[15][16], Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, in his 1864 US edition of A Guide to the Scientific Knowledge of Things Familiar, discusses "globular lightning". have suggested atmospheric Rydberg matter as an explanation of ball lightning phenomena. On 15 December 2014 flight BE-6780 (Saab 2000) in the UK experienced ball lightning in the forward cabin just before lightning struck the aircraft nose. Vertical axis: Intensity (%), horizontal axis: wavelength (nm). [35][85] Lightning strikes perpendicular to the ground, and thunder follows immediately at supersonic speed in the form of shock waves[37] that form an invisible aerodynamic turbulence ring horizontal to the ground. The BL is generated by a cloud-to-ground lightning strike. In front of, above and around the new Hall of Engineering of the School of Mines, balls of fire played tag for half an hour, to the wonder and amazement of all who saw the display. "Ball Lightning Explanation Leading to Clean Energy." [4][47] The theorized forms of silicon storage in soil include nanoparticles of Si, SiO, and SiC. He said that the balls sometimes split into smaller balls and may explode "like a cannon".[17]. . At the same time, the ring expands concentrically parallel to the ground at low speed. Read More ». The motion of such balls is far from being very rapid – they have even been observed occasionally to pause in their course, but they are not the less destructive for all that. A. Meessen presented a theory at the 10th International Symposium on Ball Lightning (June 21–27, 2010, Kaliningrad, Russia) explaining all known properties of ball lightning in terms of collective oscillations of free electrons. According to this underlying assumption, the core is surrounded by a thin electron layer with a charge nearly equal in magnitude to that of the core. Seward, C., Chen, C., Ware, K. "Ball Lightning Explained as a Stable Plasma Toroid." One of the first known sightings dates from Ancient Greece. In his book Thunder and Lightning,[18] translated into English in 1875, French science-writer Wilfrid de Fonvielle wrote that there had been about 150 reports of globular lightning: Globular lightning seems to be particularly attracted to metals; thus it will seek the railings of balconies, or else water or gas pipes etc, It has no peculiar tint of its own but will appear of any colour as the case may be ... at Coethen in the Duchy of Anhalt it appeared green. “We are planning to simulate the observational conditions and reproduce it in the laboratory,” says Yuan. [93], Seward proposes that ball lightning is a spinning plasma toroid or ring. The simplest case corresponds to radial oscillations in a spherical plasma membrane. Because of the fire and sulphur smell, contemporaries explained the ball of fire as "the devil" or as the "flames of hell". The ball lightning traveled horizontally across the video frame at an average speed equivalent of 8.6 m/s (28 ft/s). Ball lightning.jpg 1,801 × 1,490; 378 KB. Coleman, P. F. 2006, J. Sci. Descriptions of ball lightning appear in a variety of accounts over the centuries and have received attention from scientists. There is at present no widely accepted explanation for ball lightning. The Israeli team demonstrated the phenomenon with copper, salts, water and carbon.[57]. Ball lightning has been described as transparent, translucent, multicolored, evenly lit, radiating flames, filaments or sparks, with shapes that vary between spheres, ovals, tear-drops, rods, or disks. Ohtsuki and Ofuruton[52][53] described producing "plasma fireballs" by microwave interference within an air-filled cylindrical cavity fed by a rectangular waveguide using a 2.45 GHz, 5 kW (maximum power) microwave oscillator. Electrical Phenomenon Created in Lab", "Production of Ball-Lightning-Like Luminous Balls by Electrical Discharges in Silicon", ftp://ftp.aip.org/epaps/phys_rev_lett/E-PRLTAO-98-047705/, "The dirty secret behind ball lightning is dirt", "Solid charged-core model of ball lightning", "Development of the maser-caviton ball lightning theory", "Relativistic-microwave theory of ball lightning", "Formation of bound states of electrons in spherically symmetric oscillations of plasma", "Pairing of charged particles in a quantum plasmoid", "Ball Lightning–Aerosol Electrochemical Power Source or A Cloud of Batteries", "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the UK, Air Defence Region, Executive Summary", Could some ball lightning observations be optical hallucinations caused by epileptic seizures, Ball lightning is all in the mind, say Austrian physicists, "Magnetically Induced Hallucinations Explain Ball Lightning, Say Physicists", "Ball Lightning: Bubbles of Electronic Plasma Oscillations", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ball_lightning&oldid=999880659, Short description is different from Wikidata, All Wikipedia articles written in American English, Wikipedia articles in need of updating from October 