Lancaster University - Tripping the light fantastic

September 9, 2010

A new model created by a space scientist is bringing the Northern Lights into the classroom. After receiving a research council grant to produce an outreach tool, Jim Wild, lecturer in communication systems at Lancaster University, created an "aurora in a box". Electrons flow through gas in glass tubes, which fluoresces in exactly the same way as the gas at the North Pole responsible for the spectacle of the aurora borealis. "The science of the aurora is basically the same as that of the neon lamp one can find in shops and advertising displays," explained Dr Wild. "I really like the idea that something familiar and something that seems so magical rely on exactly the same physics."

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