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Encyclopedia > Ball lightning

Ball lightning is an atmospheric phenomenon, the physical nature of which is still controversial. The term refers to reports of a luminous object which varies in size from golf ball to several meters in diameter. It is sometimes associated with thunderstorms, but unlike lightning flashes arcing between two points, which last a small fraction of a second, ball lightning reportedly lasts many seconds. There have been some reports of production of a similar phenomenon in the laboratory, but some question whether it is the same phenomenon. Ball lightning may refer to: Ball lightning, a reported type of lightning that takes the form of a short-lived, glowing, floating object often the size and shape of a basketball Ball Lightning, a song by Rocket from the Crypt from their 1995 album Scream, Dracula, Scream! Category: ... A thunderstorm, also called an electrical storm or lightning storm, is a form of weather characterized by the presence of lightning and its attendant thunder produced from a cumulonimbus cloud. ... For information on lightning precautions, see Lightning safety. ...



Despite over 10,000 reported sightings of the phenomenon, ball lightning has often been regarded as nothing more than a myth, fantasy, or hoax.[1] Reports of the phenomenon were dismissed due to lack of physical evidence, and were often regarded the same way as UFO sightings. UFO can mean: Unidentified flying object United Future Organization, a Japanese-Brazilian electronic jazz band UFO, the rock band that previously featured Michael Schenker UFO, the Gerry Anderson TV series United Farmers of Ontario, a political party that formed the government in Ontario from 1919 to 1923 U.F.O...

A 1960 paper reported that 5% of the US population reported having witnessed ball lightning.[2] Another study analyzed reports of 10,000 cases.[3]

Ball lightning is photographed very rarely, and details of witness accounts can vary widely. Many of the properties observed in ball lightning accounts conflict with each other, and it is very possible that several different phenomena are being incorrectly grouped together. It is also possible that some photos are fakes.

The discharges reportedly appear during thunderstorms, sometimes issuing from a lightning flash, but large numbers of encounters reportedly occur during good weather with no storms within hundreds of miles.

A report from an area of central Africa having a very high incidence of lightning said that ball lightning used to appear from a certain hill just before the onset of the rainy season.[4] (The report also exhibits a reluctance to report such phenomena typical of many people).

Ball lightning reportedly tends to rotate or spin and can possess odd trajectories such as veering off at an angle or rocking from side to side like a leaf falling. Fireballs can also move with or against the wind. Other motions include a tendency to float (or hover) in the air and take on a ball-like appearance. Its shape has been described as spherical, ovoid, teardrop, or rod-like with one dimension being much larger than the others. Many are red to yellow in colour, sometimes transparent, and some contain radial filaments or sparks. Other colours, such as blue or white occur as well. In physics, buoyancy is the upward force on an object produced by the surrounding fluid (i. ... A cubical magnet levitating over a superconducting material (this is known as the Meissner effect) Levitation (from Latin levare, to raise) is the process by which an object is suspended against gravity, in a stable position, by a force without physical contact. ... Look up air in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see Ball (disambiguation). ... A sphere is a symmetrical geometrical object. ... An oval or ovoid was originally an egg shape (from Latin OVVM); it is now usually used to refer to ellipses, but can also mean any similar shape, such as egg shapes or race-course shapes (a semicircle on either side of a quadrilateral). ... For other uses, see Red (disambiguation). ... A yellow Tulip. ... For other uses, see Blue (disambiguation). ... This article is about the color. ...

Sometimes the discharge is described as being attracted to a certain object, and sometimes as moving randomly. After several seconds the discharge reportedly leaves, disperses, is absorbed into something, or, rarely, vanishes in an explosion. Some accounts have the balls passing freely through wood or glass or metal, while other accounts report circular holes in the wood or glass or metal. Some report explosions when the balls contact electrical wiring or the vaporisation of water when the balls enter water. Some accounts say the balls are lethal, killing on contact, while other accounts say the opposite.

A 19th century depiction of ball lightning
A 19th century depiction of ball lightning

Tesla reportedly could consistently make ball lightning in his Colorado lab, with one account saying that he was able to temporarily contain the balls in wooden boxes. old engraving in the public domain This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... old engraving in the public domain This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ...

