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Globular lightning ∴ Natural physical phenomenon?

Globular lightning | A team of Australian researchers discovered believes that because of the strange fireballs that sometimes occur during electrical storms – globular lightning, of which there are hundreds of testimonies, but who had not so far had found a satisfactory explanation.
Globular lightning is a rare occurrence; Appear in the form of bright spheres, usually of the size of a grapefruit, and last up to 20 seconds.

They have been known for hundreds of years and there are numerous testimonies about their occurrence, but their cause remains a mystery. Microwave radiations, oxidized aerosols, nuclear energy, black matter, antimatter, even black holes have been proposed as causes; A recent hypothesis suggests that it is a burning silicon after it has been vaporized by a lightning strike.

A group of researchers from the CSIRO and the Australian National University published in the Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres a study in which it is developing a new theory.

They started from the observation that globular flares usually appear near the windows, at the windows of the houses or in the airplane cabins.

Globular lightning

Ball lightning has been reported to appear during thunderstorms as a glow for centuries. Pictured is a 1901 depiction of ball lightning

After hitting the ground, the lightning strikes back a stream of electrically charged particles (ions). In most cases, these positive or negative ions are recombined immediately. The particles remaining in the ion state descend to the ground.

Australian researchers believe that such ions can accumulate on the outside of non-conductive surfaces, such as windows. These accumulated ions can produce an electric field that can pass through the glass. The electric field gives the electrons on the inside of the glass enough energy to displace electrons from the surrounding air molecules while releasing the photons that create the light sphere.

This is, say the authors, the first study that provides a mathematical solution that explains the appearance of a globular lightning.

The next step will be to use this theory to reproduce a globular lightning in the laboratory. Could be difficult, I think researchers because it would require equipment capable of producing 100 million volts. But the testimony of an American pilot who witnessed the emergence of a globular lightning from the aircraft’s radar equipment in the airplane cabin suggests that even existing equipment on the market can produce enough voltage to generate lightning globular.

In the Bible, lightning and thunder are considered a message by which God manifests mania. For the Etruscans, the lightning was an oracle predicting their future, and the old Germans saw in this phenomenon a sign of the god Thor throwing his hammer on Earth. Scientifically speaking, in 1752, Benjamin Franklin demonstrated for the first time that lightning is the result of the tension between the clouds and Earth, and this is a very important starting point for lightning research.

Globular lightning, Black light or “invisible lightning”


Researchers at the Florida Institute of Technology describe the “black lightning,” as a colleague (Joseph Dwyer) called it an unusual phenomenon: powerful radiation pulses that are invisible. Scientists specializing in studying lightning have discovered that during storms, besides lightning, X-rays and even gamma rays are released into the atmosphere, a form of associated radiation, usually with cosmic events and nuclear explosions.

Globular lightning

Scientists have observed ball lightning for the first time in nature. Pictured is the spectrum of a cloud-to-ground lightning strike and of the ball lightning, it generated. The ball lightning is the white dot at the far left, and its spectrum is the slightly brighter band of colors at the foot of the irregularly shaped main lighting spectrum

Unlike ordinary lightning, says Dwyer, people can be hit by black lightning without feeling. He also warns that it is possible in a second for people to be hit by a dose of ionizing radiation equal to the dose accumulated throughout their lives. The black light was discovered in an unexpected way. Wishing to find out what causes the usual lightning (not yet fully known), scientists have begun to measure the storm radiation. To their surprise, they noticed X-rays and gamma rays.

Globular lightning

The phenomenon of ball lightning has generally been described as being a luminous sphere that appears during or after a thunderstorm. Some theories suggest ball lightning, pictured, is a plasma, others that it is the result of a chemiluminescent process – light that occurs due to a chemical reaction

Another researcher, J.Eric Grove at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, suggests that storms could produce far more powerful gamma-ray flash than Dwyer’s theory confirms, but as shown by additional data obtained with a sensor on the Space Telescope Fermi, will provide more information. “We need more experiments to truly understand this phenomenon,” said the same scientist. Until then, the black and globular lightning continues to remain a mystery.



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Le Minh Hieu is a national-level weightlifter and a Singapore Weightlifting sports performance coach. Hieu's biggest passion is helping everyone find confidence, happiness, and health through fitness.


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