Stories tagged lightning

It's Friday, so it's time for a new Science Friday video. Science Friday
Science Friday
Courtesy Science Friday
"Lightning is one of the biggest unsolved mysteries of the atmospheric sciences, researchers say. Scientists at the International Center for Lightning Research and Testing in Florida are inducing lightning to strike so they can understand it better. Though summer doesn't begin officially for a few weeks, one of the signature marks of summer may already be in the air near you -- the evening thunderstorm. Thousands of lightning strikes occur on the planet every minute, but the summer heat and humidity help to ramp up the number of lightning-producing thunderstorms. We'll talk about the science of lightning."
Learn more.
Apr
13
2010

Welcome a future with many mushroom!: Welcome this future with lightning!
Welcome a future with many mushroom!: Welcome this future with lightning!Courtesy ziggy fresh
Hello!

You like mushroom! Everyone likes mushroom! But you say, “Why so small in number, mushroom? I am sad for you.”

Don’t be sad for mushroom! Powerful route to new mushroom is within the grasp of your arms! Look through your tears and see lightning!

You say, “Many routes before have wished me great mushroom harvests… all are bringers of sadness. 'Lightning brings mushroom' are the words for children and grandmothers, and they will not bring mushroom!”

Open your home to lightning, it will not bring you unfulfillment! “Lightning brings mushroom” are truly the words of children and grandmothers, but the works of science men and science women make words reality!

Will we will not discard the words of children and grandmothers like lies, say the men and women of science. Let us attempt a lightning spell on the mushroom!

And, with lightning, more mushroom comes! With nearby lightning, an age of mushroom begins!

Why? Don’t ask why!

Why? If you must ask why, I will tell you! The truth of lightning is not known! The guess of science: the mushroom feels great danger in lightning! Defend through growth, is the policy of mushroom!

100,000 volts may increase the number of mushroom twofold!

You have left sadness on the beach, and you eat mushroom on the mountaintop! Lightning has provided!

They promise us that spring is coming, and storm season won't be far behind. Here's some wild storm chaser video of tornadoes and slow-motion lightning strikes. Enjoy!

Feb
23
2009

Lightning better than this: This is how we usually see lightning photographed. Click on the story links to see the copyrighted images of high-speed lightning photography.
Lightning better than this: This is how we usually see lightning photographed. Click on the story links to see the copyrighted images of high-speed lightning photography.Courtesy andrewomerknapp
Have you ever tried to photograph lightning? I have and the results are usually disappointing. But with some new high speed video technology, researchers are able to slow down what's going on with lightning when it strikes. It all looks really cool.

ZT Research in South Dakota is one of the leaders in this effort. Here's a link to its website with some great video and still photos of lightning captured at high speeds and slowed down. USA Today also features a story today about high-speed filming of lightning strikes.

Shocking stories of lightning: Read all about these people's encounters with nature's electronic forces.
Shocking stories of lightning: Read all about these people's encounters with nature's electronic forces.Courtesy andrewomerknapp.
A few weeks ago we posted a link to a story about a guy who got hit in the head with a lightning bolt and lives to tell about it. Here are more lightning strike survivor stories. And the real interesting tidbit of information near the top of the story, 89 percent of people struck by lightning are men. Can you figure out why that would be? Hint: It has nothing to do with the storm scene from the movie "Caddyshack."

Think fast: Would you be able to duck quick enough to avoid a lightning bolt aimed at your head?
Think fast: Would you be able to duck quick enough to avoid a lightning bolt aimed at your head?Courtesy andrewomerknapp
What would you say after getting struck in the head by a bolt of lightning. "Ouch" just doesn't seem expressive enough. Read this to hear what a man in Mora, Minn., has to say after getting hit in the head by lightning. And check out the picture of what it did to his ball cap. DISCLAIMER: Science Buzz does not encourage anyone to intentionally try to get struck in the head by lightning. Don't try this at home or anywhere else.

Apr
25
2008

Laser lightning show: Scientists are finding that shooting lasers into storm clouds can initiate the early stages of a lightning strike. With more work and research, we might some day be able to defuse some of the dangers of lightning
Laser lightning show: Scientists are finding that shooting lasers into storm clouds can initiate the early stages of a lightning strike. With more work and research, we might some day be able to defuse some of the dangers of lightningCourtesy andrewomerknapp
If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, he’d be all over this.

Scientists in New Mexico have shot lasers into clouds in the sky overhead to trigger the early stages of lightning.

By shooting lasers into the sky, atoms are knocked free in a long, thin channel of air – about the length of a football field -- along the laser’s path. That opening, the scientists say, makes an easier path for lightning to go from cloud to ground.

Through these tests, the researchers measured electrical currents coming down from the sky in the laser’s path. The electricity levels were much lower than conventional lightning, however.

The new goal – to trigger actual lightning strikes – will be attempted using lasers that are ten times stronger than the previous laser beams.

Why would anyone want to cause lightning to happen? The researchers have come up with all kings of ideas. Pre-emptive lightning strikes when storms are brewing could diffuse the electricity building up in clouds that could lead to more powerful, dangerous natural lightning strikes. Triggering small lightning bursts in certain areas, like around airports, could make storm conditions less dangerous.

