Inside the Van de Graaff generator
Jonathan Wiggs / Globe Staff; Caption: Jennifer Nelson, Boston.com Correspondent
The Van de Graaff generator, first developed in 1929 by physicist Robert J. Van de Graaff, uses a moving belt to achieve high voltages on a hollow metal sphere. The result? Indoor lightning! The generator, which was donated to the Museum of Science in 1959, is the worlds largest air-insulated generator and was built by Van de Graaff himself. It was originally used at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a research tool in early atom-smashing and high-energy X-ray experiments. Today, it sits in the Thomson Theatre of Electricity at the museum, where it is demonstrated daily.