Pilots in World War II described an unusual phenomenon for which ball lightning has been suggested as an explanation. The pilots saw small balls of light "escorting" bombers, flying alongside their wingtips. Pilots of the time referred to the phenomenon as "foo fighters," initially believing that the lights were from enemy planes. However there are other theories as to the identity of the foo fighters. Combatants Allied powers: China France Great Britain Soviet Union United States and others Axis powers: Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Chiang Kai-shek Charles de Gaulle Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tōjō Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead: 33,000... This article is about the aerial phenomenon. ...

Submariners in WWII gave the most frequent and consistent accounts of small ball lightning in the confined submarine atmosphere. There are repeated accounts of inadvertent production of floating explosive balls when the battery banks were switched in/out, especially if mis-switched or when the highly inductive electrical motors were mis-connected or disconnected. An attempt later to duplicate those balls with a surplus submarine battery resulted in several failures and an explosion. [3]

Volcanos and the atmosphere and earth around them have been known to produce ball lightning and other luminous effects, with or without electrical storms. These accounts vary greatly.

Other accounts place ball lightning as appearing over a kitchen stove or wandering down the aisle of an airliner.[5] One report described ball lightning following and engulfing a car, causing the electrical supply to overload and fail. In 1773, two clergy men recalled that they saw a ball of light drop down in their fireplace. Seconds later, it exploded. [citation needed] An Airbus A340 airliner operated by Air Jamaica An airliner is a large fixed-wing aircraft with the primary function of transporting paying passengers. ...

Some researchers suggest that ball lightning has a more diverse range of properties than previously thought (e.g. Singer, 1971). Japanese investigators (e.g. Ofuruton et al) report that Japanese ball lightning can occur in fine weather and be unconnected with lightning. The diameter is said to be typically 20–30 cm but sometimes even larger up to a few meters. Ball lightning can split and recombine and can exhibit large mechanical energy like carving trenches (e.g. Fitzgerald 1978) and holes into the ground.

Historical accounts

One of the earliest and most destructive occurrences was reported to have taken place during The Great Thunderstorm at Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Devon, in England, on October 21, 1638. Four people died and around 60 were injured when what appeared to have been ball lightning struck a church.[citation needed] The Great Thunderstorm of Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Dartmoor, took place on 21 October 1638, when the church of St Pancras was apparently struck by ball lightning during a severe thunderstorm. ... Widecombe-in-the-Moor is a small village located within the heart of the Dartmoor National Park in Devon in the United Kingdom. ... Part of the seafront of Torquay, south Devon, at high tide Devon is a large county in South West England, bordered by Cornwall to the west, and Dorset and Somerset to the east. ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... is the 294th day of the year (295th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Events March 29 - Swedish colonists establish first settlement in Delaware, called New Sweden. ...

A famous anecdote from 1753 depicts ball lightning as having violent potential. Professor Georg Richmann, of Saint Petersburg, Russia created a kite flying apparatus similar to that built by Benjamin Franklin a year earlier. He was attending a meeting of the Academy of Sciences, when he heard thunder. The Professor ran home with his engraver to capture the event for posterity. While the experiment was underway, ball lightning appeared, collided with Richmann's forehead and killed him, leaving a red spot. His shoes were blown open, parts of his clothes singed, the engraver knocked out; the doorframe of the room was split, and the door itself torn off its hinges.[6][7] Georg Wilhelm Richmann (Russian: Георг Вильгельм Рихман) (July 22, 1711 (old style: July 11, 1711) – August 6, 1753 (old style: July 26, 1753)) was a Russian physicist. ... Saint Petersburg  listen (Russian: Санкт-Петербу́рг, English transliteration: Sankt-Peterburg), colloquially known as Питер (transliterated Piter), formerly known as Leningrad (Ленингра́д, 1924–1991... Benjamin Franklin (January 17 [O.S. January 6] 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the most well known Founding Fathers of the United States. ... Thunder is the sound made by lightning. ...

