Building Lightning Farms in Paris

The New York Times just released its 7th annual Year in Ideas round-up, and there are some interesting inclusions.
Amidst short articles on airborne wind turbines, Islam in outer space, UPS's ban on left-hand turns – all of which have been explored on BLDGBLOG before – and even so-called "marijuana mansions," we're asked to consider "whether full-scale lightning farms might one day become a meaningful source of electricity."

Practically speaking, the NYTimes explains, building a lightning farm would entail the construction of an entire specialty landscape. You could probably even patent it.
There would be "a tower, an array of grounding wires to shunt off most of the incoming energy and a giant capacitor. Theoretically, if enough energy is delivered to the capacitor, it can be stored, converted to alternating current and transferred to the power grid."
Unfortunately, the article explains, lightning farms don't really work.
But no matter: BLDGBLOG would like to propose turning the entirety of Paris into a lightning farm. The Eiffel Tower would loom over a network of grounding wires. Groves of steel poles – orchards of power, virtually harnessing the sky – would stand amidst cobblestones, spiraling up hills, and the outermost streets of the city, connecting cafe to cafe down stairways, leading up to bars and scenic overlooks, glow every fortnight as that great central spike gets thrashed with aerial electricity. You can toast bread with all that power, draining the clouds, awaiting storms with videocameras in hand to film that apocalypse of alternating currents in the sky.

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Blogger f:lux said...

You can toast bread with all that power

Mais oui - croque monsieur ou madame?

Up until 2002 the Eiffel Tower was already copyright protected (and perhaps it still is?). At least, the lights that illuminated it at regular intervals each evening were. So, patenting? And a capacitor! Yum.

December 08, 2007 7:59 PM  
Blogger deepstructure said...

we should wire up half dome. i can personally atest to how electrified it can get, even when it's not being struck by lightning (thankfully i have no atesting to do about that!).

December 09, 2007 12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe we could plug in walter de maria's lightning field to the grid

December 09, 2007 10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So is that a real photograph? When did this happen? Is this a reoccuring event?

December 10, 2007 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reverse the capacitors, charge up the tower and let the juice flow ... light up the night sky for your own Tesla parties.

December 11, 2007 6:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


December 11, 2007 10:12 PM  

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