Home > Science, Uncategorized > WAAAAAaaahhhhhhOOOOOOOOAAAaahhhhhh


Lately, the last thing that I feel like doing is updating my blog. I can’t explain the reasoning behind this. I can comfortably blame it on laziness. I am a tremendously lazy person. I’ve made it a kind of Zen thing. More likely than the laziness is that I’ve lost a bit of the fascination wonder I had when I started this project. So, you know, that sucks.

Instead of not blogging, I’m forcing myself into it. Like pity sex, but for my blog. It’ll be fun. For you. The viewers. You voyeuristic bastards.

One of my fears of being a father is that my daughter will start asking me questions that I don’t know the answers to. I’ve toyed with the idea that everything is either the result of magic, a miracle, or the work of the devil. Generally, most of these explanations will involve a bizarre story involving some adorable woodland creature whose soul gets devoured in order to make whatever she’s asking about possible.

The reason I know that my daughter will ask me these sorts of questions is because her mother already does. Just the other day Samantha asked me why power lines make that annoying noise. After a long story involving a prairie dog that sacrifices its soul to Satan in order to travel at light speed, my wife called me on my bullshit and told me to google the real reason.

It turns out the reason that power lines make noise, besides Satan, is because of corona discharge, which will henceforth be what I call that little pfft that occurs when you mix up a Corona after putting lime in the bottle.

Well…good post, huh? Alright, see you later.

For those of you who (or is that whom? (no, no I’m pretty sure it’s who)) feel the insatiable need to know more, corona discharge is created by electric fields ionizing the air surrounding electric lines. The electricity traveling through the lines has enough energy to create a powerful enough electric field that the nitrogen and oxygen in the air start absorbing some of that energy and shooting off electrons. Now you’ve got  lot of  electrons and positive ions shooting around and bumping into neutral oxygen and nitrogen, this creates more electrons and positive ions, something called an electron avalanche.  Once you’ve got a bunch of free electrons and ions, you’ve got yourself a plasma.

The current going through the power lines gets transferred to the plasma surrounding it, which causes the plasma to vibrate at 60 hz, and makes an audible buzz. Beyond the buzz, corona discharge can also create a purplish glow, though not usually in power lines. This glow is the cause for the eerie St. Elmo’s fire (the phenomenon, not the crappy Schumacher movie) and is theorized to be one of the causes of Will-O’-the-wisps.

  1. August 31, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    If you don’t know the answer, you could always make it up!

    That’s how I learned unicorns poop rainbows.

    • DJ
      September 1, 2010 at 1:17 pm

      That’s pretty much been the unwritten rule of this blog from the start.

      The making stuff up part not the rainbow pooping unicorn part.

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