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Re: [TCML] Not coil related, but a HV question

Hi Paul,

Unlike some of the other responses I think there is a lot of experimental
terrain in your activities. Here are my two cents about a possible
direction to explore:

An overlooked aspect here, maybe even misunderstood is the density
gradation of the atmosphere. One would expect that the density distribution
would go from the densest atmosphere at the surface of the planet and
gradually thinning in relation to elevation, but it isn't correct.

From the troposphere (closest to surface) it starts to thin with elevation
but then pauses and begins a reversal of atmospheric density in the
stratosphere where it begins to thicken with elevation, pausing, then
reversing yet again the density distribution in the mesosphere. The layers
of the atmosphere continue this way all through to empty space, reversing
back and forth in density distribution.

We also know that the electric field increases with altitude, but we only
know this to be true for the troposphere- the tallest radio antenna in the
world is only a little more than 2000 feet- the troposphere extends another
six miles above that. An interesting question would be if the electric
field reverses polarity as the density gradation of the atmospheric layers

A mylar balloon could double as a faraday cage and you could use a field
meter with your ground charge probe inside the balloon and the other
attacked to the exterior metallic side of the mylar.balloon. Charge would
accumulate as the balloon rose through the thinning troposphere, but what
happens to this charge as the air begins to thicken again in the

Could the surface of the conductive balloon be smooth enough as to start
glow blueish as it struggles to rid itself of excess charge?

And then what happens as this gradient reverses yet again in the
mesosphere? Could be very interesting.



On Mon, Apr 11, 2016 at 1:27 PM, Paul B. Thompson <mrapol@xxxxxxxxxxxx>

> Recently I've gotten involved with a group of high altitude balloon
> hobbyists. We're always looking for interesting experiments to try in the
> stratosphere, and I thought of one with HV application. I'd like to run it
> by everyone here as a thought-experiment first.
> Air is a dielectric. Not a great one, but a sufficient air gap between two
> electrodes prevents arcing. (I may not be expressing this the best way, but
> you all know what I mean.) If you lower the air pressure greatly, would a
> high voltage spark leap across the same distance? I imagine something like
> a charged flash capacitor being lofted in a balloon. The poles of the cap
> are connected to electrodes separated by a gap sufficient to prevent
> discharge at normal air pressure. If the balloon lifts the apparatus to,
> say, 100,000 feet, will we see the apparatus arc over when the air is
> sufficiently attenuated? Or will we get a kind of corona glow? Or nothing?
> A camera would be pointed at the gap to film the result.
> Paul Thompson
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