Anyone want Kolac's ball lightning generator?
(too old to reply)
2012-08-30 21:07:52 UTC
Paul Kolac worked on lasers, lightning and plasma fusion, and had
filled his garage with research equipment. Towards the end of his life
he worked out of his garage, with minimal funding. As an example, he
had a machine which generated ball lightning plasmoids. He also had a
lot of copper plating, to protect the house from the EM fields.

His widow wishes to clear out the garage, and would give it all away
to a good home for little or no money. She primarily hopes the
equipment would be used in scientific research. She possibly might
hope to get back the value of the copper plating.

Be aware that most of the equipment is around 30 years old. The ball
lightning is not generated in a visible location, but is captured by 3
high speed cameras, also old, but usable. The equipment was last used
in 2004. Some of the people who operated it are still around.

He intended the plasmoids to be fed into a plasma fusion reactor, but
did not receive sufficient funding or collaboration to make the
attempt. Ball lightning is a confined state (he believed magnetically
confined). I am not knowledgeable about these things, but he must
have hoped the confined state would remain confined at the temperature/
pressure combinations that would exist in a hypothetical fusion
reactor for long enough to be commercially viable. AFAIK, there exists
no formal proof to show that such confinement must hold, so there is a
significant probability of failure. In addition, funding for fusion
research in general has been somewhat problematic over the last few
years. As best I understand it, Paul was interested in an a-neutronic
boron/hydrogen form of fusion, but perhaps the idea is not limited to
that type of fusion.

Regardless, there may be other scientific applications for a ball
lightning generator.

Or perhaps one could create a fun undergraduate physics lab
experiment, or a museum exhibit, involving plasma and ball lightning.

If you respond with your contact info, I will pass the info onto his
2012-09-01 20:29:58 UTC
I'm no longer in the group through which I met Paul Kolac's widow, and can no longer help interested parties - I don't have her contact info. I posted this a month or more ago, but I guess sci.physics.fusion it took a while for the post to go through.

In any event, last I spoke to her, his widow had decided she wanted to find someone interested in using it to continue something related to her husband's work.

All I can suggest to interested parties is that they play with search engines and try to contact his colleagues, who might know her contact info for her.