Yugoslavian Nikola Tesla couldn't possibly have known when he invented his "Tesla Coil" in 1890 that it would dazzle folks in Salt Lake City, Utah.
But that's exactly what the high-frequency electric pump did Thursday at the Hansen Planetarium as it unleashed 8-foot lightning bolts before the crowd.With their ears plugged and eyes frequently shut, a group of Hansen Planetarium's members, donors, and other VIPs witnessed the coil transform 220 volts of electricity into more than 2 million volts - creating a spectacular of purple and white fire-bolts and crackling noise.
The Tesla Coil is the star attraction in the planetarium's Zap '90 show, which opened June 18.
At one point in the show, Donna Ostlund, mother of four and volunteer science teacher in Davis County, stood on a raised platform while 2 million volts of electricity generated by the coil flowed over her body.
Ostlund, who also is an actress in the production, says the experience is no worse than having a baby.
"It feels just like when your foot has gone to sleep and the blood starts circulating back through the limb. That tingling, prickly feeling - very intense," she said. "I argue that once you've had a baby, nothing hurts."
Zap '90 runs daily through November.