While the laser-driven attempts at sparking lightning are relatively new, scientists have been inducing lightning with rockets in the past. Small rockets are shot toward storm clouds. Attached to the rocket is a long, thing copper wire. One end of the wire is attached to the ground. As the rest of the wire soars toward the cloud, an electrically conductive link is formed. Electricity usually explodes the wire and a lightning bolt follows down that path to hit the Earth. But that rocket/wire method only works about half of the time.

So what do you think? Is using lasers to create lightning a good use of science? Are there some creative applications you can think for this? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.

Nov
30
2007

Where's the lightning?: I can't see any lightning in this picture, but recent magnetic antenna data shows that Venus has regular lightning flashes in its dense atmosphere.
Where's the lightning?: I can't see any lightning in this picture, but recent magnetic antenna data shows that Venus has regular lightning flashes in its dense atmosphere.Courtesy NASA
With a name like Thor, any mention of lightning and thunder jumps off the page (or computer screen) demanding my immediate attention.

So I was locked into yesterday’s account that the European Space Agency’s Venus Express has confirmed the theories astronomers have had for years, that lightning strikes on Venus.

Lightning is one of the factors considered in the evoluntionary process that could have “sparked” life into inorganic materials. But weather and climate conditions on Venus today suggest that the window of supporting life forms has been long shut on the planet.

But the finding of lightning has electrified the weather forecasts for Earth’s solar system neighbor. Previously, astronomical meteorologists had figured that Venus had a long, boring forecast of strong, steady winds for the next 400 years.

Venus Express, which has been orbiting Venus for nearly two years now, used a magnetic antenna to pick up the planet’s lightning activities.

So if you had a strong enough telescope to see a lightning flash on Venus, how long would you have to count until you hear the ensuing thunder clap? Talk amongst yourselves to come up with the answer.

Jul
01
2007

Thunderstorm season is already well underway, buzz people, and it’s got your number. YOUR number.
Lightning Strikes!: It's difficult to make out in this picture, but the man directly below the lightning is leaning against a flagpole and talking into a land line telephone. Don't be like him.    (Photo by Emi 7)
Lightning Strikes!: It's difficult to make out in this picture, but the man directly below the lightning is leaning against a flagpole and talking into a land line telephone. Don't be like him. (Photo by Emi 7)

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA (a source for some of the museum’s Science on a Sphere programming),”the biggest misconception people have about getting struck by lightning… is that it won't happen to them.” In fact, according to my personal calculations (based largely on repeated viewings of Back to the Future), a person is more likely to get struck by lightning than to get married. It depends on the person, though.

Living with the near-certainty of being stricken by lightning, or, as I prefer to say, being the victim of a “lightning attack,” we must all take certain precautions to protect ourselves (however futile the odds might make it seem).

NOAA presents the following tips:
1) Understand the weather patters in your area – find out when thunderstorms are most likely to occur, and don’t plan any regular flag football matches around that time.
2) If you’re outside, go inside.
3) If you’re inside, avoid windows, as well as anything that could carry acharge from a lightning strike into the house. This means plumbing, hard-wired electrical equipment, and land-line phones. Even something like a videogame console can get you zapped, if you’re playing when lighting strikes. It might be a good way to cure an addiction, though.
4) Avoid concrete walls. They often have metal reinforcement.
5) As much as you might want to, don’t go driving your soft-top convertible during a thunderstorm. It’s not safe.
6) Stay away from tall objects, even if they seem to provide shelter. Lightning hates tall things.
7) Wait a good thirty minutes after the last rumble of thunder before going back outside.

Useful suggestions, but not necessarily complete. I, JGordon, offer these tips:
1) Don’t offend lightning. Making sassy comments about lightning’s age, mother, or dropping out of community college are a sure fire way to get smoked. “Your mom’s so…” BAM! Like that. So watch your mouth.
2) Don’t hang out in lightning’s neighborhood. Avoid dark, towering clouds, K-Mart parking lots, and state park campgrounds. Especially if you’re alone.
3) Don’t ever assume that lightning is unarmed. Lightning is always packing heat. And, by heat, I mean lightning.
4) Before leaving the house each morning, throw away a dollar bill for lightning. If you live in an apartment, this isn’t strictly necessary.
5) Lightning is attracted to bright colors and high-contrast patterns. So wearing Zubas, in the rain is essentially a death wish. As if that’s anything new.
6) Lightning has the mentality of a wild animal (like a wolf or a zebra) that hates you. Accept this, and act accordingly.

If you follow all these tips to the letter, your chances of getting struck by lightning will probably fall to being about equal with your chances of accidentally buying the wrong brand of corn chips while shopping for groceries.

NOAA also reminds people that “lightning is a nervous system injury; it's not a burn injury.” It can cause lasting damage, from memory loss and depression to chronic pain and paralysis. So, if you do get attacked by lightning, it’s best to have a good lie-down after calling 9-1-1.

Protect yourself with knowledge!

Mission managers have determined Space Shuttle Atlantis will not launch before Tuesday, Aug. 29. NASA