If you can read this, either the style sheet didn't load or you have an older browser that doesn't support style sheets. Try clearing your browser cache and refreshing the page.

(Phys Org2)   Goodness gracious, great balls of lightning   (phys.org) divider line 29
    More: Interesting, lightning, CSIRO, Journal of Geophysical Research, National University of Ireland, cumulonimbus, electric fields, dark matter, John Lowke  
•       •       •

4105 clicks; posted to Geek » on 12 Oct 2012 at 1:09 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



29 Comments   (+0 »)
   
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest

Archived thread
 
2012-10-12 01:20:35 PM  
Balls of lightning would be cool. Scary, but cool. I've heard of it before but never seen it.
 
2012-10-12 01:26:03 PM  
If I understand that correctly, windows are shooting out Hadokens.
 
2012-10-12 01:50:27 PM  
If we could find a place where these reliably occur, I would sit in a rain storm for a day or night at a safe distance to view it.
 
2012-10-12 02:06:00 PM  

cgraves67: If we could find a place where these reliably occur, I would sit in a rain storm for a day or night at a safe distance to view it.


Ball lightning and St. Elmo's Fire are on the top of the list of natural phenomena I want to see but they're probably impossible to arrange. Already checked off moon halo, earthquake, volcanic eruption, and glacier calving. Next on my list, solar eclipse and luminescent plankton.
 
2012-10-12 02:13:26 PM  
You can make ball lightning in a microwave. Google it.

/subby
 
2012-10-12 02:13:57 PM  
Lowke used eye-witness accounts of ball lightning by two former US Air Force pilots to verify the theory. Former US Air Force lieutenant Don Smith recalls: "After flying for about 15 minutes, there developed on the randome (radar cover) two horns of Saint Elmo's fire. It looked as if the airplane now had bull's horns...they were glowing with the blue of electricity."

That sounds really metal.
 
2012-10-12 02:26:46 PM  

To The Escape Zeppelin!: cgraves67: If we could find a place where these reliably occur, I would sit in a rain storm for a day or night at a safe distance to view it.

Ball lightning and St. Elmo's Fire are on the top of the list of natural phenomena I want to see but they're probably impossible to arrange. Already checked off moon halo, earthquake, volcanic eruption, and glacier calving. Next on my list, solar eclipse and luminescent plankton.


Bioluminescent plankton isn't too hard. Go somewhere tropical, at night in a place with no artificial lights, preferably during the summer but definitely when the wind is still, and throw a rock into the water. If it's really dark, you might see something. Assuming the wind is calm you can see it at low levels practically every summer night in the Keys, but there are definitely blooms where it's amazing. I recommend kayaking during a bloom, it's like paddling with lightsabers.
 
2012-10-12 02:29:39 PM  
I was completely fascinated by ball lightning (and all other types of lightning) when I was a kid. Always wanted to see it myself.

Thing is, we've gotten to the point where most people are carrying a video camera (aka smartphone) most of the time. We've got endless footage of all the other rare, transient weather events -- nearby lightning strikes, tornadoes, power-line hits, giant hail, and so on.

Where are all the ball lightning photos and videos?

I'm thinking that ball lightning, as commonly described and discussed, doesn't really exist. My money is on persistence-of-vision effects stemming from bright, nearby strikes; that would explain the movement patterns observers most commonly describe. That, and the excitement/confusion that results from a close call with lightning.

But I'd still be very, very happy to learn I'm wrong.
 
2012-10-12 02:39:30 PM  
I for one look forward to my purchase of the "Tesla Lighting Ball projector" in the near future. patent pending.
 
2012-10-12 02:57:39 PM  
Ball lightning is fake.
Link

image.blingee.com


/Suckas
 
2012-10-12 04:42:22 PM  

jfarkinB:
Where are all the ball lightning photos and videos?

I'm thinking that ball lightning, as commonly described and discussed, doesn't really exist. My money is on persistence-of-vision effects stemming from bright, nearby strikes; that would explain the movement patterns observers most commonly describe. That, and the excitement/confusion that results from a close call with lightning.

But I'd still be very, very happy to learn I'm wrong.


Here you go, a few videos :

Youtube
Youtube
youtube
 
2012-10-12 06:03:44 PM  
Is it possible that the small orbs some people take for proof of paranormal activity are scaled down versions of the larger ball lighting? Most of the tools you see on ghost hunting shows track electromagnetic phenomenon... maybe they're recording real science and just getting their conclusions wrong?
 
2012-10-12 06:32:51 PM  

To The Escape Zeppelin!: cgraves67: If we could find a place where these reliably occur, I would sit in a rain storm for a day or night at a safe distance to view it.

Ball lightning and St. Elmo's Fire are on the top of the list of natural phenomena I want to see but they're probably impossible to arrange. Already checked off moon halo, earthquake, volcanic eruption, and glacier calving. Next on my list, solar eclipse and luminescent plankton.


