https://www.instructables.com/id/Maker-your-own-Lightning-Globe!/ Basically: Small tesla coil, producing high-frequency high-voltage low-current signal. Discharges from this ionize a gas, or gas mixture (exactly which depends on the globe), creating a charged plasma. Current flow through that plasma heats it, causing it to glow -- just as a static-electricity spark (or a lightning bolt) glows. The bulb may or may not have a conductive coating to act as the other terminal for this ionizing current. If you come near to or touch the globe, you act as a large ground and some current flows to you, altering the pattern of ionization and thus the light patterns. (You may feel the current as a slight prickling where your skin touches the globe; as with static electricity there isn't enough current to do you any harm.)
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And if you wrap the globe in tin foil, then touch it, it will burn you a little.
is this true: my friend said he touched one finger on the globe and the other hand on a pipe which goes to earth and he says that he gets a jolt through him but im not sure if it's true do any of you know? (he does make up tonnes of things so i really don't know what to believe)