Tsar Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia, reported witnessing what he called "a fiery ball" while in the company of his grandfather, Tsar Alexander II: "Once my parents were away," recounted the Tsar, "and I was at the all-night vigil with my grandfather in the small church in Alexandria. During the service there was a powerful thunderstorm, streaks of lightning flashed one after the other, and it seemed as if the peals of thunder would shake even the church and the whole world to its foundations. Suddenly it became quite dark, a blast of wind from the open door blew out the flame of the candles which were lit in front of the iconostasis, there was a long clap of thunder, louder than before, and I suddenly saw a fiery ball flying from the window straight towards the head of the Emperor. The ball (it was of lightning) whirled around the floor, then passed the chandelier and flew out through the door into the park. My heart froze, I glanced at my grandfather - his face was completely calm. He crossed himself just as calmly as he had when the fiery ball had flown near us, and I felt that it was unseemly and not courageous to be frightened as I was....After the ball had passed through the whole church, and suddenly gone out through the door, I again looked at my grandfather. A faint smile was on his face, and he nodded his head at me. My panic disappeared, and from that time I had no more fear of storms." [4]

British occultist Aleister Crowley also reported witnessing what he referred to as "globular electricity" during a thunderstorm on Lake Pasquaney in New Hampshire in 1916. As related in his Confessions, he was sheltered in a small cottage when he "noticed, with what I can only describe as calm amazement, that a dazzling globe of electric fire, apparently between six and twelve inches in diameter, was stationary about six inches below and to the right of my right knee. As I looked at it, it exploded with a sharp report quite impossible to confuse with the continuous turmoil of the lightning, thunder and hail, or that of the lashed water and smashed wood which was creating a pandemonium outside the cottage. I felt a very slight shock in the middle of my right hand, which was closer to the globe than any other part of my body."[8] Aleister Crowley, born Edward Alexander Crowley, (12 October 1875 – 1 December 1947; the surname is pronounced // i. ... Official language(s) English Capital Concord Largest city Manchester Area  Ranked 46th  - Total 9,350 sq mi (24,217 km²)  - Width 68 miles (110 km)  - Length 190 miles (305 km)  - % water 4. ...

On 30th April 1877, a ball of lightning entered the Golden Temple at Amritsar, India, and exited through a side door. This event was observed by a number of people, and the incident is inscribed on the front wall of Darshani Deodhi.[citation needed] For the Golden Pavilion Temple in Kyoto, Japan, see Kinkaku-ji. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

On August 6, 1994 a ball of lightning went through a closed window in Uppsala, Sweden, leaving a circular hole with a diameter of 5 centimeters. The incident was witnessed by residents in the area, and was recorded by a lightning strike tracking system on the Division for Electricity and Lightning Research at Uppsala University.[9][10] is the 218th day of the year (219th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display full 1994 Gregorian calendar). ... Uppsala (older spelling Upsala) is a city in central Sweden, located about 70 km north of Stockholm. ...

Homemade experiments

Many sources of information on ball lightning often make mention of a questionably related phenomenon commonly referred to as plasma balls. These floating balls of light often accompany a larger ball of fire that occurs when a lit or recently extinguished match or other material is immediately placed in an ordinary kitchen microwave on high power. These experiments are easily reproduced in home appliances and numerous websites exist with instructions on how to recreate it. Home video clips as well as video of public demonstrations of the occurrence have been posted.[11][12][13]

The experiments usually involve lighting a match and either microwaving it while lit or blowing out the match and then microwaving it immediately. The plasma balls are usually bright and bluish in color, and roll around at the ceiling of the microwave chamber. A buzzing sound is characteristically observed while the plasma balls are present.

The effect tends to damage the chamber where the plasma ball(s) have appeared, producing dents in the chamber wall or ceiling, as well as leaving burn marks. Some instructions for the experiment describe covering the lit object with an inverted glass jar, which would contain the flame and "plasma balls" so that they wouldn't damage the microwave oven itself.

Although this phenomenon has been referred to as ball lightning or plasma balls, these names are more a description of their appearance than they are based on scientific fact. It has not been proven that it is actually related to the natural occurrence of ball lightning, or that the balls are made of plasma. No truly scientific explanation currently exists for the phenomenon.


