Yeah I think the Oatmeal is hilarious! We were lucky in our highschool, we had a bit of a mad scientist electronics/biology teacher who had a full scale Tesla coil in the classroom, along with a large power supply that could feed anywhere from 1-200V AC or DC right to little knobs on our desks. We also had a jacobs ladder that was fun to play with.
I remember that tesla coil it was about 12 feet high at it's highest point, the top ball was about 2.5 feet in diameter. There was a glass plate capacitor that was about 16" square. It made a really cool sound when running, and then the teacher would hold a 4' flourescent tube light up the the coil and it would light up in his hand!!! Cool shit!
Of course most geniuses lived in poverty in their later years... Too bad!