Lichtenberg Figures are branching electric discharges that sometimes appear on the surface or in the interior of insulating materials. Which is a fancy way of describing what is happening here. And you can do it too! (though please be extremely careful).
Lightning strikes at 7000 frames per second. [SLYT]
A natural occurence of the rare and mysterious weather phenomenon known as ball lightning has been captured on video by researchers in China. [more inside]
Scientists make volcanic lightning in a laboratory "A team of researchers at Germany’s Ludwig Maximilian University led by Corrado Cimarelli built an experiment that allowed them to study the conditions that trigger lightning at the base of the eruption plume."
Catatumbo lightning (action at 5:17) is a mysterious and amazing celestial light show that happens from 160 to 300 nights a year, up to 280 times an hour and up to 10 hours per night. It is a powerful and nearly continuous thunderstorm with up to 40,000 bolts of lightning per night that flash mostly from cloud to cloud. The indigenous people call it the River of Fire in the Sky. It takes place in a remote, poor [in Spanish], politically troubled and dangerous corner of the planet, in Catatumbo, Venezuela on Lake Maracaibo, where the houses are all on stilts. [more inside]
Scientists first discovered invisible gamma-ray flashes in Earth's atmosphere in 1991. This year, the radiation burst, known as dark lightning, was discovered to be linked to regular lightning flashes. Will you get zapped by dark lightning when flying through a thunder cloud? A single burst can give an airline passenger a lifetime's safe dose of ionizing radiation. But it is rare enough that, for now, the risk is thought to be minimal. The US Naval Research Laboratory is rigging balloons and aircraft to further study the radiation burst threat.
ELECTRICITY FIGHT! (slyt- some audience responses NSFW)
These each take about 1/2 second but have been expanded to ~30 seconds. I read a book about Tesla awhile ago, and he seemed to view lighting almost like a fluid (and electricity in general). This is a really cool, really interesting way to view it, and the videos here are mesmerizing.
Two Chinese bullet trains have collided with two coaches falling off a bridge after a lightning strike disabled the first train and signaling failed to alert the second in time. A few months previously the railways ministry expressed and subsequently retracted concerns that builders had ignored safety standards to complete construction more quickly. [more inside]
Last Wednesday, a series of thunderstorms rolled through downtown Chicago. At least once, the John Hancock Building, Trump International Hotel and Tower, and the
Willis Sears Tower got struck simultaneously (vimeo). [more inside]
Shocking photos of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 and more volcano pictures from Marco Fulle taken on April 14th, 16th, and 17th.
Fried Gibson. I've always thought you were safe in a house from lightning storms as long as you were off the land-line or computer. A Mississippi man's Gibson Les Paul got positively roasted while sitting in his home, in its case, leaning against a wall. That's a powerful bolt. Lots of gory photos here and in the auction linked above including a nice shot of some of the parts that exploded off of the guitar, some shooting like bullets through the case. Awesome! And it still held quite a bit of its value. Via [more inside]
Air France flight AF 447 has gone missing over the atlantic. The flight left Rio at 2200 GMT on Sunday, and was due to land at 0910 GMT in Paris, but contact was lost at 0130 GMT, some 186 miles northeast of the Brazilian city of Natal. It had 216 passengers and 12 crew on board, including three pilots. The passengers included one infant, seven children, 82 women and 126 men. [more inside]
Perhaps the most apt instrument to use to perform The Imperial March - in response to the Dr. Who theme on the singing tesla coils. From Faraday suited DJs at ArkAttack. [more inside]
The fire tower, or fire lookout, was one of the main wildfire-fighting tools of forest services across the world for much of the 20th century. Most are small cabins, alone or placed on 80-foot steel towers; these are then placed on top of peaks, giving them an unobstructed view of the surrounding countryside. (There are some exceptions, of course.) Operators in the towers, equipped with binoculars and firefinders, spent their days searching for smoke or lightning strikes, which would be pinpointed and radioed in for firefighters. (The lookout operators, who staff the towers for a season at a time straight, have a life that is generally pretty solitary and quiet, though sometimes rather intense.) At peak, there were thousands of fire towers across North America; while most of these no longer exist, a few hundred are still active. [more inside]
Two takes on the immediate future of the electric car: we are either "Going Nowhere Fast" (if you ask a petrolhead from Top Gear magazine) or we are witnessing "The End of the Petrolhead" (if you ask The Economist). A bestiary of current and planned models includes TeslaMotors (now in production), Fisker Automotive (who are being sued by Teslamotors), the GM Volt (due 2010), The Lighting Car Company, the plug in Prius, the GWiz (now slightly less squishy apparently), the Corbin Sparrow, a few (vapory?) models from Zap! and the wondrous Sinclair C5.
