On Monday, Nick Gemayel was seated at his office desk in his Rochester, New York auto repair shop when he saw a bright flash spark from a light switch and heard a loud crack. Then he realized that his hand hurt like hell was blistered. A co-worker reported that he had seen lightning strike the building. It apparently arced from the light switch into Gemayel. Hospital doctors treated and released him. No word yet on what superpowers he may now have.
(Associated Press) Read the rest
Graduate student Jason Ahrns captured a stunning image of red sprites over Nebraska while aboard a plane chartered by the National Center for Atmospheric Research. And behold Scott McPartland's rare video of the phenomenon in May. Read the rest
Take that, you wicked telephone pole. (@Alby)
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In this video from the Florida Institute of Technology, professor Ningyu Liu at the Geospace Physics Laboratory "caught a beautiful lightning show from a recent storm. It’s recorded at 7000 frames per second and the playback speed is 700 frames per second." Read the rest
January 30 was Nick Panayiotou's lucky day. He was standing in a boat shed in Sydney, Australia’s Oyster Bay filming the storm outside when...
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Meteorologist Cedric Haynes of East Texas station KLTV tweeted this amazing video recorded by a surveillance cam at Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Catholic School in Tyler, Texas.
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Motorists behind the cyclist saw lightning strike his helmet. Dazed, the gentleman pulled over and then rode on to look for assistance.
Via Fox KTPV:
Firefighters said, at that point, he got back on his bike and kept on riding. The man took Exit 76 into Chehalis, where he stopped at a convenience store and asked for help.
I don't think he was going very far.
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Rod. His name is actually Rod. Read the rest
Have you ever been on a plane during a thunderstorm that experienced a direct lightning strike? While most commercial airliner will do their best to avoid thunderclouds delivering the wrath of the atmosphere, it's estimated that every plane in the U.S. is struck more than once per year.
Large commercial planes are equipped to route the electrical current from a lightning strike so that it avoids sensitive electronics, and most passengers may not even realize that a plane has been struck when it does occur. However, the electrical current and loud clap of thunder are not all that is produced by a bolt of lightning. It's only within the past 20 years that research has confirmed that lightning also emits x-rays and gamma-rays.
One source of x-rays is normal lightning, under normal atmospheric pressure that occurs near the ground. These x-rays are measured at strengths analogous to the energy range commonly emitted by CT scanning devices used in the health care industry. Then there are gamma-rays, high energy x-rays usually seen emitted by particle accelerators, exploding stars, and black holes, that have been detected as a continuous kind of glow within clouds. Additionally, a separate class of gamma-rays, called terrestrial gamma-ray flashes or TGFs, are even more powerful, brief bursts that can be seen by spacecraft and satellites in low earth orbit. TGFs are the most energetic phenomena on the planet, and are thought to be caused by intracloud lightning (lightning that occurs between clouds). TGFs appear all over the world where there are thunderstorms, but nobody understands exactly why or how. Read the rest
Lightning caught in the act by BB pal Scott Matthews on Captiva Island, Florida, looking west over the Gulf of Mexico. Read the rest
A moving truck is struck by lightning in Alberta, Canada. The couple inside were rescued by police, according to ABC News. Read the rest
Just hours after Pope Benedict XVI quit, a lightning bolt struck St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Yeah, yeah, lightning probably strikes the church on days when the pope hasn't resigned too. But it's more fun to ignore that as you appreciate this. (The Guardian) Read the rest
Here's a story that combines two favorite bits of volcano news into one interesting discovery. You know those great, freaky photos of volcanic lightning? (In case you don't, I've got one posted above.) Remember how the Icelandic volcanic eruptions totally screwed up everybody's airplane travel plans?
Apparently, studying volcanic lightning could lead to better eruption detection systems that could make it easier to predict how big a plume of ash off that volcano will be—knowledge that can help airlines and travelers be better prepared. At Nature, Richard Monastersky reports:
The researchers found that the amount of lightning correlated with the height of the plume, something they could not test using more limited data collected during an eruption at Alaska’s Mount St Augustine in 2006. This observation is important, says Behnke, because systems to monitor lightning could provide an estimate for the size of an eruption, which is not always easy to assess for remote volcanoes.
During a previous eruption at Mount Redoubt in 1989 and 1990, for example, the size of the plume wasn’t known and a plane nearly crashed after passing through the ash cloud and temporarily losing all power from its engines. Behnke and her colleagues suggest that VHF stations similar to the ones they installed at Mount Redoubt could be used to monitor volcanoes to give early warning of an eruption and an estimate of its size.
Read the rest at Nature.com
Via Graham Farmelo
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Electrical engineer Greg Leyh built the giant Tesla coil in this video, and wants to construct an even larger version: Two 10-story-high towers that would send lightning zinging across an area the length of a football field. New Scientist interviewed Leyh, to find out what the point of this is (besides the obvious inherent awesomeness):
Lightning can break down air up to five times more easily than normal electric arcs [between two oppositely charged rods in the lab], using tricks we don't yet understand. However, recent theories and a few tantalising experimental results suggest that normal arcs start to gain lightning-like abilities once they grow past about 60 metres in length. If we can build a machine this large, we'll very quickly arrive at a better understanding of what's going on.
A couple of weeks ago, Pesco pointed out that you can actually donate money towards making this project happen. Double awesome! Read the rest