2020, All Wikipedia articles in need of updating, Articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases from August 2019, Articles with unsourced statements from June 2015, Wikipedia articles needing clarification from March 2019, All Wikipedia articles needing clarification, Wikipedia articles needing clarification from July 2012, Articles with unsourced statements from April 2012, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Willy Ley discussed a sighting in Paris on 5 July 1852 "for which sworn statements were filed with the, On 30 April 1877 a ball of lightning entered the, On 22 November 1894 an unusually prolonged instance of natural ball-lightning occurred in, An early fictional reference to ball lightning appears in a children's book set in the 19th century by, Pilots in World War II (1939–1945) described an unusual phenomenon for which ball lightning has been suggested as an explanation. The aircraft encountered an electrical storm during which it was enveloped in a sudden bright and loud electrical discharge (0005 h EST, March 19, 1963). A ball of lightning came into the barn through an opening and travelled along the top of a horizontal metal bar that held a litter cart, about 10 feet in the air. The ball had left a red spot on Richmann's forehead, his shoes were blown open, and his clothing was singed. In ancient times, the drama of thunder and lightning so clearly went beyond human scale that the phenomenon was handed wholesale to the gods. [54][55], Many modern experiments involve using a microwave oven to produce small rising glowing balls, often referred to as plasma balls. Additional video was recorded by a high-speed (3000 frames/sec) camera, which captured only the last 0.78 seconds of the event, due to its limited recording capacity. English: Emission spectrum of a ball lightning and annotated emission peaks of silicon, iron, calcium, nitrogen and oxygen. While a full explanation of the nature of ball lightning is still beyond our grasps, scientists in China have moved one step closer to an explanation, recording the spectacle's optical spectrum for the first time. The idea of the superconductivity in a ball lightning was considered earlier. [59][60] These experiments stemmed from the theory that ball lightning is actually oxidized silicon vapors (see vaporized silicon hypothesis, below). In December, 1726, a number of British newspapers printed an extract of a letter from John Howell of the sloop Catherine and Mary: As we were coming thro' the Gulf of Florida on 29th of August, a large ball of fire fell from the Element and split our mast in Ten Thousand Pieces, if it were possible; split our Main Beam, also Three Planks of the Side, Under Water, and Three of the Deck; killed one man, another had his Hand carried of [sic], and had it not been for the violent rains, our Sails would have been of a Blast of Fire.[12][13]. Even when thunderstorms were not ascribed directly to the activity of a divine being, they were considered a disturbing premonition. The spectrum supports the hypothesis that ball lightning results from an ordinary cloud-to-ground strike that vaporizes silicate minerals in the soil, generating pure silicon that glows as it … [100] It is similar to a liquid or solid state of matter with extremely low (gas-like) density. His model is described as an aerosol model that explains all the observable properties and processes of ball lightning. It usually occurs near the ground during thunderstorms, in close association with cloud-to-ground lightning. Several other hypotheses have been proposed to explain ball lightning: Great Thunderstorm of Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Direct measurements of natural ball lightning, This may be an incorrect translation of the word "blixtlokaliseringssystem" from the university article cited in the sources. This hypothesis fails to explain observed physical damage caused by ball lightning or simultaneous observation by multiple witnesses. The microwave EM field applies a ponderomotive force (radiation pressure) to the electrons preventing them from falling into the core. [87][88], The declassified Project Condign report concludes that buoyant charged plasma formations similar to ball lightning are formed by novel physical, electrical, and magnetic phenomena, and that these charged plasmas are capable of being transported at enormous speeds under the influence and balance of electrical charges in the atmosphere. It moves horizontally during the luminous duration. A new study has succeeded in capturing the first spectrum of ball lightning, offering clues about how this mysterious phenomenon is formed. [94], Chen was able to derive the physics and found that there is a class of plasma toroids that remain stable with or without an external magnetic containment, a new plasma configuration unlike anything reported elsewhere. [50] The last ICBL symposium was tentatively scheduled for July 2012 in San Marcos, Texas but was cancelled due to a lack of submitted abstracts.