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What is the physics of a lighting ball?

  1. Aug 11, 2005 #1

    box

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    I've heard of fire balls caused by lighting that float around for a while and can pass through a window. what are these?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 11, 2005 #2

    Danger

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    Ball lightning has been a bit of an enigma in the past. A lot of people still don't believe that it really exists. As nearly as I can determine, it appears to be a 'plasmoid'; ie. a semi-coherent mass of low-temperature plasma that can mimic the actions of a physical entity. All of the buzzing, humming, colour effects, etc.. seem to be associated with the intense EM field.
    (My great aunt, sometime in the late 1880's, had one come down her chimney, blow open the door of her pot-belly stove, then bounce across the floor and pop out of existence just before hitting the far wall.)
    It has been artificially created in labs, but never seems to stick around long enough to be properly studied.
    This is as of my last exposure to the subject, but it's pretty old. Better experiments have probably taken place since.
     
  4. Aug 11, 2005 #3

    wolram

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    The last i read the plasma therory did not fit, "ball lightning", as AFAIK it
    does not emit heat, i think it was proposed that negatively charged nitrates
    and positively charged hydrogen could produce the BL effect.
    But it could be that there is more than one type of BL, as reports of the
    activity of these, "orbs", very wildly.
    Ivan seeking, may be up to date on BL and the best one to ask.
     
  5. Aug 11, 2005 #4

    Danger

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    I did specifically refer to it as a low temperature plasma. We might not be using the same definition of 'plasma', though. I just mean group of positively ionized atoms sharing a bunch of free-lance electrons.
     
  6. Aug 11, 2005 #5

    wolram

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    No disagreement, Danger, i did have a link for all the reported actions, colours
    etc of BL sightings, it seems very unlikely that any one thing can fit all.
    i will try to find it if it is of interest.
     
  7. Aug 11, 2005 #6

    Danger

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    Please. This is one of those things that I really never think about until someone else mentions it, then I get fascinated for a while, then drift away again. Now that I'm living in PF, anything that I can learn about this will not only satisfy my own curiosity, but will likely help with other matters of physics and electricity.
     
  8. Aug 11, 2005 #7

    wolram

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  9. Aug 11, 2005 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    We have many links for information about ball lightning in the Credible Anomalies sticky thread in the S&D forum.
    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=58374

    For example:
    http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaP...abs/403519a0_fs.html&dynoptions=doi1104708867

    and

    http://www.erh.noaa.gov/car/WCM/Maine-Ly Weather/Spring 2004/convectiveamateurs.htm

    It is now generally accepted by meteorologists [atmospheric scientists] that ball lightning is real.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2005
  10. Aug 11, 2005 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    I should add that there are other forms of fireballs not considered to be ball lightning. Also from the Credible Anomalies thread:

    http://www.tatnews.org/emagazine/1611.asp

    http://www.science-frontiers.com/sf074/sf074g14.htm

    There is also a class of objects reported call superbolides
    http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/metsoc2001/pdf/5002.pdf
     
  11. Aug 11, 2005 #10

    Danger

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    Thanks, guys. This is going to keep me busy for a while.
     
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