• What Is Ball Lightning?

The Incredible Phenomenon of Ball Lightning

There is a natural and unexplained phenomenon known as Ball Lightning, which is where a sphere of luminous, self-contained electricity occurs and can be seen either floating around, hovering from the ground, or moving with the wind.

Until roughly 1960, scientists were skeptical over the existence of ball lightning, despite many accounts of it spanning back to ancient history. However, laboratory experiments have been able to produce effects that are visually similar to ball lightning, earning its recognition as a genuine phenomenon, although it is not known by scientists and researchers exactly how similar laboratory-produced effects are to natural ball lightning.

Although ball lightning often occurs when thunderstorms are present, ball lightning itself is known to last a lot longer than the split-second flash of regular lightning.

Throughout history there have been hundreds of reports of ball lightning, and it has been known to vary in size from small, pea-sized occurrences, all the way up to spheres of ball lightning several meters in diameter.

As this is something that has been recorded throughout history, it is hard to understand the true properties of ball lightning as many of the historical accounts are based upon eye witness accounts which are, of course, subjective.

The varying descriptions of ball lightning said that it can move upwards, downwards, sideways or in unpredictable patterns. It has also been observed to hover above the ground or move either with or against the wind. It is also unclear as to whether or not it is attracted to or repelled to other objects, such as building, cars and living objects like humans and animals.

One thing that has been noted for certain is that ball lightning is attracted to power lines at altitude of 984 feet (300 meters) and higher, both during thunderstorms and calm weather.

Much like everything else surrounding this odd marvel, how it dissipates is also subject to many different opinions. Some people have described it as suddenly vanishing, gradually disappearing, absorbing into an object, popping and exploding loudly, or even exploding outwards with force to damage surrounding objects.

A wide range of colors have also been witnessed over the years, with some people saying it can appear to be red, orange, blue, purple and most commonly yellow.

Although scientists have proposed many different and sometimes conflicting hypotheses about ball lightning, raw scientific data on the electric wonder remains very scarce due to its unpredictability and infrequency. It wasn’t until 2014 that the phenomenon was finally caught on video camera.

So that’s most of what we know about ball lightning. I may not have been able to explain why this happens, but nobody can, it’s just something we now know that makes us all the better for having learned about it.

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2018-11-29T14:16:16+00:00

About the Author

Jack Leith-De Graaf
Jack Leith-De Graaf is a BA English Studies graduate and a part-time writer. In his spare time he likes to read and do circus skills. He enjoys writing about video games, television and general knowledge.

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