80-meter thunderbolt on TU/e campus during GLOW

This year during GLOW, TU/e is keen to set a world record with a thunderbolt measuring at least 80 meters long. This is just one of the university's projects planned for display on the campus starting November 12, when the eleventh edition of the light art festival gets underway.

On one point agreement was quickly reached by those involved at TU/e, including the driving force behind the festival Gerrit Kroesen, Dean of the Department of Applied Physics: the Tesla coil had to come back. Five years ago, when the GLOW route also led across the TU/e site, the lightning installation generated a flood of enthusiastic reactions with its musical show from the roof of De Zwarte Doos.

This year the Tesla coil will have a spot in the lake next to the grand café. Here, says Kroesen, it will 'let rip' with its sparks on the black Buddha and the eggs in the artwork by Alex Vermeulen. Beneath the Buddha, a water feature will be installed (and will remain post-GLOW) on to which animations by the Institute for Complex Molecular Systems will be projected. The theme will be the origins of life.

Above the other TU/e lake, at Atlas (formerly the Main Building), there will be a three-dimensional hologram, some meters high. This will involve making a 3D scan of the artwork in the Van Abbemuseum. The associated data will be transported to the TU/e campus, according to Kroesen, “via glass fibers or a laser bundle”. The Integrated Photonics Institute will then convert this encrypted data into a hologram. This project too will become a permanent fixture after GLOW, in the hall of the Atlas building, according to plans.

In MetaForum's market hall an interactive installation will be created by the Department of Industrial Design and the Intelligent Lighting Institute. Even the chimney behind MetaForum will be taken in hand; light architect and TU/e alumnus Har Hollands is producing a design for this spot. More than three-quarters of the chimney will be taken up with a (permanent) LED installation that will generate a wide variety of patterns in various colors.

On the grass field in front of Flux will stand an interactive light artwork planned by GLOW's organizers, “a project they could not find a home for anywhere else along the route”. On De Zaale, under the trees between the Laplace Square and Gemini, a light structure by the study associations CHEOPS and Lucid will be suspended - according to Kroesen, “a complex network of rods and ropes involving illumination. It is supposed to react to the public walking by.” 

At the River Dommel another showpiece will await GLOW visitors, at least that is the plan. Here, TU/e wants to produce a thunderbolt measuring 80 to 100 meters. This will be achieved with the help of a long thin copper wire carrying a high-voltage pulse of half a million volts. The voltage will be applied to the copper wire every ten minutes, a job that will be carried out by drones, assisted by TU/e’s own Team Blue Jay.

According to Kroesen, a group from New Zealand achieved a 50-meter thunderbolt. “We want to achieve a bolt of no less than 100 meters throughout the entire week, every ten minutes,” says the Dean, who plans to report the record attempt to the Guinness World Records organization.

It is hoped that GLOW will draw some 750,000 visitors in total over its eight evenings.

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