What Is a Lightning Ball?
Ball lightning is one of the most mysterious and unexplored phenomena in nature. Despite many eyewitness reports, it can not be all the way studied and reproduced in the laboratory. Is ball lightning real, and what do scientists know about them? Let`s find out.
Meeting with a Lightning Ball
Since the XVII century, thousands of evidence of ball lightning have been recorded. Modern encounters with this phenomenon are best described. In 1978, the ball lightning attacked five climbers who stayed overnight at the Caucasian mountain Trapezia.
According to the group leader, the sparkling yellow sphere flew directly into the tent, rushed from one climber to another, and crashed into one of the athletes. One of the team members caught lightning with his body and died on the spot. The rest survived but got severe burns.
In 2008, the trolleybus passengers met with the phenomenon. Then the conductor struck lightning with a validator at the empty end of the cabin. The sphere burst loudly, but none of the 20 passengers were injured.
In 2012, the Chinese scientists managed to obtain the spectrum of radiation of the ball lightning. The researchers have studied in detail the chemical composition of the luminous area. In contrast to the usual discharge in the atmosphere, the power lines of the ball lightning came from the soil.
Lightning Ball Phenomenon
Most scientists tend to believe that the lightning ball is of electrical origin and occurs at the moment of a powerful thunderstorm. The phenomenon itself can live from a few seconds to half an hour and is a small glowing ball.
Can Ball Lightning Go through Walls?
Ball lightning can pass through walls and be attracted to metal objects. When its integrity is broken, it breaks off powerfully, leaving behind the smell of sulfur.
There are more than a hundred theories that try to explain the phenomenon. The most plausible is the theory of Soviet physicists Kurdyumov, Kapitsa, and Shironosov.
In their opinion, ball lightning is a stable electrical formation, which appeared in the conditions of energy dissipation. It is born from ordinary lightning as a result of a standing electromagnetic wave between the cloud and the ground.
At a certain point on one of the wave sections, there is a breakdown of air, a critical electrical voltage that provokes a gas charge. In this case, the ball lightning has its magnetic field that holds the plasma inside the sphere.
There are other theories of globular lightning origin. Some researchers see it as a water bubble with positively and negatively charged air ions inside, which are attracted to each other after an electrical discharge.
Another version is the thermochemical reaction of water molecules. And someone compares the electric sphere with an aerogel, but instead of a solid frame, lightning is formed from the plasma threads.
Ball Lightning Facts
- They come in different colors, such as yellowish or greenish. But most often observed dazzling white.
- Ball lightning bolts behave unpredictably, like a living creature. Some even assume that they have a mind.
- The speed of the ball lightning movement in space can reach 10 meters per second.
- Sometimes they disappear, and sometimes even explode, destroying everything around.
- By touching the glass, a lighting ball can melt it.
- Of all natural phenomena on Earth, ball lightning is still the least studied.
- Witnesses have repeatedly observed how they purposefully penetrated into buildings through open windows and doors. That is why it is highly desirable to lock them in a storm. The reason for their behavior is unknown.
- Scientists have calculated that the energy density of ball lightning, taking into account its volume, reaches some completely unrealistic values.
- Most often, they appear in thunderstorms, together with the usual lightning, but they were also observed in other conditions, such as in the middle of a clear day.
- In 1963, in the U.S., regular lightning struck the plane, after the ball lightning leaked into the cabin in an unknown manner. However, it disappeared as quickly as it appeared without causing any harm.
- Their size varies from case to case, but according to information from witnesses, they usually range from 10 to 20 cm in diameter.
- Presumably, the life span of ball lightning can vary from a few seconds to several hours.