Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Goodness, gracious, great balls of lightning!

Date:
October 19, 2012
Source:
CSIRO Australia
Summary:
Australian scientists have unveiled a new theory which explains the mysterious phenomenon known as ball lightning.

Sightings of balls of lightning have been made for centuries around the world -- usually the size of a grapefruit and lasting up to twenty seconds -- but no explanation of how it occurs has been universally accepted by science.
Credit: Image courtesy of CSIRO Australia

Australian scientists have unveiled a new theory which explains the mysterious phenomenon known as ball lightning.

Sightings of balls of lightning have been made for centuries around the world -- usually the size of a grapefruit and lasting up to twenty seconds -- but no explanation of how it occurs has been universally accepted by science. Even more mysterious are sightings of balls of lightning forming on glass and appearing in homes and in airplanes.

CSIRO scientist John Lowke has been studying ball lightning since the sixties. He's never seen it, but has spoken to eye witnesses and in a new scientific paper, he gives the first mathematical solution explaining the birth of ball lightning -- and how it can pass through glass.

Previous theories have cited microwave radiation from thunderclouds, oxidizing aerosols, nuclear energy, dark matter, antimatter, and even black holes as possible causes. Lowke disputes these theories.

He proposes ball lightning is caused when leftover ions (electric energy), which are very dense, are swept to the ground following a lightning strike. As for how they pass through glass, he says this is a result of a stream of ions accumulating on the outside of a glass window and the resulting electric field on the other side excites air molecules to form a ball discharge.

According to Lowke ball lightning is rare, but it has been witnessed in Australia many times. People just don't realize what it is when they see it.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CSIRO Australia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

CSIRO Australia. "Goodness, gracious, great balls of lightning!." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121019102800.htm>.
CSIRO Australia. (2012, October 19). Goodness, gracious, great balls of lightning!. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121019102800.htm
CSIRO Australia. "Goodness, gracious, great balls of lightning!." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121019102800.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) — With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) 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