Lightning is exciting and frightful at the same time. Of course we all know that, but here are some facts about nature's flashy display that are sure to stun!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Negative and Positive Charge

Many people don't know that a lightning bolt can have either a positive or a negative charge. What we usually see striking the Earth are actually negative bolts. These are produced when the lower part of a cloud becomes so saturated with negatively charged particles that it will "short circuit" resulting in the formation of the bolt. On the other hand, positive bolts dissipate and are largely unseen. Even so, they still carry a deadly charge.


Ball Lightning

A dramatic report of ball lightning comes from a housewife in the Midlands area of England on August 8, 1975. She was in her kitchen in Smethwick during a very strong thunderstorm. A sphere of light about ten centimeters in diameter and surrounded by a bright purple halo appeared over the stove.


The witness is quoted in saying "The ball seemed to hit me below the belt, as it were, and I automatically brushed it away from me and it disappeared. Where I brushed it away there appeared a redness and swelling on my left hand. It seemed as if my gold wedding ring was burned into my finger" and also reported that it vanished with a bang!"

Friday, September 17, 2010


Did you know that lightning is capable of generating a temperature of twenty seven thousand degrees Fahrenheit and can travel at a speed of twenty thousand miles per second?

It strikes somewhere on the earth a staggering six thousand times per minute and generates approximately one hundred million tons of nitrogen out of the air per year. In fact, a powerful lightning bolt can produce enough energy to lift a large ocean liner an amazing six feet into the air.


A bolt of "fossilized lightning" that has been dated to be two hundred million years old was discovered on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona.

The fossil was identified by Geologist Michael Purucker because the local magnetic field strength surrounding the discharge site was still strong enough to re-magnetized grains of magnetic minerals in the rock samples lying near the path of the lightning bolt.

Lightning has hit the Empire State Building as often as twelve times in twenty minutes and as frequently as five hundred times a year.

The most powerful lightning strike ever recorded in the United States struck the Cathedral of Learning of the University of Pittsburgh on July 31, 1947. The bolt discharged approximately three hundred forty five thousand amps. This was enough current to light six hundred thousand 60W light bulbs for the duration of the flash which is only thirty five millionths of a second.


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