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Ball lightning = magn. induced phosphenes?

  1. May 22, 2010 #1
    A recent explanation for "the majority of ball lightning observations":
    Is this plausible?
    A way to debunk this would be to find credible ball lightning videos(maybe on youtube), but i dont know if there are any.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 22, 2010 #2
    Plausible, but ball lightning seems to be such a collection of phenomena, real and possibly imagined, that I don't know that "majority" is something that can be said with any degree of confidence. Then again, this is just a hypothesis, so I tend to be more open minded.
  4. May 22, 2010 #3
    It's plausible lightning could induce phosphenes but not too plausible to me that phosphenes could be mistaken for external phenomena.

    Both my sister and I have had phosphenes in our vision, probably a small migraine aura, and it's apparent they are connected to your vision, not a part of the external world: you turn your head and the phosphene stays with you the way a drop of water on your eyeglasses stays with you. In the same way it's clear a drop on your glasses isn't a blob of bluriness floating around in the envirnoment around you, it's clear phosphenes are a glitch in your vision, and not part of the external world.

    I'd say this is the least likely explanation for ball lightning I've read.
  5. May 22, 2010 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    At best, this might explain some instances of alleged ball lighthing sightings, but the explanation would not be consistent with the properties or characteristics typically associated with ball lighthing. For example, in some cases, objects have been physically damaged when the plasmoid exploded with a bang. I remember seeing one photo of a house in Japan, that had significant damage to the roof, from ball lightning, according to a number of witnesses.

    There are believed to be a few credible photos of ball lighthning.

    See post #3 in this thread for additional information

    It is generally stated in scientific references, that ball lightning is a real phenomenon [or phenomena].
    Last edited: May 22, 2010
  6. May 23, 2010 #5
    I just realised that i often have phosphenes also. With me it happens when ive just switched the lights off at night, and then when i move my eyes quickly left or right i see a bright white stripe of light in the corners of one or both my eyes. Because it is so quick(lasts about a quarter of a second), i cannot easily notice that it moves along with the movement of my head. When i first got this i would think "what the hell was that?". Even now that i know i have it, im sometimes suprised by it. I never connected it to lightning or ball lightning. Maybe i would have if i had first seen it during a thunderstorm.
  7. May 27, 2010 #6
    Ball lightning covers the realm from transient balls of light, to, as Ivan has said, explosions. There have been reports of it appearing in an airplane. To me, this suggests that this is not a single complex phenomenon, but a number of different ones. I cannot imagine anyone mistaking phosphenes for anything but a visual artifact, as they track with the eyes, and do not really fit common descriptions of ball lightning. I can understand why that notion would seem more palatable than some kind of impossible-seeming plasma, or the like.
  8. May 29, 2010 #7
    My mom and grandma once saw some strange electrical effect. They always said it was 'ball lightning'. Here's basically the account:

    They were inside near the window. Can't remember whether it was open or closed (I cant remember. My mom probably does though). They saw a flash instantaneously accompanied by an earsplitting thunderclap. About half a second to a second later, throught the window came a teardrop bolt of energy traveling at several meters per second (fast, but definately fast enough to track, unlike lighning, which cannot be tracked). They said it looked like a standard sci fi directed energy weapon (in the movies, all the guns shoot candy colored energy blasts that go "pew pew pew") but it was blue-white (the color of lightining/spark plasma). The thing followed a curved path, appearing to be attracted to my grandmother's metal ring, but did not hit her. It just seemed deflected by the ring, like slingshot with unviersal gravity. The object flew away and out of sight. Upon inspection the next morning, It was clear that lightning had struck a nearby tree. Their interpretation of what happened was that this was some kind of secondary effect, happening after the main strike, maybe coming off the tree or somehow being induced by it.
  9. Jul 1, 2010 #8
    Any normal person can induce Phosphenes harmlessly.

    Simply close your eyes and swivel them to one side (look sideways), then just press with a finger in the outside corner of the eye looking away from that side.
    because the eye is round, you can exert gentle pressure on the retina and you will see the result as a luminous area in your field of vision on the opposite side to the pressure.

    A bang on the head can create the same effect but somewhat less painlessly.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2010
  10. Aug 16, 2010 #9
    I and other pilots have seen this, and it's accompanied by static on the radios. It's transient, at best, though one thing which may be happening is simple static buildup, but in the slipstream the coronal discharge appears all over the place.

    A good test would be to put a tesla coil in a wind tunnel.

    That may very well be, as I've seen pictures and read descriptions of "ball lightening" which are significantly different that what I've seen.
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