Add Fireball (or Bolide) to your list. I saw one of these during the day in Montana in the 70s.

/I can also check off earthquake.
//Jealous of your volcanic eruption, glacier and moon halo
/// No ball lightning yet, either.
 
2012-10-12 09:05:26 PM  
"The stovepipe sharply rattled. Laura looked up and screamed, "Ma! The house is on fire!" A long ball of fire was rolling down the stovepipe. It was bigger than Ma's ball of yarn. It rolled across the floor as Ma sprang up. She snatched her skirts up and stamped on it. But it seemed to jump through her foot, and it rolled to the knitting needles she had dropped. Ma tried to brush it into the ashpan. It ran in front of her knitting needles, but it followed the needles back. Another ball of fire had rolled down the stovepipe, and another. They rolled across the floor after the knitting needles and did not burn the floor."

On the Banks of Plum Creek - Laura Ingalls Wilder

/thank you radioastronomer
 
2012-10-12 11:42:08 PM  

runner_one: Here you go, a few videos :


Video 1: Interesting, but not enough detail to be convincing, at least to me.

Video 2: A spot in the sky -- could be just about anything.

Video 3: Somebody mashed up a bunch of UFO footage with new captions, and some footage of burning metal bits skittering across the floor.

Maybe I just need to recalibrate my expectations -- most amateur footage of bolides is pretty poor, too. But, come on! Where are the security cam videos from multiple angles? Where are the shots showing it drifting in the near range (not just as an unscaled dot in the sky)? Where are the ones that show its shape? (I know, I know, bright things will always show up as overexposed blobs -- but it isn't always described as dazzlingly bright.)
 
2012-10-13 12:19:59 AM  
When I was a kid I was sure I saw some. But then I wondered if I wasn't influenced by stuff I read at the time.

www.bedetheque.com
 
2012-10-13 12:38:08 AM  
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Thunderstorm

The Great Thunderstorm of Widecombe-in-the-Moor in Dartmoor, Kingdom of England, took place on Sunday, 21 October 1638, when the church of St Pancras was apparently struck by ball lightning during a severe thunderstorm. An afternoon service was taking place at the time, and the building was packed with approximately 300 worshippers. Four of them were killed, around 60 injured, and the building severely damaged.

Written accounts by eyewitnesses, apparently published within months of the catastrophe,[1] tell of a strange darkness, powerful thunder, and "a great ball of fire" ripping through a window and tearing part of the roof open. It is said to have rebounded through the church, killing some members of the congregation and burning many others. This is considered by some to be one of the earliest recorded instances of ball lightning.

The priest, George Lyde, was unhurt, but his wife "had her ruff and the linen next her body, and her body, burnt in a very pitiful manner". The head of local warrener Robert Mead struck a pillar so hard that it left an indentation; his skull was shattered, and his brain hurled to the ground. A "one Master Hill a Gentleman of good account in the Parish" was thrown violently against a wall and died "that night". His son, sitting next to him, was unhurt.

Some are said to have suffered burns to their bodies, but not their clothes. A dog is reported to have run out of the door, been hurled around as if by a small tornado, and fallen dead to the ground.
 

So, does that explanation include this sort of phenomenon? I didn't see anything about that in TFA.
 
2012-10-13 09:51:04 AM  

Zeno-25: So, does that explanation include this sort of phenomenon?


If by "phenomenon" you mean "confused centuries-old eyewitness accounts", then no, it probably doesn't.
 
2012-10-13 11:03:57 AM  
 
2012-10-13 04:39:12 PM  

To The Escape Zeppelin!: Next on my list, solar eclipse and luminescent plankton.


Never saw an active volcano or glacial calving, but have seen all the others. Also, you might want to add to your list a parhelion.

Luminescent plankton are beautiful, especially if you're on a night dive with the lights off.
 
2012-10-13 04:45:29 PM  

darthdrafter: Is it possible that the small orbs some people take for proof of paranormal activity are scaled down versions of the larger ball lighting? Most of the tools you see on ghost hunting shows track electromagnetic phenomenon... maybe they're recording real science and just getting their conclusions wrong?


No. "Orbs" are just dust specks reflecting light. I can't believe anyone takes them seriously.
 
2012-10-13 04:48:01 PM  

jfarkinB: I'm thinking that ball lightning, as commonly described and discussed, doesn't really exist. My money is on persistence-of-vision effects stemming from bright, nearby strikes; that would explain the movement patterns observers most commonly describe. That, and the excitement/confusion that results from a close call with lightning.

But I'd still be very, very happy to learn I'm wrong.


Pull up a chair.