A cool map of lightning frequency over time across the globe. And a live version for the U.S. Heck, a zoomed-in version on the Northeast for the past 60 minutes. It turns out that you can even buy a small Lightning Detector to map local lightning strikes on your PC. It listens for the signature static crashes from lightning, sometimes called sferics (short for atmospheric noise), much like you can hear on an AM radio during a storm. You can even listen to streaming audio from NASA's (Alabama) VLF receiver.
Lightning strikes world's largest Jesus. Masonry + nature + photography = awesome.
Everybody has heard a story of someone being struck by lightning. People who survive such a strike can even join a support group. But if you do survive a strike, beware, as you will undoubtedly suffer adverse side effects!
This extremely cool video captures the first "Gigantic Jets" (purportedly) ever captured in the U.S. "Think of them as sprites on steroids: Gigantic Jets are lightning-like discharges that spring from the top of thunderstorms, reaching all the way from the thunderhead to the ionosphere 50+ miles overhead. They're enormous and powerful." See also: An article on the subject from 2003, a more technical article from Nature (mirrored) and how to look for yourself.
The Lightning Field in New Mexico was one of the first earth art installations when it was installed back in the 70's. 30 years later it still stands and turns even the time you spend there into art. Here's an account by Pamela Petro of her time spent there.
Newsfilter : Lightning exits woman's bottom. Unfortunately, there's no video.
7000 frames per second Newscientist article, with links to the movies. "Atmospheric 'sprites' captured in explosive detail ... by researchers using an ultra-high-speed camera. "The best images yet of the flashes – which resemble a giant undulating jellyfish with its tentacles falling from a halo of light – have allowed the team to pick apart their structure and mechanics. "
Nova Science Now recently ran a segment on lightning (quicktime, real, and windows video here). I figured that subject was over and done with shortly after Franklin flew a kite, but it turns out we don't really know exactly what causes a bolt to start. The coolest part of the segment was these researchers in Florida. Scientists know how hard it was to observe, monitor, and even find lightning bolts, so these guys built their own rig. High-powered model rockets attached to a couple thousand feet of wire, which is grounded to larger metal structures on the ground. The result? Shoot a rocket into a storm cloud and you get instant lightning you can count on, measure, and control.
Foudre en Boule avec des micro-ondes (Making ball lightning in your microwave). Complete with movies and audio spectrum analyses. From the Plasma Research website. Also: how to build a stable plasmoid in your microwave; simple ball lightning generation in your microwave; and, last but certainly not least, how to build yourself a glow discharge plasma panel. "This panel is not able to generate some thrusting effects, but you will be able to explore some OAUGDP properties like the air drag reduction effect and to test the EM Cloacking effect."
Lightning bolt! Lightning bolt! LIGHTNING BOLT! THE MOVIE. (qt) - the alternate trailer. (and the original in case you lost it)
Lightning On Demand is a volunteer organization of engineers, artists, scientists and machinists. Our key objective is to produce a controllable discharge of lightning at the greatest physical scale imaginable using modern technology. They've built the worlds biggest Tesla coil, Electrum, a Taser Cannon and some other projects
I never was before engaged in any study that so totally engrossed my attention and my time Ben Frankin's extensive experiments with electricity went well beyond his famous kite flying; he also proved that lightning was electrical (and invented the lightning rod), and was the first one to use the words "positive" and "negative" to describe electrical charges. It would no doubt please the ingenious Mr. Franklin to know that all of his writings on electricity are now available online (Note: link goes to 912k PDF file.) Franklin's excitement over his discoveries is palpable--and high school students can duplicate them on their own, thanks to Ben Franklin As My Lab Partner. And for a demonstration that combines Ben's knowledge of electricity with his mischievous sense of humor and fondness for political subversion, watch Conspirators, or The Treason.
It's made of fluffy silicon. Others think differently. It could explain some UFO sightings. It can be dangerous. And you can make it at home in your microwave. It's ball lightning.
Extreme Instability is a site by Mike Hollingshead, a weather buff from Nebraska who likes chasing storms. On his good days, he gets some spectacular photos of tornados and supercells, but, heck, even his 'crap chasing' days aren't too bad. More of Mike's photos at photoSig.
A lightning bolt created a beautiful smoke ring in the sky the other day. It resembles of Mt Etna's and other volcano's beautiful rings. Nature at it's best.
Preacher asks for a sign, and gets one. Is this the wonder-working power Bush was talking about in the State of the Union Address? Oddly enough this list of indoor lightning safety tips doesn't suggest staying the hell away from charismatic preachers.
Boy survives getting struck by lightning (a man standing next to him dies) and his mom starts a struck by lightning community site to help deal with the trauma, share information, and share experiences about these sorts of events.
You have a better chance being struck by lightning. Or do you? Well it may depend on who you are, where you are, and whether or not you play golf.
Wow... whether it's someone playing with video editing or the real thing, this is pretty freakin' cool: footage of a jet liner triggering a lightning strike. The page takes a bit to load, but for all of you lightning freaks out there, you'll dig.