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I'm doing a science project were I'm trying to prove that radio waves in the air can light a mercury filled bulb. My therory is is that if I attach an antenna to the bulb then the radio waves in the air will excite the mercury and create light. I s this a good idea or am I wasting my time?

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  • $\begingroup$ Not sure what kind of information you're looking for when you say "Is this a good idea?". That sort of thing has been done and it works. $\endgroup$ – Samuel Weir Sep 14 '17 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ An antenna turns radio waves into electricity. If you can get the lamp to light up, then you're not lighting the bulb with radio waves, you're lighting it with electricity that was captured by the antenna from the incident radio waves. $\endgroup$ – Solomon Slow Sep 14 '17 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ You need a transmitting antenna for this to work. A receiving antenna receives too little power to light a bulb. You need a powerful radio transmitter instead. Also consider lighting a small neon bulb, like the one you can see in AC probes. (Smal neon bulbs ignite much easier like in a proximity of a working microwave oven.) In fact, AC probes do something very similar to what you are trying to accomplish, only with AC instead of radio. $\endgroup$ – safesphere Sep 15 '17 at 0:05
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Here is an example you might be able to do more easily than with an antenna. It uses a plasma globe, which you can then use in a cheesy movie.

There is still some debate as to what exactly is causing the glow, but it seems this falls on the quasistatic side unless I'm missing the plot.

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