Currently there is no widely accepted explanation of what exactly ball lightning is, despite several theories that have been advanced since the phenomenon was brought into the scientific realm by the French Academy scientist François Arago. Louis XIV visiting the Académie in 1671 The French Academy of Sciences (Académie des sciences) is a learned society, founded in 1666 by Louis XIV at the suggestion of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, to encourage and protect the spirit of French scientific research. ... François Arago François Jean Dominique Arago (February 26, 1786 – October 2, 1853) was a French mathematician, physicist, astronomer, and politician. ...

An early attempt to explain ball lightning was recorded by Nikola Tesla in 1904.[14] Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)[1] was a world-renowned Serbian inventor, physicist, mechanical engineer and electrical engineer. ...

Difficult features of the lightning include its persistence and its near-neutral buoyancy in air. A popular hypothesis is that ball lightning is a highly ionized plasma contained by self-generated magnetic fields: a plasmoid.[citation needed] This hypothesis is not initially credible. If the gas is highly ionized, and if it is near thermodynamic equilibrium, then it must be very hot. Since it must be in pressure equilibrium with the surrounding air, it will be much lighter and hence float up rapidly. Magnetic fields, if present, might provide the plasmoid's coherence, but will not reduce this buoyancy. In addition, a hot plasma cannot persist for long because of recombination and heat conduction. In physics, buoyancy is the upward force on an object produced by the surrounding fluid (i. ... Ionization is the physical process of converting an atom or molecule into an ion by changing the difference between the number of protons and electrons. ... For other uses, see Plasma. ... A plasmoid is a coherent structure of plasma and magnetic fields. ... In thermodynamics, a thermodynamic system is said to be in thermodynamic equilibrium when it is in thermal equilibrium, mechanical equilibrium, and chemical equilibrium. ... The expression lighter than air refers to objects, usually aircraft, that are buoyant in air because they have an average density that is less than that of air (usually because they contain gases that have a density that is lower than that of air). ... Plasma Recombination is a process by which ions of a plasma capture the free energetic electrons to form new neutral atoms. ... Heat conduction or thermal conduction is the spontaneous transfer of thermal energy through matter, from a region of higher temperature to a region of lower temperature, and hence acts to even out temperature differences. ...

There may, however, be some novel form of plasma for which the above arguments do not fully apply. For example, a plasma may be composed of negative and positive ions, rather than electrons and positive ions. In that case, the recombination may be rather slow even at ambient temperature. One such theory involves positively charged hydrogen and negatively charged nitrites (NO2) and nitrates (NO3). In this theory, the role of the ions as seeds for the condensation of water droplets is important.[citation needed] General Name, Symbol, Number hydrogen, H, 1 Chemical series nonmetals Group, Period, Block 1, 1, s Appearance colorless Atomic mass 1. ... // Definition The nitrite ion is NO2−. A nitrite compound is one that contains this group, either an ionic compound, or an analogous covalent one. ... Trinitrate redirects here. ...

If ball lightning releases energy stored in chemical form, its persistence and neutral buoyancy might be more easily understood. The reaction might proceed slowly due to kinetic or geometric constraints, and the reaction could take place near ambient temperature. One of the first detailed theories of this sort involved the oxidation of nanoparticle networks formed when normal lightning strikes on soil.[15]

The coherence of the collection of nanoparticles may be enhanced by vortex motion, like that of a smoke ring.[16] A vortex ring is a mass of moving fluid moving through the same or different fluid where the flow pattern takes on a donut shape. ... Human blown smoke ring. ...

A proposed explanation[verification needed] for the numerous colours reported for ball lightning is the following known gas phase chemoluminescent reaction:

NO+O3 → NO2[◊]+ O2

Broadband visible light is emitted from the NO2 as it reverts to a lower energy state. This explanation is supported by the numerous witness accounts of the presence of ozone.