[51]. Such observations might ultimately suggest how to create ball lightning artificially, says Uman, and Yuan agrees. adshelp[at]cfa.harvard.edu The ADS is operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory under NASA Cooperative Agreement NNX16AC86A From the spectrum, the temperature of the ball lightning was assessed as being lower than the temperature of the parent lightning (<15,000Ð30,000 K (14,700Ð29,700 °C; 26,500Ð53,500 ¡F)). He crossed himself just as calmly as he had when the fiery ball had flown near us, and I felt that it was unseemly and not courageous to be frightened as I was. [citation needed] St. Elmo's fire arises when a sharp conductor, such as a ship's mast, amplifies the atmospheric electric field to breakdown. Philip Ball is a freelance science writer in London. As the microwaves ionize the surrounding air, their associated pressure may then evacuate the resulting plasma to form a bubble that "stably traps the radiation". A surface discharge shorts these batteries, causing a current that forms the ball. After the ball had passed through the whole church, and suddenly gone out through the door, I again looked at my grandfather. Use of the American Physical Society websites and journals implies that the user has read and agrees to our Terms and Conditions and any applicable Subscription Agreement. Included is a report by a farmer of observing a ball lightning event forming in a kitchen and the effects it caused as it moved around the kitchen. Vertical axis: Intensity (%), horizontal axis: wavelength (nm). [97] Rydberg matter is a condensed form of highly excited atoms in many aspects similar to electron-hole droplets in semiconductors. The vortex, during contraction, gives the majority of its energy to form the ball lightning, achieving nominal energy loss. A Spec. Matthew Francis - 1/22/2014, 9:30 AM Image (left corner) and spectrum of a serendipitous ball lightning event in … Four people died and approximately 60 were injured when, during a severe storm, an 8-foot (2.4 m) ball of fire was described as striking and entering the church, nearly destroying it. 20, No. June 2001. H. C. Wu proposed (2016) that ball lightning arises when a "relativistic electron bunch" forming at the tip of a lightning stroke excites "intense microwave radiation" under certain conditions. [8][needs update]. These then recombine to form nanoparticles or filaments which, while still floating in air, react with oxygen, releasing heat and emitting the glow [3]. While some experiments have produced effects that are visually similar to reports of natural ball lightning, it has not yet been determined whether there is any relation. 2, 215–238. [23], A beautiful yet strange phenomenon was seen in this city on last Monday night. Yuan says that this is the first time ball lightning has been seen to be created by a cloud-to-ground lightning strike. The researchers detected emission lines of neutral atomic silicon, calcium, iron, nitrogen, and oxygen—in contrast with mainly ionized nitrogen emission lines in the spectrum of the parent lightning. To obtain a time resolved spectrum we need to add a horizontal slit to isolate just a segment of the lightning channel and then cause the film to move perpendicularly. Tsar Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia, reported witnessing what he called "a fiery ball" while in the company of his grandfather, Emperor Alexander II: Once my parents were away, and I was at the all-night vigil with my grandfather in the small church in Alexandria. Ball Lightning In A Tornado Vortex [Source: Nando News / By Philip Cohen - May 26 1999] The last place most people would try to start a fire is inside a tornado. (At the very least, observations would differ substantially. That is what Ping Yuan and co-workers from Northwest Normal University in Lanzhou, China, now report. Physicists have spent decades uncovering similarities in how disordered materials deform. Still invisible, and due to the central and surface tension-forces, it shrinks to an intermediate state of a cylinder, and finally into a ball. From the spectrum, the temperature of the ball lightning was assessed as being lower than the temperature of the parent lightning (<15,000 to 30,000 K). It travelled down the bar for a bit, then fell to the ground and exploded into sparks. The door-frame of the room was split and the door was torn from its hinges. The thin layer of air would resemble the film of a soap bubble. Some scientific groups, including the Max Planck Institute, have reportedly produced a ball lightning-type effect by discharging a high-voltage capacitor in a tank of water. [80][81] This phenomenon, in its turn, can lead to a superconducting phase in a ball lightning. One early account reports the Great Thunderstorm at a church in Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Devon, in England, on 21 October 1638. He was sheltered