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
posted by eye of newt
on Aug 18, 2013 -
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]
posted by jeffburdges
on Jul 23, 2011 -
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]
posted by JBennett
on Jul 10, 2009 -
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]
posted by ArkhanJG
on Jun 1, 2009 -
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
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
, 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]
posted by Upton O'Good
on Mar 2, 2009 -
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. "
posted by hank
on Feb 17, 2006 -
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
posted by mathowie
on Oct 22, 2005 -
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
posted by warbaby
on Apr 30, 2005 -
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.
posted by RakDaddy
on Aug 14, 2000 -