Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Thunderstorm Research Shocks Conventional Theories; Florida Tech Physicist Throws Open Debate On Lightning's Cause

Date:
November 6, 2003
Source:
Florida Institute Of Technology
Summary:
If Joseph Dwyer, Florida Tech associate professor of physics, is right, then a lot of what we thought we knew about thunderstorms and lightning is probably wrong.

Melbourne, Fla. – If Joseph Dwyer, Florida Tech associate professor of physics, is right, then a lot of what we thought we knew about thunderstorms and lightning is probably wrong.

In the latest issue of Geophysical Research Letters, the National Science Foundation CAREER Award winner caps two years of lightning research with a startling conclusion: The conditions inside thunderstorms that were long thought necessary to produce lightning actually do not exist in nature.

"For generations, we've believed that in order to produce a lightning discharge, the electric fields inside storms must be very big, similar to the fields that cause you to be shocked when you touch a metal doorknob," said Dwyer.

The problem is scientists have searched inside thunderstorms for many years, looking for these large electric fields, only to come up empty handed. Some researchers have suggested that maybe we haven't been looking hard enough; maybe the big electric fields are really there, but they were somehow just missed. Now, Dwyer's new theory shows that these searches were actually in vain; super-sized fields simply don't exist, period.

"What we've discovered is a new limit in nature. Just as a bucket can only hold so much water, the atmosphere can only hold a certain sized electric field. Beyond that, the electric field is stunted by the rapid creation of gamma-rays and a form of anti-matter called positrons," he said.

While Dwyer's research shows that lightning is not produced by large, unseen electric fields inside storms, the triggering mechanism remains a mystery.

"Although everyone is familiar with lightning, we still don't know much about how it really works," said Dwyer.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Florida Institute Of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Florida Institute Of Technology. "Thunderstorm Research Shocks Conventional Theories; Florida Tech Physicist Throws Open Debate On Lightning's Cause." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 November 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031106051013.htm>.
Florida Institute Of Technology. (2003, November 6). Thunderstorm Research Shocks Conventional Theories; Florida Tech Physicist Throws Open Debate On Lightning's Cause. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031106051013.htm
Florida Institute Of Technology. "Thunderstorm Research Shocks Conventional Theories; Florida Tech Physicist Throws Open Debate On Lightning's Cause." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031106051013.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins