Van de Graaff Generator
Fluorescent Bulb Flashing
The high voltage discharge from the van deGraaf can excite the phosphor in an ordinary fluorescent tube. The electrodes on one end are held on or close to the van de Graaff and sparks jump to the fluorescent tube. The discharges from the two electrodes at the hand can be painful, so a metal plate is held across those electrodes.
Voltages in excess of 100,000 volts can be generated with a demonstration model Van de Graaff generator. Though startling, discharges from the Van de Graaff do not represent a serious shock hazard since the currents attainable are so small.