Setup #2
12-01-08 update
Recent experiment Results10/12
Related cap-plate experiments 2011 on youtube

Capacitor-type plate arrangement and discharge craters formed.

If you have not yet seen the slideshow of images here is the link to one of several under the same username.

From the CRT experiment results i've seen some of the most detailed features in the form of craters, crater-chains and trenches but without a depth of material sufficient to create walls I was left unsatisfied of the full scope of what information could be yeilded from these experiments. In the following paragraphs, If you find errors in my explanation, i hope you'll inform me with corrections.


CRT screens are essentially a plate capacitor that is bombarded by an electron gun at the back of the tube. Charge is established on the interior surface and without special consideration built into the device the screens would be highly charged on their exterior surface. The type of CRT used in the first experiments was quite active. It attracted allot of dust and if an object got too close the surface would discharge with a loud pop. I learned this while intending to clean the dust from the surface, and what a surprise it was.

To attempt getting similar sesults with a stronger spark is the intention of the cap-plate experiment. Determining the force requirements involved in forming the various features seen on planetary bodies will help understand the age of bodies scared with craters and other features. Some of the features under consideration would involve discharge energies of incredible ferocity and others may be more subdued by comparrison and occuring on a regular basis giving us the fresh-looking features seen on many bodies. These are the features these experiments are intend to focus upon and hopefully identify in contrast to the others.  

3D stereoscopic view

Through the work of many researchers over the years, the electric mechanism has been suggested and validated through experiments. Amoung those researchers, the one that got me going on this line of thinking is Wal Thornhill. His work with high energy discharges is well established and my hope is to complement that perspective and emphasize lower energy aspect, because this activity may be what we will be seeing in the present as we get a closer look on mars and elsewhere. In later years, the experimente CJ Ransom showed me his results -and in a limited way, discussed some details. Other contributors can be seen at the thunderbolts forum thread on CRT experiments, there are too many to mention here.

From the images of the CRT experiment one of the most outstanding feature associated with crater-like patterns is the concentration of material at the perimeter. Next to that is the way crater chains form, not overlapping like a weld bead but connected in adjacent fashion with partial-circular features being subsequent in their occurance aside completely round craters. Counter-intuitive in how i described this in discussions back in 2006 and even before in web posts. These details can be clearly observed during their formation by low energy discharges from the CRT to a probe.

I'm crazy about crater chains.

Now that you've seen the characteristics of the CRT features you might be able to understand my emphasis on replicating them in deeper material while maintaining some capacitor characteristics to the surface, and with whatever arc-energy necessary to create the detail that is captured by space probes around numerous celestial bodies. None more clearly emphasizes this than the stereo images from the European Space Agency.
The radial features can also be seen in the CRT features at the top of this page, you'll need a real close eye though. In the light of the many similarities and other features not yet mentioned there must be somthing about the CRT that differentiates it from what i'll call a two dimensional-charge apparatus, meaning a charged plate and an oppositely charged probe. My thought is that maybe it being a capacitor would be worth consideration so making a capacitor apparatus might provide more clues so all possibilities are considered.

With some background now out of the way I'll try and add any pieces that didn't come across clearly in the capacitor-plate video. For the power source of this experiment i used jumperwires to connect to the plates of the ionizer to the plates of my experiment. The positive plate was a steel metal lid 6x6", the plexi-glass was a 10x10x1/16 inch thick sheet. On top was laid a 12x20 piece of 3/32 aluminum sheet. My hope was that the positively charged steel would draw a concentration of negative charge into the area where the desert talc-like dust was distributed. Vibrations were sent through the plate by tapping so as to cause the course grains to rise and the fine dust to get covered. It also made a field of mounds around the perimeter of the pile giving a natural appearance to the images. Charge saturation time was short, only a few minutes, far shorter than what was done with the CRT surface. Sometimes i left the CRT on for days, even weeks, before testing the discharge activity. I plan on doing the same in the cap-plate experiment so that the material can build up a charge. Already though, I've noticed activity in the material as the probe approaches the material. This activity needs great scrutiny with high speed filming. The probe was brought to the surface as vertically as possible and arcs occurred after or below the level that material was seen to be disturbed at the surface. I tried to withdraw the probe as soon as an arc occurred because a single discharge was responsible for many of the CRT features but I can only attest to the audible arcs. I'm sure there were other arcs and streamers of energy interacting because material could be seen coming off the CRT surface in an orderly fashion. In both the cap-plate and single plate experiment material was being re-arranged long before the arc occured. Often, before an arc let loose the material was displaced symmertically to form the first hint of a crater. Where the material was shallow, an instantly round feature was formed. In thicker material a blast-bowl was formed and then a steeply walled path was cut through to the plate, This can be clearly seen in some of the images. The intensity of the arc seemed greater in the cap-plate experiment because it cut through the deep material with authority and from a greater distance than observed in the single-plate setup.


This image is from cap-plate version of experiment. Here the craters in the center are in deep material and formed without the probe reaching the surface.

This is from the single-plate version. The probe had to be held in the material in the central area of the mound in order to coax an arc. The two large craters were from numerous arcs to the plate, all remaining in the center of the cleared area.


This is a new setup different than was used for the pictures above. The intention is to attempt to remove the air barrier to see if the arc will reach further and also to see if the material might behave differently. The probe height is just a bit more that was needed for formation of the current craters. An important detail is that the arc was targeted on the center of the crater.

And if those don't get you all tingly, maybe this one will do the trick.