I've seen it twice. Neither was anywhere near a glass window, though. Hell, the second time I even got in trouble over it, because I disobeyed a direct order to run, and it did something that seemed sort of incriminating, although no one was really sure about what in the end, so it got dropped with a note that while I had been ordered to show it a clean pair of heels I had extenuating circumstances, but I did not get an attaboy for bravery in the face of weird electrical phenomena either.

The first episode was fairly short, maybe 10 seconds, the second one, though, that one went on a while, maybe 3 minutes or more and had multiple eyewitnesses including myself. The whole thing is sort of tl;dr unless you really want the details.
 
2012-10-13 05:25:54 PM  

AssAsInAssassin: darthdrafter: Is it possible that the small orbs some people take for proof of paranormal activity are scaled down versions of the larger ball lighting? Most of the tools you see on ghost hunting shows track electromagnetic phenomenon... maybe they're recording real science and just getting their conclusions wrong?

No. "Orbs" are just dust specks reflecting light. I can't believe anyone takes them seriously.


There are plenty of things that are not taken seriously that should be. There are also things not taken seriously by some that are taken seriously by others. In this very thread some posts clearly show disbelief in 'regular' ball lighting. As I have personally seen orbs (and no, it wasn't dust) I tend to take it seriously.
 
2012-10-13 05:34:08 PM  
Was it perhaps swamp gas reflectng off of Venus?
 
2012-10-14 08:52:05 PM  

erewhon: The first episode was fairly short, maybe 10 seconds, the second one, though, that one went on a while, maybe 3 minutes or more and had multiple eyewitnesses including myself. The whole thing is sort of tl;dr unless you really want the details.


I do, in fact, really really want the details. Please?
 
2012-10-15 03:11:57 AM  

jfarkinB: erewhon: The first episode was fairly short, maybe 10 seconds, the second one, though, that one went on a while, maybe 3 minutes or more and had multiple eyewitnesses including myself. The whole thing is sort of tl;dr unless you really want the details.

I do, in fact, really really want the details. Please?


Hm. Well, the first time, I was on the front porch and lightning struck a tree in the front yard. Bang, flash, lightning flashes, sparks shower, in a blink you have missed it sort of thing. However, it left behind a ball about the size of a softball, hissing, which floated across the yard for maybe four meters before popping and going out. Two of us saw that one.

I recall (maybe about 5 years old?) seeing what I later assumed was ball lightning but while I have mental images of it I can't say it was real. It did make an impression on me.

The long adult one was sort of back-hair bristling weird.

Ok. Some background, although hopefully not TMI: was in the Army in the eighties, and was nominally in Germany for the last five or so, although while I was stationed there I was often away on jobs. Anyway, there were a number of Germans who had their nose in a twist that we had Pershing II missiles all over their mostly sovereign landscape. So, there was a time when the Greens snagged this guy from Neu Ulm right outside the base using the 'hey there big boy' ploy. They killed him to get his ID, and dumped his body back outside the base. Then they put up some posters offering rewards with pictures of various tactically advantageous service members. The stated goal was to get IDs and uniforms that would allow them to get onto a missile installation and wreak some sort of unstated havoc.

Anyway, intel had it that they were going to try to get onto this Pershing base. So, since we weren't busy elsewhere, we ended up tasked to do something local, namely, the Greens were in the woods watching the base, and we were in the woods watching them. Six of us were on one side of them, the other six were over there somewhere.

So, it's a nice cool spring night, we're bored mindless sitting in the woods in the dark being all sneaky and invisible, waiting for a signal to do something unsocial. We're spread over the edge of a clearing, there's a pile of brush in the middle, there's about a quarter moon high in the sky, the sky is clear. Doesn't seem like a leadup to ball lightning, and in fact, there wasn't any normal lightning.

There we sit, with the occasional terse radio message. Nothing? Nothing. They're just sitting there. We're just sitting there. And then, then on the far side of the clearing, at the top of the trees, sort of back in the woods, there's a flicker of purplish light. Pop. Hiss. Flicker. Radio traffic. WTF? I don't know. Settle down. Pop. Hiss. Flicker. Ok, that's two. We see it from this side. (we see it from THIS side...) not sure what it is ok get quiet watch for it. In the night vision goggles it's really bright. So I take them off and watch. And there at the top of the trees on the far side of the clearing, there's this purple ball of light that drifts down maybe ten feet and goes out. Pop. Hiss. Then further down the trees the ball pops into existence again, drifts down to ground level, goes out.

I get the impression that it's traveling at a steady rate, just with about a 1:1 mark space ratio, and we're only seeing it about half the time. It starts traveling toward our side of the clearing, half there, half not. Then it hits the pile of brush. we don't know what it is it's coming this way move back into the woods settle down And it wafts up over the brush. Pop. Hiss. Flicker. Like a purple basketball. Only as it gets closer, you can see it's got details inside the purple ball.

