Photo credit: Dr. Peter Terren / PopSci

You’ve probably seen, or at least heard about, Tesla coils in science class, but here’s what they can really do outside of the classroom. In the image above, an Aussie physician and physics junkie created this electrifying display of holiday cheer, using a 30-foot Tesla coil ‘tree’ and a super-long camera exposure.” Continue reading to see seven cool and creative Tesla coil experiments.

7. Twin Tesla Coils

Why stop at one Tesla coil, when you’ve got the material to build a twin setup? If you’re unfamiliar with this technology, it’s basically “a type of resonant transformer circuit invented by Nikola Tesla around 1891; it is used to produce high voltage, low current, high frequency alternating current electricity.”

6. Kinect-Controlled

After day one of the 2011 Maker Fair UK, “Tom Wyatt and the London Hackspace team came up with an idea – Kinect-controlled Tesla coils, [also known as] the ‘Evil Genius Simulator’.” Now if only developers could come up with an actual game that made use of this setup, without endangering the players’ lives.

5. Iron Man Theme

For those who don’t already know, “composer Ramin Djawadis said Downey’s performance inspired the several Iron Man themes (for his different moods), as well as Stark’s playboy leitmotif.”

4. Plasma Globe

RMCybernetics managed to convert a cordless drill into a handheld Tesla Coil, in which they use to cause “a nearby light bulb to light up as if it were a plasma globe”. Though not very practical, the ensuing creation is a sight to see nonetheless.

3. Fur Elise

Using a UM66T-19L melody generator chip, this person was able to hack an 18V mini tesla coil to play Beethoven’s Fur Elise, as you’ll see in the video. With just a little extra programming, it can play a variety of songs.

2. Speakers

Standing 7-feet tall each, these Tesla Coils — each assigned to MIDI channels — recreate the Mario Bros. theme with just sparks. Ok, they’re also connected via fiber optic link to a laptop computer running custom software.

1. Guitar Amp

ScopeBoy managed to modify a Tesla Coil for guitar amplification, all 250,000 volts. Though not very practical and dangerous, it puts on quite a show to say the least. Fortunately, this is only the beginning, as a Tesla Coil-powered harp may be in the works.