Currently, one prominent theory suggests that ball lightning is nothing more than burning vaporized silicon. When lightning strikes earth's silica-rich soil, the silicon could be instantly vaporized, the vapor itself condensing and burning slowly via the oxygen in the surrounding air. A recently published experimental investigation of this effect by evaporating pure silicon with an electric arc reported producing "luminous balls with lifetime in the order of seconds".[17][18][19] Videos of this experiment are available online. [20]

Another current theory published by Oleg Meshcheryakov suggests that ball lightning is made of of composite nano or submicrometre particles, each particle constituting a nanobattery. A surface discharge shorts these batteries, resulting in a current which forms the ball. His model is described as an aerosol, but not aerogel, model that explains all the observable properties and processes of ball lightning. [21][22]

Singer in his monograph, The Nature of Ball Lightning, published by Plenum Press critiques several classes of theory. Most theory can match some of the reported properties of ball lightning but not all. In addition there are several difficulties that need to be overcome with many of the proposed theories.

Ball lightning theories are distinguished by having the energy either self-contained or with energy being supplied to the ball by an external source. In the latter case much longer life times are possible.

The types of theories vary widely. There are electrical discharge theories, spinning electric diplole theory, electro-static Leyden jar theories, nuclear theories, trapped microwave theories, fractal aerogel theories, magnetically-trapped plasma theories, vortex theories, metallic vapour theories, Rydberg matter theories, chemical combustion theories, black hole theories, antimatter theories, optical illusions (e.g. lightning after image on the retina theory etc).

Each of these theories is now described. These are the types of candidate theories but they need to be able to account for eyewitness accounts. No one theory has been widely accepted so there needs to be some debate within the scientific community as to the likely cause of ball lightning.

  1. Spinning electric dipole theory. (Endean (1976) published this theory. He postulated that ball lightning could be described as an electric field vector spinning in the microwave frequency region.)
  2. Electrostatic Leyden jar models. (Singer (1971) discusses this type of theory and suggested that the electrical recombination time would be too short for the ball lightning lifetimes often reported.)
  3. Nuclear theories
  4. Trapped microwave theories
  5. Maser caviton theory
  6. Fractal aerogel theories (Smirnov (1987) put forward a charged aerosol cluster theory.)
  7. Magnetically trapped plasma theories
  8. Vortex theories (Coleman (2006) described ball lightning as a vortex fireball or natural vortex burning a combustible fuel. Ball lightning under this theory is essentially a turbulent swirling flame inside a vortex.
  9. Rydberg matter theories
  10. Chemical combustion theories
  11. Black hole theories
  12. Anti-matter theories
  13. Optical illusions.

Esoteric explanations

Ball lightning has been connected to reports of several supernatural phenomena, ranging from will o' the wisps to UFOs. Some people believe the ball lightning phenomena are ghosts or spirits, or are related to poltergeists and spontaneous human combustion.[1] References can be seen in the will o' the wisp and other spirits that take the guise of orbs of light. Some UFO skeptics have suggested that many apparent close encounters are actually observations of ball lightning. UFO enthusiasts report seeing ball lightning often at crop circle sites and believe them to be some kind of intelligence or come from some kind of intelligence while not denying that it is indeed ball lightning. For other uses, see Will-o-the-wisp (disambiguation). ... “UFO” redirects here. ... For other uses, see Ghost (disambiguation). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Spontaneous human combustion (SHC) is a pseudo-scientific hypothesis that suggests the burning of a persons body may occur without an external source of flammable ignition. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Close encounter in ufology is an event where a person witnesses an unidentified flying object. ... A crop circle consisting of multiple circles. ... Intelligence is the mental capacity to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and language, and learn. ...

Another esoteric explanation that has been offered for ball lightning is that it is the passage of microscopic primordial black holes through the Earth's atmosphere. No such tiny black holes have ever been positively detected, and it is uncertain whether they would have the physical properties described by ball lightning if they did in fact exist and in great enough quantity to account for ball lightning reports. This explanation also would not account for their alleged co-occurrence with electrical storms. However, inspired by accounts of ball lightning that, amongst other physically verifiable effects, had ploughed a 90-metre trench across peat bogs in Ireland, Pace Vandevender, a plasma physicist who worked until his retirement on thermonuclear fusion at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, believes that no explanation other than a black hole with a mass of more than 20 tonnes could explain the displacement of more than 100 tonnes of peat. His colleagues at Sandia agreed that, crazy though the hypothesis seems, it was worthy of the attention of a national laboratory.[23] A primordial black hole is a hypothetical type of black hole that is formed not by the gravitational collapse of a star but by the extreme densities of matter present during early universe. ...