It comes down on THIS side of the brushpile and starts toward where we're lurking, maybe 10 seconds there, 10 not. I get the conviction it's coming MY way. Yay. I decide to say it out loud. it's going to come to me what do you mean oh hell yeah, it's coming my way why do you think that my luck, it's going to come after my ass you watch then move back into the woods asshole oh hell no I want a look at it you will not break cover it's a farking purple ball we don't know what it is might compromise our position you think it's a purple spy ball? who knows screw it back into the woodline you go warrant i'm going to move into the clearing and look at it up close no you don't asswipe we need to know what that is move away into the woods everyone until we know what this is. Tom, you idiot, run away, that's an order.

So I stand up and walk forward, which is bad. But hell, it's dark, mostly. It turns a few degrees and comes toward me. Right towards me, about three feet off the ground. Pop. Hiss. Purple ball....out. Purple ball...out. It gets about three feet from me, rises up to my eyelevel. Only now it doesn't go out. Purple ball, about 10-15 cm in diameter. Only...inside it, it's incredibly detailed, and it's all in motion. It's like we're looking at each other. I step forward, it moves forward, we're about six inches apart. Detail on detail. It's like something fractal...anywhere I look at it it's got more detail to study. Pop. It's gone, That's it.

Later, the trouble commences. But what would you expect me to do? It came toward me, it was really weird, we needed to look at it, I'm not running from a purple ball. Why did you say it was going to come to you? Did you have some sort of prearrangement? Believe me, you don't want to have said "It's coming for me" early on, if it actually does that later, at least in an Army setting. It really gets the creative juices flowing in the intel guys later. In the end, it was decided that it was a natural phenomenon, with slight suspicion that I had said it would come towards me after I said it would. But man, I could have stared at it for an hour. 

Anyway, tl; dr
 
2012-10-15 03:17:04 AM  
/s/that I had said it would come towards me/that it came towards me/
 
2012-10-15 11:23:16 AM  
Well, hell, why didn't you mention that Green tech was involved? Everybody knows they've been decades ahead of us since early days.

Seriously, bravo -- that's on a par with any of your alien-tech posts. Not to offend if it's your actual truth, but in my reference frame, it's a very cool story.
 
2012-10-15 03:06:55 PM  

jfarkinB: Well, hell, why didn't you mention that Green tech was involved? Everybody knows they've been decades ahead of us since early days.

Seriously, bravo -- that's on a par with any of your alien-tech posts. Not to offend if it's your actual truth, but in my reference frame, it's a very cool story.


Nope, this one's right up. We never knew what it was. It was one of those stories that lasted forever after too. Some of the guys thought it was funny, others were really creeped out by it.

The instant I realized it was going to come to me instead of just going away or not coming back after one of the invisible periods was pretty stressful - it was just sort of floating over the brush pile, then it made what looked like a very deliberate, smooth course correction in mid-air and started wafting to me. I had this "run or study?" cognitive dissonance moment then decided to go with 'study'. In retrospect, there would have been less aftermath if I'd just kept my mouth shut until I stood up. But I was damned if the thing was going to come where I was and me be on the ground - it limits your ability to advance rapidly away from the AO.

What I had NOT expected was that it would quit doing the blinking thing, stop moving forward, rise up to my eye level and hover. It was...beautiful. Intricate. I couldn't see it clearly from three feet away, so I took a slow step forward, it moved toward me at eye level, we ended up looking at each other from about six inches away. At least that's what it felt like. The insides of the thing were like some sort of Swiss clockwork. If you can imagine a sort of matryoshka Faberge egg made up of concentric shells of purple, pink and white plasma with tiny details inside the layers, many of them in motion, that's as close as I can get to describing it.

At the time it felt natural to do, I'm not inclined to run from weird phenomena anyway, but I can see how it looked pretty odd to the other guys. We're supposed to be all sneaky and unannounced, and the thing looked like it deliberately picked me out, went to where I was craftily concealed, and then we study each other. I'm not sure the brass knew how to react, it was sort of mixed attaboy and idiot with a smattering of 'you seemed to know what it would do, tell me about that' which really hell I didn't know if it was going to electrocute me or what.

But, no, it wasn't anything from the Greens we were stalking, those guys were pretty weak, other than using one of their less unattractive ladies to lure that missile maggot to his doom. The "wanted poster" thing didn't get them anyone else, and other than a few straight-up attempts to walk onto the base through the back perimeter they didn't try their fake American infiltration plan.
 
Displayed 29 of 29 comments

View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest


This thread is archived, and closed to new comments.

Continue Farking
Submit a Link »
On Twitter





In Other Media


  1. Links are submitted by members of the Fark community.

  2. When community members submit a link, they also write a custom headline for the story.

  3. Other Farkers comment on the links. This is the number of comments. Click here to read them.

  4. Click here to submit a link.

Report