This image is an intermediate capture which shows a stage in the progression of this discharge location. I was going to stop here but then the coaxing came saying i'd like the results if i went longer.
A note about the probe location; While suction was put on the chamber the probe would move forward and down so its current location is somewhat missleading. The adjacent craters were made individually at two separate phases of the experiment.
halfpipe feature in the top center is
from the edge of a quarter.
The characteristics of the resulting image suggested to me that the crater-like features of the CRT experiments might differ somewhat if a sustained or repeated arc were to occur. If non visible discharges have the same effect as visible ones then this supposition may not be warranted. There were numerous discharges observed in the CRT runs which were stationary and multiple with one important detail to realize, the repeated discharges were much smaller than the initial one and sometimes left tiny round features inside the larger. The first discharge was a transfer of material to the probe accompanied by a concentration of material around the rim. The subsequent ones were real hard to coax and observe, but from the pattern left, it seemed to focus between the rim and the center. This may explain an interior concentration seen in many features and in this electric wind experiment.

There may be more similarity between these two experiments than I might've thought. In CRT runs, when the initial discharge was adjacent to others it would not be a whole circle unless it was in a far seperated time frame as the others.

The time frame detail is similar to the one in the current experiment which resulted in this superimposed feature, as described by Wal Thornhill.
A NASA image, similar to right image, can be found here in an article at one blog of the team.

The repeated arc discharges that formed the central feature stayed within the central part of the exposed plate. You will see in the image above the distance between the adjacent, previous, craters. The halfpipe, a rectangular impression, has by now been partly erroded by the arc which formed the superimposed crater.
A note about the probe location; While suction was put on the chamber the probe would move forward and down so its current location is somewhat missleading. The adjacent craters were made individually at two separate phases of the experiment. Also, In almost every location material would move to the probe before the arc occurred. You'll see some traces of that attraction in other images around the edges of the dirt pile.

Oh what we can learn from a pile of dirt.




12/01/2008 update

This setup of the Capacitor plate experiment has a larger surface area of the positively charged lower plate and the results are somewhat different in the characteristics of the arc. The intensity of the arc seems to have increased which may allow for layers of material or at least greater depths. The behavior of the arc has also changed.
In a non-vacuum phase several craters were made in the same material as was used one run earlier. These features got large rather quick as the arc reached out laterally more than previously when it stayed focused in the central region.
You can see the increased size in contrast to the image above. You can also see the changes to adjacent features as new displaced material settles onto them.
In this run I depressurize the chamber and video'd the formation of another crater in the same sample of material. While i write up additions to this page you can view some images in the index of this site, images dsc153 and up to 190.
The two craters to the left of the red insulator were made before appplying vacuum. There are actually four in that line and each took numerous discharges to form, just about as many as involved in the feature directly under the probe tip. That feature is elongated because the probe moved forward and back as the chamber flexed under vacuum pressure.

I am begining to suspect the need for the allowance of charge saturation time. As mentioned above, this was practiced in the CRT experiments and the results seemed to be a very reactive surface. Far different than this cap-plate setup where multiple arcs are required to move the material gradually. A dramatic contrast to the CRT surface's material displacement. A question is raised in my mind as i see the limitations of an arc, even in shallow material a single arc leaves a much smaller feature than was made with a single arc discharge (non visible however) to the surface of a dust covered CRT. There are two detail to consider in this comparrison; the size of the probe (my finger compared to the tip of a voltmeter probe) and the amount of energy being sent to the surface of the plate capacitor. This detail will be addressed after looking into probe considerations. I'd use my finger for this cap-plate experiment but the jolt is a bit intense.
A third detail, unrelated to individual crater formation, is that crater chains are harder to form in the cap-plate experiment than in the CRT experiment. Those in the CRT setup had many similarities to one particular chain feature seen on Ganymede. CRT images at the top of the page give an idea of the comparrison. The absolute straightness of this feature, combined with the circular characteristics along its length persuade me that this is not a shock wave imprint, as suggested by one physicist of conventional persuasion. This features looks more like the pattern left by arcs along the CRT screen as my finger passed in close proximity. My proposal is that a solid body made a very close approach to Ganymede and discharged as the two bodies interacted electrically. That body may have disintigrated, based on the appearance of a fine dust at the end of the chain, but I wouldn't be surprised if it took the energizer bunny path and kept on going.
How this feature differes from what i get in the latest cap-plate setup is that chains are hard to form with straight-connected circles because the arc jumps sideways making offset circles rather than end-to-end connected ones. There is a possible exception, when the probe is moved at a slow rate of speed and held close to the surface, but here as well, lateral reach of the arc shows up as slightly offset circles and the tight spacing of arcs leaves more of a trench than a chain of circles.
We don't want to get distracted here on chains of craters but we should realize that a lateral reaching arc is being seen in this phase of the cap-plate experiment where a larger positive plate is used. It's dimensions are 1/4 less than the dielectric acrylic material making it about 81 sq/in. almost double the previous size. I sure wish i knew what was happening in electron-vile. My hope is that the capacitor plate setup will concentrate electrons to the region of the plate where the sample material is placed. I must say the arcs sure got larger, and as i allow more saturation time they seem more powerfull as well, but maybe too powerfull, if the single-arc pattern is any clue in this comparrison.

The probe movement during evacuation of the chamber was a problem that showed up as elongated craters. The solution is a different chamber. I was able to acheive 16 inches of vacuum with this one. I'm still pondering the results at these lower pressures so another picture is all I've got for now. The feature under the probe in image dsc200 was made with about 10 in vac. The lobes were made by swinging the probe. Find it here

More to be added later