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Lightning/electricity question

  1. Dec 26, 2014 #1
    Okay- first off, I know enough science to sound like an idiot, so please be gentle :-)

    Now, IF you had a dragon that generated an electrical charge, it wouldn't be able to direct it, lightning-style, without being able to generate an opposite charge at it's target- right? So in essence, to shot a bolt of lightning, the dragon would have to create a charge in the ground or on it's target, and charge itself at the same time- right?

    If the above is right, then would a target, particularly a person, sitting on a rubber or EPDM sheet, be immune to this discharge?

    Or alternatively, would the target be best to hide in a Faraday Cage?

    This is all for a post-apocalypse sci-fantasy sort of thing, so I don't mind rewriting some rules of physics, but not outrageously so.

    Thank you so much in advance!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 27, 2014 #2

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    It flies, it picks up plenty of static charge ---- remember the scene in Red October?
    Plenty of gamma sources around, build those into the beast's diet/metabolism in some sort of lead shielded tonsils. Open mouth leak a little gamma radiation along path to target, ionizing enough air to start the static discharge, and blast. Could be made plausible.
    There's a thread in Classical Physics about lightning and automobiles discussing just this point.
     
  4. Dec 27, 2014 #3
    Excellent- very handy info to get started with! Thanks
     
  5. Jan 16, 2015 #4
    Check this out for some lightning dynamics.
    Assuming the dragon is flying, the lightning will preferentially hit taller conductive objects.
    Both people on insulators and people in cages would be protected to some extent. The former would not likely get targeted, and the latter would channel the energy around the person. The dragon wouldn't really be able to aim.

    This is the behavior in a strongly collisional regime. In a weakly collisional regime, such as a near vacuum, you can get a beam of electrons, as in a cathode ray, and you can direct the beam in any direction you want.
     
  6. Jan 16, 2015 #5
    Very useful- thank you!
     
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