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New ball lightning theory

Discussion in 'Misc Electronics' started by [email protected], Mar 31, 2005.

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  1. Guest

    Hi group.

    I had an interesting idea that perhaps the reason why science has yet
    to duplicate the anomalous long lifetime of natural ball lightning is
    simply that the scale is wrong.

    As has been seen in the various attempts to build fusion plants, large
    toroidal plasmas seem to be inherently unstable, requiring continuous
    correction and current/magnetic field application to keep them stable.

    Therefore, it would seem unlikely that such a structure could exist in
    air, in the presence of oxygen atoms and other gases.

    My idea is that ball lightning is in fact a cluster of microscopic
    (<1mm) plasma toroids held together by their electrostatic attraction
    but kept from merging by their rotation and magnetic moment.

    They are produced during the return stroke from a powerful lightning
    bolt by the interaction between the collapsing plasma channel and its
    surrounding magnetic field.

    Each plasma toroid is a discrete and separate entity, and therefore the
    ball can collide with objects yet not dissipate, as has been observed.
    Additionally, being so small these toroids can find their way through
    the majority of structures (window frames, under doors, through
    keyholes, etc) and reform on the other side.

    If there are a large enough quantity of these toroids then they might
    vapourise a small hole in the glass/metal, through which the rest will
    then rush through in much the same way that a crowd of people pass
    through a single open doorway.

    This theory also explains the apparently random motion of ball
    lightning, as the motion of the cluster would resemble a lightning
    "leader" following air currents and eddies, as well as responding to
    local magnetic fields.

    It also explains how ball lightning can "explode" causing damage. Each
    one of these toroids may hold a small portion of the overall energy,
    and when they begin to destabilise, a "chain reaction" may take place
    where the decay of some leads to a criticality event and a sudden
    energy release. This is toroid-density dependent which explains how
    some "fizzle out" causing no damage.

    Feel free to comment :)

  2. I think more lightly ball lightning is mostly either of these:

    1. Afterimages of a bright spot where lightning hits - such as a spot
    where metal or salts vaporize. Or an afterimage of a "bright spot" caused
    by a segment of lightning stroke being nearly parallel to your line of

    2. Drops of molten metal falling from where lightning hits. Molten metal
    does not wet most nonmetallic materials and sometimes fails to wet
    metallic objects, so drops of molten metal roll along things very easily.
    It is fairly common for drops of molten metal to only mildly and/or
    intermittently scorch things they roll over if they move fast enough. And
    they can be fairly large due to the high surface tension of many molten
    metals. In addition, sometimes aluminum can burn in a manner like that of
    magnesium, and is at least sometimes more easily ignited by an arc than by
    a flame.

    - Don Klipstein ()
  3. worldcitizen

    worldcitizen Guest

    I've heard of ball lightning being seen around the large bank of
    storage batterys that were used in WWII submarines and I have seen a
    moving picture on tv of an experiment to make ball lightning where they
    were trying to reproduce the battery effect and had an explosion of the
    battery gasses which was caught on high speed camera where they showed
    about 5 or 6 very small balls of what may be lightning about an inch
    or two in diameter bouncing across the floor. Does this tie in with
    what you are saying?
  4. Jerry G.

    Jerry G. Guest

    You sound like your involved in some heavy physics. A number of years
    ago, I read some similar theories. About 15 years ago, I had the
    experience of seening ball lightning. It was an interesting thing to

    Jerry G.
  5. Guest

    Cool! what did it look like/lifetime/etc?

    re. the post about submarines. It would certainly make sense, the
    smaller balls might be a lower energy version produced by spinning
    metal plasma blobs held together by electrostatics, instead of
    full-blown pm=lasma toroid clusters.

  6. worldcitizen

    worldcitizen Guest

    They were small and fast moving and lasted less than a second. Since
    the pictures were taken with a high speed camera it is hard to say
    exactly without knowing the frame speed of the camera. The actual run
    time of the images was about 3 or 4 seconds and the balls were
    deflected off the concrete floor at about a 10 or 15 degree angle and
    were traveling at a high speed. The distance that was observed in the
    video that they traveled was maybe 20 or 30 feet before passing out of
    camera view. One ball in particular (the largest one) bounced only
    once and about 15 feet from the camera and when it got out of view it
    was maybe 3 feet off the ground. With such a limited amount of
    information it is even possible that what was photographed was some
    burning "shrapnel". I can't say for sure but in the program that it
    was shown on they presented it as ball lightning.
    Hope this helps.
  7. Jerry G.

    Jerry G. Guest

    I was about 120 miles north of Montreal. It was during the summer, right
    after a heavy thunder shower. I stopped at a dining place to have some
    lunch. The area had a very strong smell of ozone, probably because of the
    heavy thunder showers.

    I happened to look up and saw a sort of glowing circle of light. It was not
    very bright. It appeared to be like a transparent reddish blue ball. There
    appeared to also maybe have some traces of some yellow and green in it. The
    colour seemed to vary a little as if it was unstable. I would think that
    most of the colour that I saw was from reflections or just the ambient light
    in the area. This ball lasted about maybe 20 to 30 seconds if that long at
    all. It seemed to float towards some power lines near to a telephone poll.
    At that point it simply faded or vanished.

    I know of someone else who also has seen ball lightning. He was over in
    Europe when he saw this.

    I know of a story that someone had one come in to his house through an
    opened window. It floated around in his kitchen for about 30 seconds, and
    then disappears with a sort of snapping noise.

    Was these some type of electrical build-up from charges that were in the
    air? Each time these occurred, it was right after severe thunder showers.
  8. Dave Baker

    Dave Baker Guest

    When I was in the Air Force, one of my technicians made ball lightning

    We had these massive power supplies - called Invertrons if I remember
    correctly. Can't really remember what they did, but they had 3 phase input &
    3 phase output, and each phase had 40 high power transistors on a massive
    heatsink. I think it created very clean 3 phase power.

    Anyway, one of the techs was replacing a transistor - they died reasonably
    regularly. When putting it back in the 19" rack he wired the input to the
    output & vice-versa.

    At turn-on, a ball of lightning about the size of a tennis ball came straight
    out of the front panel & floated around in the air a little for about 5 to 10
    seconds, in front of about 5 technicians including some of the bosses. Quite

    The mistake also blew out all 120 power transistors which took quite a
    rebuild! :)


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    All replies to the group please.
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