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miracle in my dorm room?

ok i'm no genius, so this might be a stupid question i goto to boarding school, and i have one of those plasma globes with the electricity inside, and when you touch it the electricity move to your fingers anyway, my roomate has this lamp, and i swear to god how it works is beyond me the lightbulb sits in the bottom of a tall metal box frame , the sides of which are covered with lampshade paper and the top of which is open it has three intensity settings, and to switch it through the three you lightly rap on the metal of the frame with your finger BUT: it doesnt work if you shake it, and if you tap it with plastic, metal, or a magnet nothing happens in addition to all that, if i sit the plasma globe near it and flick it on or touch it, the jesus lamp switches up to the next intensity (after the third it turns off) i think it might be a midget in my desk drawer, but if anyone knows better PLEASE enlighten me as to whats going on...

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Kind of late on this, but ran across this site and thought you might like to read it: Touch Sensor
sethex (author) 10 years ago
huh... yeah ive done that thing with the amp, i guess that makes sense thanks bro ..... ... guess i should call the church again...
westfw10 years ago
A class of "touch switch" relies on using the human body as an antenna for the 60Hz electrical "hum" that's all around us in modern environments. When you touch the contact the 60Hz signal is amplified and used to trigger a relay or solid-state switch. (you're familiar with the general principle if you've ever touched the center contact on an audio pre-amp input and had 60Hz BUZZ come out the speakers.) I'd guess that the plasma globe is an efficient enough radiator of electrical fields to get picked up by the lampbase, if conditions are just right...
sethex (author) 10 years ago
but my mouse isnt affected by the plasma globe... if anyone has any other explaination this bothers me on a daily basis :P
Kiteman10 years ago
It's something to do with capacitance, same as the touchpad on laptops. Beyond that, sorry. Certanly 'taint a miracle, not if it's repeatable and examinable.