Ball lightning in mythology and fiction

Among the ancients of Japanese mythology, there is a myth that ball lightning is the wrath of the thunder god, Raijin from Japanese mythology. In Basque mythology ball lightning were believed to be either main deity, Mari or Sugaar, travelling from one mountain to another. M. l'abbé de Tressan in, Mythology compared with history: or, the fables of the ancients elucidated from historical records, Japanese mythology is a very complex system of beliefs that embraces Shinto and Buddhist traditions as well as agriculture-based folk religion. ... Raijin ) is a god of thunder and lightning in Japanese mythology. ... Japanese mythology is a very complex system of beliefs that embraces Shinto and Buddhist traditions as well as agriculture-based folk religion. ... Ancient Basque mythology is centered around the figure of the goddess Mari, and her consort Sugaar (also called Maju). ... Mari is the main character of Basque mythology, having, unlike other criatures that share the same imaginary enviroment, a god_like nature. ... The introduction of this article does not provide enough context for readers unfamiliar with the subject to understand later content. ...

...during a storm which endangered the ship Argo, fires were seen to play round the heads of the Tyndarides, and the instant after the storm ceased. From that time, those fires which frequently appear on the surface of the ocean were called the fire of Castor and Pollux. When two were seen at the same time, it announced the return of calm, when only one, it was the presage of a dreadful storm. This species of fire is frequently seen by sailors, and is a species of ignis fatuus. (page 417) The Argo, painting by Lorenzo Costa In Greek mythology, the Argo was the ship on which Jason and the Argonauts sailed from Iolcus to retrieve the Golden Fleece. ... Castor (or Kastor) and Polydeuces (sometimes called Pollux), were in Greek mythology the twin sons of Leda and the brothers of Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra. ... In Greek mythology, Pollux was the nickname of Polydeuces, the son of Zeus and Leda and twin brother of Castor. ... The will o the wisps or ignis fatuus (fools fire) is the phenomenon of ghostly lights sometimes seen at night or in twilight hovering over damp ground in still air, often over bogs. ...

A ball lightning, as depicted on the front cover of The Seven Crystal Balls
A ball lightning, as depicted on the front cover of The Seven Crystal Balls

Some phenomena known from folklore, such as the will o' the wisp, may be related to ball lightning. Image File history File links Tintin_cover_-_The_Seven_Crystal_Balls. ... Image File history File links Tintin_cover_-_The_Seven_Crystal_Balls. ... For other uses, see Will-o-the-wisp (disambiguation). ...

An early fictional reference to ball lightning appears in a children's book set in the 1800s by Laura Ingalls Wilder.[24] The books are considered historical fiction, but the author always insisted they were descriptive of actual events in her life. In Wilder's description, three separate balls of lightning appear during a winter blizzard near a cast iron stove in the family's kitchen. They are described as appearing near the stovepipe, then rolling across the floor, only to disappear as the mother (Caroline Ingalls) chases them with a willow-branch broom.[25] Laura Ingalls Wilder (February 7, 1867 – February 10, 1957) was an American author. ... Caroline Ingalls with her husband Charles Ingalls Caroline Lake Ingalls, née Quiner was the mother of Laura Ingalls Wilder of Little House on the Prairie fame. ...

