Dr. Van de Graaff never imagined his generator would electrify so many Boston school children.
We here at VroomVroomVroom are not just experts in car rental rate comparison – we’re also experts in giant aluminum sparky thingies! Don’t believe us? Ok, so maybe we’re only rental car experts… but we know where to go to see the greatest demonstration of static electricity on Earth: the Museum of Science in Boston, Massachusetts!
A Van de Graaff generator is the proper name for a static-producing machine first built by the physicist Dr. Robert J. Van de Graaff at Princeton University in New Jersey in 1929.
These generators have a moving belt that gathers large amounts of electricity. The static charge then builds up on a metal sphere and eventually creates a spark. Just being in the same room with a smaller model of Van de Graaff generator can make your hair stand up…
But this Big Thing To See in the USA is no ordinary spark machine! The World’s Largest Van de Graaff Generator is a permanent exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science, where it has been entertaining museum goers and groups of children on school trips since the Elihu Thomson Theater of Electricity opened back in 1980!
It’s made of 2 aluminum spheres that are 15 feet in diameter that sit atop 22 foot high columns. (It’s 2 stories tall!) When turned on, it creates over 2 million volts! The museum CONDUCTS several demonstrations – appropriately called “Lightning!” – with the gigantic generator every day.
If you want to visit the Museum of Science and see the World’s Largest Spark Machine, just hop into your rental car and drive over to 1 Science Park. It’s located in the heart of Boston, and it’s about a 4 mile drive west of Boston Logan Airport, if you drive your rental car south along Massachusetts Highway 1A (the Sumner Tunnel toll road).