Electricity & Magnetism

Short Circuit

When the electricity section at the Exploratorium was being planned, we had a conference with many learned people. This question was put to them, What turned you on to or off of the phenomenon of electricity? Almost without exception all males at the conference remembered being given model train sets at Christmas and having as much fun vaporizing the tinsel from the tree across the electrified tracks as actually playing with the trains! This exhibit dispenses a short piece of thin wire. The wire is then placed across the terminals of a battery. The wire heats up red-hot and then burns through. It's not quite as exciting as the original model railroad, but at least it's safe.