Tesla – Lecture at Columbia University

In operating devices on the above plan I have observed curious phenomena of impedance which are of interest. For instance if a thick copper bar be bent, as indicated in Fig. 32 / 128, and shunted by ordinary incandescent lamps, then, by passing the discharge between the knobs, the lamps may be brought to incandescence although they are short-circuited. When a large induction coil is employed it is easy to obtain nodes on the bar, which are rendered evident by the different degree of brilliancy of the lamps, as shown roughly in Fig. 32 / 128. The nodes are never clearly defined, but they are simply maxima and minima of potentials along the bar. This is probably due to the irregularity of the arc between the knobs. In general when the above-described plan of conversion from high to low tension is used, the behavior of the disruptive discharge may be closely studied. The nodes may also be investigated by means of an ordinary Cardew voltmeter which should be well insulated. Geissler tubes may also be lighted across the points of the bent bar; in this case, of course, it is better to employ smaller capacities. I have found it practicable to light up in this manner a lamp, and even a Geissler tube, shunted by a short, heavy block of metal, and this result seems at first very curious. In fact, the thicker the copper bar in Fig. 32 / 128; the better it is for the success of the experiments, as they appear more striking. When lamps with long slender filaments are used it will be often noted that the filaments are from time to time violently vibrated, the vibration being smallest at the nodal points. This vibration seems to be due to an electrostatic action between the filament and the glass of the bulb.
In some of the above experiments it is preferable to use special lamps having a straight filament as shown in Fig. 33. When such a lamp is used a still more curious phenomenon than those described may be observed. The lamp may be placed across the copper bar and lighted, and by using somewhat larger capacities, or, in other words, smaller frequencies or smaller impulsive impedances, the filament may be brought to any desired degree of incandescence. But when the impedance is increased, a point is reached when comparatively little current passes through the carbon, and most of it through the rarefied gas; or perhaps it may be more correct to state that the current divides nearly evenly through both, its spite of the enormous difference in the resistance, and this would be true unless the Las and the filament behave differently. It is then noted that the whole bulb is brilliantly illuminated, and the ends of the leading-in wires become incandescent and often throw off sparks in consequence of the violent bombardment, but the carbon filament remains dark. This is illustrated in Fig. 33. Instead of the filament a single wire extending through the whole bulb may be used, and in this case the phenomenon would seen to be still more interesting.
From the above experiment it will be evident, that when ordinary lamps are operated by the converted currents, those should be preferably taken in which the platinum wires are far apart, and the frequencies used should not be too great, else the discharge will occur at the ends of the filament or in the base of the lamp between the leading-in wires, and the lamp might then be damaged.