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Plasma lamps (also variously plasma globes, balls, domes, spheres, tubes or orbs) are novelty items which were most popular in the 1980s. The plasma lamp was invented by Nikola Tesla after his experimentation with high frequency currents in an evacuated glass tube for the purpose of studying high voltage phenomena, but the modern versions were first designed by Bill Parker. Placing a hand near the glass alters the high-frequency electric field, causing a single beam to migrate from the inner ball to the point of contact. An electric current is produced within any conductive object near the orb, as the glass does not block the electromagnetic field created by the electric current flowing through the plasma (though the insulator does block the current itself). Caution should be made when placing electronic devices near or upon the plasma lamp: not only may the glass become hot, but the high voltage may place a substantial static charge on the device, even through a protective plastic casing. The radio frequency field produced by plasma lamps can interfere with the operation of touchpads used on laptop computers, digital audio players, cell phones, and other similar devices. Some types can radiate sufficient RFI to interfere with cordless telephones and Wi-Fi devices several feet away. Additionally, when a metal object (such as a coin) is placed on the surface of a plasma lamp's glass, a danger of shock and burning exists; it is very easy for electricity to be emitted from the lamp if the metal comes in contact or proximity with certain other materials, including human tissue. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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