Electrickery

Reporter: Mark Gibson

Welcome to the dangerous domain of Peter Terren. By day, a medical doctor, by night, a backyard scientific guru.

It is no ordinary backyard shed, it's where Peter Terren tinkers with Tesla coils. "Well a Tesla coil is a high voltage transformer and this was invented by Nicola Tesler some 150 years ago. It basically takes a low voltage and makes it into a very high voltage which then shoots out into the air with little lightning bolts -- just straight into the air or onto other objects", Peter explained.

Peter shoots 20,000 volts of electricity into his hand. "It's the current that actually matters but the current here is very low", Peter said.

Peter suggested I try it and told me it wouldn't hurt a bit. But trust me, 20,000 volts is no walk in the park.

Next is a high voltage generator that creates 80 thousand volts. "This is a bit more dangerous this one, but as long as you stay back from it a bit", Peter said.

Bored with that, why not give yourself an electric shock? "This is a defibrillator with a pacemaker option and what I'm doing is I'm putting an electric current through my arm and that's stimulating the muscle to jerk", Peter said.

It's the massive, home-made Tesla coil that really makes Peter proud. "It's purely just mains power but we take 250 volts and then build it up to 16,000 volts and then up the top build it up to half a million volts", Peter said.

And when the sun goes down, this shocking hobby really comes alive. The married father of three enters a wire cage and prepares to be blasted by half a million volts. "The first time you do it, it's a little unnerving because really there's a lot of electricity coming very close to your face", Peter said.

Peter calls his strange hobby "electrickery".

The piece de resistance would have to be the Tesla coil that shoots 200,000 volts of power into a salt water swimming pool. Peter Terren is about to get into that water, with nothing but a dodgy looking Alfoil hat for protection. The helmet allows the electricity to strike his head and pass harmlessly into the water, without going through his body.

It's amazing to think Dr. Terren does all this, not for fame or fortune -- but for fun.

Our night at the crazy doctor's house really went off with a bang. So what's next for this former physics drop out? "Look I just enjoy doing science things of all sorts of things that haven't been done before. I love to do it and look I think of 10 things before breakfast, whether any of them get done is another matter", Peter said.

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www.tesladownunder.com