Daily Giz Wiz 573: USB Plasma Ball

Episode 573 of the podcast

USB Plasma Ball
Subject: Review of USB Plasma Ball
Released:Wednesday 21 May 2008
Length:about 17 minutes
Download file:DGW-573.mp3 (7.8 MB)
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Listen to the episode

Short info

Harness the power of the USB Plasma Ball right from your USB port.

Detailed information

This Plasma Ball is powered by USB, 4'" in diameter, with an on/off swtich.  Put your finger on the sphere and the "glow" will congregate around your finger, like all other plasma balls.  Available at VAT19 and ThinkGeek.
Here is ThinkGeek's explanation of this magic.  A combination of gasses (such as Argon) are  trapped inside a plastic sphere at relatively low pressures.  An alternating current, at relatively high voltages, is sent into the sphere via an electrode in the centre.  This energy causes atoms (or electrons maybe) to be stripped from the gasses, leaving in its wake some positively charged ions and a gorgeous gaseous and electrically conductive environment (aka Plasma).  That high voltage served up through the electrode will now arc up through the plasma to the plastic sphere where the voltage is lower (starting at the top where the temperature is greater). The arcs glow because they are hotter than the surrounding plasma. You can touch the plastic and the arcs will strongly congregate to your touch because you will be creating an even lower voltage jump from the electrode.
Or just let Dick explain it to you in his own words:
[play video]

The Giz Wiz Green Room

Dick is negotiating for the TWiT Studio to be named after him.  Leo suggests "The Dick DeBartolo Memorial Antechamber".  Dick thinks it's too early to do that, and prefers "The Giz Wiz Green Room".

The Bird Logo

Leo explains to Dick how the name Twitter came about.  Evan Williams was running Odeo whose logo was a bird.  As a side project, an engineer of Odeo suggested this IM-like web service, so people could send messages called "tweets" to each other.  Hence the name Twitter.  For Dick and Leo's previous mention of Odeo, listen again to Episode 150, towards the end of that episode at about 14:00.  And it was Leo who told Dick about Odeo.

No Begging, Again

Having finally overtaken Barack Obama on the number of followers on Twitter, Leo is now locked in a close race with Kevin Rose.  As with the May 2006 Podcast Alley vote, Dick and Leo do not beg (Episode 67).  So sign up at Twitter and follow Leo, follow Dick, and Alfred E Neuman.
Please alleviate Leo's mid-life crisis and follow him on Twitter.  Otherwise send him a Jacob's Ladder for The Giz Wiz Green Room.

The Belly of a Dead Fish

Jack from New Hampshire (who may or may not be Jack Kelly from Episode 419) was listening to Episode 564 and was amused by Dick's reference to the beigey colour of the Socket Pocket.  As a technician, he is all too familiar with the colour and has always called it the "dead fish belly yellow".  It's very close to Dick's Tainted Tuna Taupe.

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