BELLINGHAM – For those who dare to stand in the Cage of Doom and experience the nearly 5 million volts produced by the MegaZapper, the reward is a sticker.
“I survived,” it says.
And so I did. The sticker also features an electrified skeleton, just a small part of the fun at the SPARK Museum in Bellingham.
The giant lightning arcs from the 9-foot Tesla coil were mesmerizing, dancing about me as I stood in the metal cage. It was custom-built for the museum.
“We didn’t go to Costco,” says Tana Granack, director of operations.
The museum celebrates the transition from the candle- and gas-lit era to electricity.
Visitors with a pacemaker or defibrillator will have to forgo the Cage of Doom, but thousands of other rare and one-of-a-kind items are ready to be explored, from early radios and telephones to a Theremin musical instrument and medical quackery.
There’s Thomas Edison’s first successful home light bulb that the great inventor himself — holder of more than 1,000 patents — made. Only three are known to exist. Its introduction caused gas stocks to plummet and his company’s to soar.
The filament of this one is now burned out.
“It’s priceless and it’s worthless,” Granack says.
Nearby, the “War of the Currents” is explained. Would Edison’s push for direct current (DC) win out over Nikola Tesla’s alternating current (AC)?
Tesla triumphed and our homes have 60-cycle AC. (DC needed thick cables and lost power the greater the distance traveled.)
Tesla also has a high-end, all-electric car named after him. Edison did experiment with and built a battery-powered, front-wheel-drive car more than a century ago. The lower cost of Henry Ford’s Model T helped derail it.
For information, directions and hours, go to sparkmuseum.org