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  • Hey it's me Destin, welcome back to Smarter Every Day.

  • There's only few times in your

  • life when you look at something and

  • you're like: 'You know, this can't be a thing,'

  • But it is a thing!

  • This video is just like that. We're going

  • to look at an invention today by Nikola

  • Tesla, but the thing is, it looks just

  • like a video game, but I assure you this

  • video is real. Before we check that out I

  • want to go look at a couple of

  • contributions he made to society as

  • soon as he emigrated to the U.S. in the

  • 1880s. If you've ever done a

  • patent search on Nikola Tesla you'll be

  • amazed. It's all there! Pumps, guidance,

  • power distribution, fluid propulsion,

  • wireless energy, and a super important

  • one: motors. Tesla created a multi-phase

  • AC generator system that first proved it

  • could work at the Ames Hydroelectric

  • Power Plant in Colorado. This led to Tesla

  • teaming up with George Westinghouse and

  • creating the first large-scale AC power

  • plant at Niagara Falls, which was a huge

  • deal. If you haven't seen, it this really

  • cool statue of Tesla overlooks the

  • Canadian side of Niagara Falls. My

  • favorite part of the statue tells how

  • it came up with the idea of AC power.

  • He said he was walking in a park in

  • Budapest with a friend when suddenly the

  • idea of rotating magnetic fields

  • came to him like lightning so, he drew it in the dust.

  • Speaking of lightning, Tesla carried out

  • incredible experiments with high voltage

  • arcs in Colorado Springs. One such

  • experiment involved making this circuit.

  • There's a power supply which charges a

  • capacitor and when the capacitor fills

  • up in arcs across a spark gap, which

  • dumps that energy into a primary coil.

  • A secondary coil is tuned to the same

  • frequency for resonance, and then boosts

  • that voltage, and there you have it. Lightning.

  • There's a company called One Tesla

  • that makes do-it-yourself

  • Tesla coils that you can buy and assemble

  • all by yourself as long as you know how to solder.

  • My buddy Philip works at a

  • nuclear plant, so since we're dealing

  • with high-voltage, I got him to come over

  • and help me out. These things are super

  • cool and a great place to start if you

  • want to build your own coil. Instead of

  • using a spark gap like Tesla did, this

  • thing uses a really fancy inhibitor

  • circuit that lets you do really cool

  • stuff. You can load MIDI files onto an

  • onboard SD card and it will play

  • whatever song you want.

  • I wanted to hear it play O Fortuna

  • (buzzing in the tune of 'O Fortuna') Whoa!

  • (astonished noise)

  • Obviously, the next step was to try to impress the kids.

  • (buzzing to the tune of 'Super Mario Bros. - Main Theme')

  • (laughter)

  • (tune continues)

  • That is so cool

  • (tune continues)

  • (laughter)

  • after this we started trying to

  • methodically probe the limits of the

  • system to see what it was really capable of,

  • but I got a little too confident, and in my

  • excitement I started to do things with

  • the manual tells you not to do.

  • Looking back at it this is kind of funny,

  • because you can see the exact second

  • when i go from pure geek joy, to instant regret.

  • (rapid, high pitched buzzing)

  • Are you seein' this?

  • Oh it broke!

  • I broke it and I feel bad about that,

  • because I knew what I was doing, I over

  • drove it I probably broke the rectifier

  • or the igbt and I'm sad. It's a DIY

  • coil, though. We can fix it quickly, but

  • instead of working on it why don't we go

  • visit a guy in my hometown, who has a

  • website dedicated to Tesla coils. I

  • found him today, have never met the dude,

  • about to go be best friends with this

  • guy. he's got a little bit larger coil.

  • Let's go get Smarter Every Day.

  • This is Cameron Prince. He runs the number one

  • Tesla resource website on the

  • Internet called teslauniverse.com. He

  • provides tesla coil performances, and he

  • also happens to live directly across the

  • street from my aunt and uncle.

  • This is a little bit bigger than mine.

  • "How big is this thing?" Prince: "Oh it stands about nine foot-tall." Destin: "Nine foot-tall? "Did you build it?"

  • Prince: "I did. It's as big as I could make

  • it and fit in the garage."

  • "Really." "Yeah." "So that was the design requirement?"

  • "Yeah that was the design limitation there."

  • Destin: "Is that a capacitor bank down there?"

  • Prince: "Yeah, that's a big capacitor bank."

  • "Dude! That's not a joke!"

  • Prince: "Those came out of an MRI machine."

  • "Really. Is that the most expensive part of the

  • whole device?" Uhm probably." "And do the cats walk

  • around when you're doing it?"

  • Destin: "That would- It would bake a cat, man!"

  • Destin, narrating: Cameron is the real deal. When I was a

  • kid I collected baseball cards and rode

  • my bike. Not Cameron. His life changed

  • forever the first time he saw a picture

  • of Nikola Tesla." Cameron: "when I saw those pictures

  • of him in colorado springs, in his

  • experiments, sittin' in front of his coil,

  • that lightning going around him

  • and then I was hooked. You know most people were...

  • when they were kids, were throwing baseballs

  • and stuff. I had a box of light bulbs and wires and

  • batteries" Destin: "That's awesome. I like

  • it when people are excited about things.

  • This makes it so much more fun."

  • okay here we go

  • (indistinct speech, snapping switches)

  • (loud buzzing, rising in intensity)

  • Destin: "Holy Cow!"

  • (buzzing continues)

  • 'Ok, I got it! I got it!"

  • (buzzing falls off, Destin laughs) "That is ridiculous!

  • (still laughing) Alright. Alright. That's unnerving!

  • Time out. There are some experiences you

  • cannot convey via internet video, and

  • this is one of those. We're talking

  • 20-foot lightning bolts hitting the

  • ground constantly in front of you.

  • This was unreal. My heart has never gone from

  • zero to a hundred in this short amount

  • of time. It was... whatever. I can't explain it,

  • I'm not gonna try." "I can't explain that!"

  • After I calmed down a bit, Cameron asked me if

  • I wanted to see a real-life Tesla gun,

  • which I didn't even know was a thing!

  • He built this thing from a kit designed by

  • his two friends Steve Ward and Phillip

  • Slowinski. Only a few of these things exist

  • in the world, and I apologize for the

  • laughing here, but I was really, really

  • excited.

  • It doesn't look real; it feels like

  • you're in some kind of video game.

  • "How do you control the power output?"

  • "The display right here." "Dude! This is full-on

  • Ghostbusters stuff" "Oh yeah. Totally." "Where do I need

  • to stand?" "Uh, anywhere. I need help with a breaker,

  • that pin there, pull up."

  • (pin clicks) Destin: "Holy Moly! Okay." "Alright."

  • (Destin laughs)

  • Destin: "Where do I need to stand?" "Anywhere." "Oh, dude."

  • (Tesla coil buzzes)

  • "Wow."

  • (continued buzzing) Cameron: "That's super low,"

  • (buzzing stops) "but I can bring the intensity up."

  • Destin: "You know that that feeling when"

  • somebody has a loaded gun around you,

  • only the gun could point anywhere.

  • So I'm going to step back here. (laughs)

  • (deeper buzzing)

  • "Wow. So what's it arcing to? Why is it not