Ball lightning also occurs in The Seven Crystal Balls, one of the books in The Adventures of Tintin series. In Stephen King's novella The Body, the narrator and his friends encounter this phenomenon traveling down railroad tracks just outside the fictional town of Castle Rock. A ball lightning named Skip makes a brief appearance as a character in Thomas Pynchon's novel Against the Day. The Seven Crystal Balls (Les Sept Boules de cristal) is the thirteenth of The Adventures of Tintin, a series of classic comic-strip albums, written and illustrated by Belgian writer and illustrator Hergé, featuring young reporter Tintin as a hero. ... The main characters and others from The Castafiore Emerald, one of the later books The Adventures of Tintin (French: ) is a series of Belgian comic books created by Belgian artist Hergé, the pen name of Georges Remi (1907–1983). ... The Body: Fall from Innocence is a novella by Stephen King, originally published in the 1982 collection Different Seasons. ... Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. ... Against the Day is a novel by Thomas Pynchon released in the United States on November 21, 2006. ...

Fantasy fiction and games feature ball lightning as an attack spell cast by mage characters.[citation needed]

See also

St. ... The Naga fireballs (Thai บั้งไฟพญานาค, bangfai payanak) are a phenomenon seen in Nong Khai province, Isan, Thailand and Laos, in which glowing balls rise from the Mekong river. ... Hessdalen Lights are unexplained lights (called ghost lights) usually seen in Hessdalen, Norway. ... The Spooklight, also called the Hornet Spooklight or Devils Promenade, is a mysterious visual phenomenon allegedly experienced by witnesses in a small area known locally as the Devils Promenade on the border between southwestern Missouri and northeastern Oklahoma west of the small town of Hornet, Missouri. ... For other uses, see Will-o-the-wisp (disambiguation). ... This article is about the aerial phenomenon. ... Lightning over Pentagon City in Arlington County, Virginia Cloud to cloud lightning Lightning is a powerful natural electrostatic discharge produced during a thunderstorm. ...

Further reading

  • Barry, James Dale (1980). Ball Lightning and Bead Lightning. New York: Plenum Press. 
  • Cade, Cecil Maxwell; Delphine Davis (1969). The Taming of the Thunderbolts. New York: Abelard-Schuman Limited. 
  • Coleman, Peter F. (2004). Great Balls of Fire—A Unified Theory of Ball Lightning, UFOs, Tunguska and other Anomalous Lights. Christchurch, NZ: Fireshine Press. 
  • Coleman, P.F. 2006, J.Sci.Expl., Vol. 20, No.2, 215–238.
  • Endean, V.G.,1976, Nature, 263,753,754.
  • Golde, R. H. (1977). Lightning. Bristol: John Wright and Sons Limited. 
  • Golde, R. H. (1977). Lightning Volume 1 Physics of Lightning. Academic Press. 
  • Singer, Stanley (1971). The Nature of Ball Lightning. New York: Plenum Press. 
  • Smirnov, 1987, Physics Reports, (Review Section of Physical Letters,152, No. 4, 177–226.
  • Stenhoff, Mark (1999). Ball Lightning, An Unsolved Problem in Atmospheric Physics. New York, Boston, Dordrecht, London, Moscow: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. 
  • Uman, Martin A. (1984). Lightning. Dover Publications. 
  • Viemeister, Peter E. (1972). The Lightning Book. Cambridge: MIT Press. 


