Ballasts are a current regulating device.  THEY ARE NECESSARY!  Once the arc
has been struck down the tube, it is essentially a "direct short circuit," in
other words, the arc itself can't regulate itself.  If no ballast is present,
(e.g. if the ballast is shorted, which can happen with tar ballasts) you will
instantly get a very bright flash of light, a loud "pop," and presto, no
tube.  It is dead as a doornail. Sometimes the fluorescent tube actually
explodes!  Luckily, that is a very rare occurrence!  Anyway, you DO need a