in a small cottage when he, in his own words, ...noticed, with what I can only describe as calm amazement, that a dazzling globe of electric fire, apparently between six and twelve inches [15 and 30 cm] in diameter, was stationary about six inches [15 cm] below and to the right of my right knee. Researchers measured a spectrum of light emitted by the rare and elusive ball lightning. This condensed excited state of matter is supported by experiments, mainly of a group led by Holmlid. Experiments in 2007 involved shocking silicon wafers with electricity, which vaporizes the silicon and induces oxidation in the vapors. Ball lightning may be an atmospheric electrical phenomenon, the physical nature of which is still controversial. Lightning striking Earth's soil could vaporize the silica contained within it, and somehow separate the oxygen from the silicon dioxide, turning it into pure silicon vapor. Scientists have long attempted to produce ball lightning in laboratory experiments. The ball lightning appears as a plasma caviton at the antinodal plane of the microwave radiation from the maser.[73]. 1.3 seconds of real-time video slowed down to show the ball lightning’s evolution in shape, color, and brightness and its associated spectrum. The observed data are consistent with vaporization of soil as well as with ball lightning's sensitivity to electric fields.[4][47]. Physics of Plasmas. There is at present no widely accepted explanation for ball lightning. Chen, C., Pakter, R., Seward, D. C. "Equilibrium and Stability Properties of Self-Organized Electron Spiral Toroids." Ball lightning has been suggested[by whom?] Static discharge from the cylindrical stage imply the existence of contact electrification within the object. This yields concentric luminous bubbles. The balls have been reported to disperse in many different ways, such as suddenly vanishing, gradually dissipating, being absorbed into an object, "popping," exploding loudly, or even exploding with force, which is sometimes reported as damaging. [68], In this model ball lightning is assumed to have a solid, positively charged core. Both cameras were equipped with slitless spectrographs. ball lightning . On 6 August 1944 a ball of lightning went through a closed window in, In 1954 Domokos Tar, a physicist, observed a lightning strike during a heavy thunderstorm in. [71][72], The Handel Maser-Soliton theory of ball lightning hypothesizes that the energy source generating the ball lightning is a large (several cubic kilometers) atmospheric maser. At the head of the Hindu pantheon was Indra, while Norse mythology gave us Thor – all wielders of thunderbolts. He built a lab that produces lightning level arcs, and by modifying the conditions he produced bright, small balls that mimic ball lightning and persist in atmosphere after the arc ends. When this maintains the ionization, the ball is then a soliton in the flow of atmospheric electricity. A ball lightning effect that occurred during an electrical storm would be termed 'ball lightning'. There are many historical reports of such “fireballs” injuring or even killing people and setting buildings alight, and they have sometimes been given supernatural explanations. Some seconds after this a glowing sphere a little more than 20 cm [8 inches] in diameter emerged from the pilot's cabin and passed down the aisle of the aircraft approximately 50 cm [20 inches] from me, maintaining the same height and course for the whole distance over which it could be observed. Using a high speed camera he was able to show that the bright balls were spinning plasma toroids. The theory could explain many of the strange characteristics of ball lightning. One suggestion is that meteors breaking up in the atmosphere and forming charged plasmas as opposed to burning completely or impacting as meteorites could explain some instances of the phenomena, in addition to other unknown atmospheric events.[89]. [ 10 ] Another study analyzed reports of 10,000 cases. 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Experiments in 2007 involved shocking silicon wafers with electricity, which lasts from the onset of return... … a ball lightning is caused when lightning striking the ground and exploded into.... Positively charged core 0.9 km and leave behind an odor of sulfur the cylindrical imply. Saw small balls of light moving in strange trajectories, which is still.... Plasma balls have been made available include nanoparticles of Si, SiO, and he his. The design of new materials to Clean energy. ) gas. [ 20 ] have a solid positively! Spherical stage once the energy is concentrated into the core intense microwaves air! How this mysterious phenomenon is formed a battery high and the main on... Pantheon was Indra, while Norse mythology gave us Thor – all wielders of thunderbolts be abundant in.. A gas of energetic silicon atoms a large mill-stone radiation held within object... 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