  1. ^ a b http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn1720
  2. ^ Scientific American: "Ask the experts" website accessed 4 April 2007. The page refers to statistical investigations in J. R. McNally, "Preliminary Report on Ball Lightning" in Proceedings of the Second Annual Meeting of the Division of Plasma Physics of the American Physical Society, Gatlinburg, No. 2AD5 [1960], Paper J-15, pp. 1AD25).
  3. ^ Scientific American: "Ask the experts" website accessed 4 April 2007. This page quotes the work of A. I. Grigoriev, who analyzed more than 10,000 cases of ball lightning (A.I. Grigoriev, "Statistical Analysis of the Ball Lightning Properties," in Science of Ball Lightning, edited by Y. H. Ohtsuki, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1988, pp. 88AD134).
  4. ^ The Northern Rhodesia Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3 (1954) pp. 79-80. Tim Cassidy: “Fireballs at Chisamba”. Accessed 26 February 2007.
  5. ^ "My husband was on a night flight years ago where he swears a "fireball" streaked down the aisle." [1]
  6. ^ Clarke, Ronald W. (1983). Benjamin Franklin, A Biography. Random House, 87. 
  7. ^ "Frenchman Thomas Francois D'Alibard used a 50 foot (15 m) long vertical rod to draw down the "electric fluid" of the lightning in Paris on May 10, 1752. One week later, M. Delor repeated the experiment in Paris, followed in July by an Englishman, John Canton. But one unfortunate physicist did not fare so well. Georg Wilhelm Reichmann attempted to reproduce the experiment, according to Franklin's instructions, standing inside a room. A glowing ball of charge traveled down the string, jumped to his forehead and killed him instantly.[2]
  8. ^ Crowley, Aleister (1989-12-05). "Chp. 83", The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autobiography. Penguin. ISBN 0140191895. 
  9. ^ http://www.hvi.uu.se/Lightning/blixtar/Klotblixt.html
  10. ^ http://www.dn.se/DNet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=537&a=179865&viewAll=true
  11. ^ http://jlnlabs.online.fr/plasma/gmr/index.htm
  12. ^ http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/cwillis/microwave.html
  13. ^ http://www.powerlabs.org/uwavexp.htm#%A0%20Ball%20Lightning:
  14. ^ Tesla, Nikola (1904-03-05). "The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires". Electrical World and Engineer. 
  15. ^ Abrahamson, John; James Dinniss (3 February 2000). Ball lightning caused by oxidation of nanoparticle networks from normal lightning strikes on soil 519–521. Nature. See also the news story on p.487 of the same issue.
  16. ^ "Ball lightning explained", Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2002-04-04.  Also articles by Coleman in Weather and in the 2006 Journal of Scientific Exploration 20,2,215–238.
  17. ^ Paiva, Gerson Silva; Antonio Carlos Pavão, Elder Alpes de Vasconcelos, Odim Mendes, Jr., Eronides Felisberto da Silva, Jr. (2007). "Production of Ball-Lightning-Like Luminous Balls by Electrical Discharges in Silicon". Phys. Rev. Lett. 98. DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.98.048501. Retrieved on 2007-04-06. 
  18. ^ "Lightning balls created in the lab", New Scientist, 10 January 2007. 
  19. ^ "Ball Lightning Mystery Solved? Electrical Phenomenon Created in Lab", National Geographic News, 22 January 2007. 
  20. ^ ftp://ftp.aip.org/epaps/phys_rev_lett/E-PRLTAO-98-047705/
  21. ^ Meshcheryakov, Oleg (2007). "Ball Lightning–Aerosol Electrochemical Power Source or A Cloud of Batteries". Nanoscale Res. Lett. 2 (3). DOI:10.1007/s11671-007-9068-2. Retrieved on 2007-06-27. 
  22. ^ "Ball lightning's frightening . . . but finally explained", EE Times, 29 August 2007. 
  23. ^ New Scientist, Vol. 192, No. 2583/2584, pages 48–51.
  24. ^ Wilder, Laura Ingalls (1937). On the Banks of Plum Creek. Harper Trophy. 
  25. ^ Getline, Meryl. "Playing with (St. Elmo's) fire", USA Today, 2005-10-17. 

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  Results from FactBites:
Ball lightning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1668 words)
Ball lightning takes the form of a short-lived, glowing, floating object often the size and shape of a basketball, but size can be as small as a golf ball or smaller.
Ball lightning discharges were once thought to be extremely rare occurrences, but recent research shows that a few percent of the US population have been witnesses.
Ball lightning has been seen in places as diverse as "escorting" World War II bombers, flying alongside their wingtips.
ball lightning (2436 words)
A typical ball is 4½ to 9 inches in diameter (with a maximum range between about half an inch and three feet) and glows most commonly red, orange, or yellow in color, though occasionally blue or white, with about the brightness of a domestic electric light.
Ashby and Whitehead proposed that ball lightning was caused by tiny grains of antimatter.
The likelihood remains that ball lightning is some kind of esoteric electromagnetic effect – a sphere of ionized gas, or plasma, held together by electric and magnetic fields.
  More results at FactBites »



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