In a discussion about lightning destroying electronics on sailboats the issue of controlling lightning came up. One member (Baluncore) proposed that lightning is completely predictable. I've been taught that lightning is somewhat random. To me, random implies non-linear equations with sensitive dependence on initial conditions (the butterfly effect). Yet the equations lightning seems to follow are linear as far as I can tell. A puzzling note is the tendency of lightning to shoot halfway down a conductor, then jump off it and through the hull of a fiberglass boats rather than following the wire to water on the side of a boat. So am I missing some non-linearity, or is it possible to model lightning well enough to prevent deaths analytically rather than just statistically? (The way lightning protection works now seems to be to throw enough lightning rods up to statistically catch most of it. I'd like to think there's a better way.) Do lightning charge carriers gain enough momentum to keep going despite the fairly strong forces bending them? In air, it would seem they might gain relativistic speeds (with millions of volts potential), but in copper? It doesn't seem likely. And if lightning wants to go straight so badly, why does it zig zag across the sky?