop-frame animation.

We’ve collected some of the best images from the project and made a book of them you can buy: bit.ly/mfmbook

Read more at the Dentsu London blog:
dentsulondon.com/blog/2010/09/14/light-painting/
and at the BERG blog:
berglondon.com/blog/2010/09/14/magic-ipad-light-painting/

An excerpt from the McGarryBowen blog, the people working with BERG London on the project:

We’ve been making two films with BERG over the summer.  This is the first.

It’s an exciting project for us, as it’s the first time we’ve had a proper chance to explore some of the themes and possibilities behind Making Future Magic, with the benefit of the superbrains and hands of some new creative partners Timo ArnallJack Schulze and the rest of the BERG team.

The brief and discussions we had in the process of making these films were about some of the aims behind the Making Future Magic strategy – all of which are about expanding the value of the commercial communications we make by approaching things with a particular set of priorities:

To make creative work that is contributory and sensible to its culture and environment; to be exploratory and sensitive with regard to materials and media; to wonder what magical visions (as opposed to the familiar dystopias) of the future of media might look like.

Wicked!

campbell-magic-berg-dentsu-london-berg-light-painting-ipad

Good Morning Inspiration: The Byegone Music Video from Volcano Choir, A Fluorescent Tube’s Wet Dream

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This video has been making its way all over the internet and Twitter for the last few days — well worth it, I must say!

Published on Jul 25, 2013

Volcano Choir ‘Repave’ out September 3, 2013 on Jagjaguwar
iTunes http://smarturl.it/volcanochoir_itunes
Amazon http://smarturl.it/volcanochoir
SCD http://smarturl.it/volcanochoir_scd
Indies: http://smarturl.it/volcanochoir_indies

Director: Michinori Saigo
Director of Photography: Toshihiko Kizu

Volcano Choir
Artist Page http://jagjaguwar.com/artist.php?name…
Website http://volcanochoir.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/volcanochoir
Twitter https://twitter.com/volcanochoir
Instagram http://instagram.com/volcanochoir

Volcano Choir – “Byegone” from ‘Repave’ out September 3, 2013 on Jagjaguwar

I have to say — for a fluorescent tube, this is like a strawberry watching a strawberry pie be made!  Something to aspire to, even though I get the feeling those are LED tubes…

Good Morning, everyone!

Good Morning Inspiration: Rocking Some Romantics from 1983

romantics-talking-in-your-sleep

Sometimes when you wake up early, you just need a boost from some vintage 1983 Romantics, from the album In Heat.  For all of you who love this like I do, here’s an internet HIGH FIVE!

internet-high-five

“I hear… the secrets that you keep… when you’re talkin’ in your sleep…”

Crank it up loud, people.  YOU KNOW IN YOUR HEART that the entire office needs a burst of 1980’s awesomesauce!

I hope this starts your day off with an earworm that only WHEELS ON THE BUS can get rid of!  Happy Tuesday!

Last Week’s Posts Catch-Up

It’s another great week here in JimOnLight Land — pretty soon Laura and I will be moving down to start a great new job, things are falling back into place, and karma is having its way with someone who really deserves it this morning!  Ah, how the Universe takes care of itself.  I LOVE IT!

I wanted to just catch up on last week’s short post string — now that I’m back driving the bus again and not looking for work 14 hours a day, we’re gonna have a blast!

LAST WEEK on JimOnLight:

vintage-power-light-tablelamp-5

Vintage Power and Light:
The Coolest Thing to Happen to Tungsten Since Edison!

Meet Lowell and York Fowler’s art and hobby business that centers around taking vintage electrical and power equipment and turning it into beautiful, sexy, and interesting incandescent works of light and beauty!  It’s my pleasure to tell the world about the venture, hopefully one of these days I can commission my OWN bit of Vintage Power and Light!


Also, a must-read for anyone in the Entertainment Business:

yelling-myself-out-of-a-job

Do You Scream at Stagehands?  STOP IT!

I got an interesting email from a stagehand in Colorado who’s sick and tired of all of the tour personnel screaming at the local crew when they come through.  What kind of crap is THAT?!  Are YOU a screamer?  Knock that shit off!  Click on the image to read the article — this has to STOP!  You’re ruining the friendliness and compassion for the rest of us who come through after you!


 Last but not least — one of the fathers of Modern Lighting had a birthday last week:

theatre-design-george-izenour

Happy Birthday, George C. Izenour!

If you don’t know who George Izenour is, it’s time for you to get your act together and learn about one of our industry’s most prolific inventors!  His 101st birthday was last week — even though he’s no longer with us, go check out some of the things he’s done for our beloved industry!

JOL Sunday Flickr #19

JOL-Sunday-Flickr

Happy Sunday, everybody!

I hope that today’s installment of photos from the JimOnLight Flickr Group meets your approval as you’re sipping on some coffee surrounded by your loved ones…  or pets…  or absolutely by yourself if that’s what you’ve been dealt today.  I always loved sitting on my 21st story balcony on Sunday mornings in Oklahoma City when I lived there, just staring off in the middle distance at the wonderment that comes from living 252 feet above the street.

Here’s today’s collection of awesome photos by some awesome photographers.  Check them out, and give their respective pages some traffic!  Have an awesome morning, everyone!  AWESOME!

Runway to Mars

Lights in Alingsås #1

Sunset Showoff.

philippines   (  explore  )

Lights

Light in The Subway - Canyoneering in Zion National Park

Lighting

Paris Exposition: night view, Paris, France, 1900

Light & Shadow

Lights

in the heat of the fired wing we rise again...

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Venice

Paris

Sunset 3  -  10.16.11