Ball Lightning Discussions/Anecdotes?

  • #26
1,463
2,846
New to the forums. Hoping to find a thread, forum, website dedicated to the discussion of/gathering of anecdotal reports of ball lightning.
I've seen ball lightning at least once and maybe twice.
I have never seen a ball lightning, but I have heard about the phenomenon. And I have got a story about it which I will share, for what it's worth :wink:.

My father, who is a down to earth, no-nonsense guy, have told me that he has witnessed the phenomenon. I estimate it happened about 35 years ago.

Since I am very interested in science and physics, I have interrogated him about the observation :smile:, e.g. when and where it happened, what it looked like, how large it was, how it moved and if other observations were made. And here is the brief report:

When: About 35 years ago, during a period of thunderstorms. I don't remember the time of day, but he told me he observed it for several minutes.

Where: South Sweden.

Size: About 1 meter in diameter.

Appearance: Spherical, but not a perfectly smooth surface.

Color: Yellowish/Greenish (If I remember correctly).

Movement: It moved very slowly.

Other observations: He says there was a foul smell in the air too, a bit like sulphur.

Now, this is only an anecdote and not evidence of the physical existence of the phenomenon. With regards to ball lightning, I'm open-minded and don't rule it out, but I remain skeptical until there is firm evidence of the actual phenomenon, like at least a number of credible photos/videos and, preferably, if the phenomenon could be artificially replicated in experiments.

Edit: We have had thunderstorms here recently, so I will be keeping my camera close and my eyes open 😄 .
 
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  • #27
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0
David Fryberger at SLAC is one of the few experts on ball lightning; look up his work. ( http://www.slac.stanford.edu/pubs/slacpubs/6250/slac-pub-6473.pdf) One of the
most interesting observations about ball lightning is that it apparently emits a small amount of annihilation
radiation, which are the 511 keV gammas that result from electron positron annihilation. How fairly low enegy
ball lightning could generate positrons is a great mystery. These gamma rays have been observed in association with ball lightning events in aircraft.
 
  • #28
Summary: Where Can I Find Discussions On Ball Lightning?

New to the forums. Hoping to find a thread, forum, website dedicated to the discussion of/gathering of anecdotal reports of ball lightning.

My mother's best friend witnessed what we believe is ball lightning in her home yesterday. She didn't get photos or video, but took some photos of odd marks on the window where the object supposedly entered her home.

I'm looking to share her story and/or discuss ball lightning in general - any forums or websites. All I have been able to find elsewhere are skeptical/woo/metaphysical discussions, which I'm not interested in.

Any advice or a point in the right direction is very much appreciated. Thanks!
My uncle, many years ago, had ball lightning come down his S/w antenna wire, drop to the ground, fizzle under a door leaving slight scorch marks, squeezed out through a crack in a stone wall, down a path and disappeared into the ground at the base of a tree. He had followed it ! He had designed and built the first s/w radio link between Bombay and Cactutta amongst many other things.
 
  • #29
pinball1970
Gold Member
639
613
I have answered this already. You are not responding to what I wrote, so no discussion is possible.

Note, I already posted that link plus a non paywalled link, plus a link to the video. You try to make it seem like you have added something I missed. This is disingenuous.
I was confused by the spectra, why on earth would there by emission spectra from Ca, Fe, Si in the air?? Conclusion is the origin is soil!
The paper does say this may not be every origin of BL.
Interesting though, never heard of it till this thread. I'll read it in detail as best I can. Edit @Heikki Tuuri already noted this
 
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  • #30
pinball1970
Gold Member
639
613
I have never seen a ball lightning, but I have heard about the phenomenon. And I have got a story about it which I will share, for what it's worth :wink:.

My father, who is a down to earth, no-nonsense guy, have told me that he has witnessed the phenomenon. I estimate it happened about 35 years ago.

Since I am very interested in science and physics, I have interrogated him about the observation :smile:, e.g. when and where it happened, what it looked like, how large it was, how it moved and if other observations were made. And here is the brief report:

When: About 35 years ago, during a period of thunderstorms. I don't remember the time of day, but he told me he observed it for several minutes.

Where: South Sweden.

Size: About 1 meter in diameter.

Appearance: Spherical, but not a perfectly smooth surface.

Color: Yellowish/Greenish (If I remember correctly).

Movement: It moved very slowly.

Other observations: He says there was a foul smell in the air too, a bit like sulphur.

Now, this is only an anecdote and not evidence of the physical existence of the phenomenon. With regards to ball lightning, I'm open-minded and don't rule it out, but I remain skeptical until there is firm evidence of the actual phenomenon, like at least a number of credible photos/videos and, preferably, if the phenomenon could be artificially replicated in experiments.

Edit: We have had thunderstorms here recently, so I will be keeping my camera close and my eyes open 😄 .
The smell will be related to whatever has been exited burned or vaporised. Soil according to the paper but it could be some something Sulphur rich. If this is an actual thing that is.
 
  • #31
arivero
Gold Member
3,292
54
Summary: Where Can I Find Discussions On Ball Lightning?
In geocities. And also in sci.physics

Hey it was a traditional topic in the first age of internet.
 
  • #32
1,463
2,846
The smell will be related to whatever has been exited burned or vaporised. Soil according to the paper but it could be some something Sulphur rich. If this is an actual thing that is.
I think the links posted by @PAllen were very interesting. The third reference in this article was to this paper which described one model:

John Abrahamson & James Dinniss,
Ball lightning caused by oxidation of nanoparticle networks from normal lightning strikes on soil
Nature volume 403, pages 519–521 (2000)
http://www.nature.com/articles/35000525

and the associated article Fluff balls of fire contained a photograph from 1978 claimed to be of a ball lightning.

Concerning the anecdote I posted, I also remembered that my father said nothing more dramatic happened, like any explosion or collision with other objects. If I remember correctly he said it just vanished after a while. But he told me that he got quite scared by the event, since he had not seen anything like it at all before.

As I said, I'm pretty open-minded with regards to ball lightning. There are other weird phenomena like St. Elmo's fire, and someone posted a link to a very cool video of it in this thread.

The thunderstorms are over for now here. I did not see any ball lightning. :cry:

EDIT: I read the abstract of the paper I posted a link to above, quote:
Abstract of paper said:
Observations of ball lightning have been reported for centuries, but the origin of this phenomenon remains an enigma. The ‘average’ ball lightning appears as a sphere with a diameter of 300 mm, a lifetime of about 10 s, and a luminosity similar to a 100-W lamp. It floats freely in the air, and ends either in an explosion, or by simply fading from view. It almost invariably occurs during stormy weather. Several energy sources have been proposed to explain the light, but none of these models has succeeded in explaining all of the observed characteristics.
...which made me remember that I also asked my father how bright it was, and he said it was bright, but not blindingly bright. Which at least to me seems to fit the description "luminosity similar to a 100-W lamp" in the abstract.
 
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