The Ball lightning reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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Ball lightning

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Ball lightning is a natural phenomenon wherein electrical discharges from rain clouds manifest as floating objects rather than the more typical arcing circuit completions seen in more common lightning. The process of ball lightning formation was first described by Nikola Tesla on March 5, 1904 (Electrical World and Engineer). [1]

Table of contents
1 Reports
2 Analysis
3 Alternative Analysis
5 See also
6 Futher reading
7 External links


Ball lightning discharges are an extremely rare occurrence and details of witness accounts can vary widely. For a long time the phenomenon was treated as myth. However, there is now consensus.

The discharges tend to float or hover in the air and take on a ball-like or near ball-like appearance. The shape is spherical, ovoid, teardrop, or rod-like with no dimension being much larger than the others. The longest dimension is between fifteen and forty centimeters. Most are red to yellow in color, depending on the amount of trace impurities such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide present. Structure is described as a translucent envelope and glowing plasma inside, the whole mass showing signs of internal forces and a burning appearance (Barry, 1980). Sometimes the discharge is reported to be attracted to a certain object, while others claim the discharge moves on its own volition or just randomly. Eventually the discharge either leaves, disperses, or is absorbed into something.


Although accounts can vary significantly, a generally accepted model can be synthesized. Most scientists would expect it to be some sort of electrified plasma enclosed by a magnetic field (possibly generated by itself), an extreme atmospheric ionization effect, an electrically induced matter phase change in the air such as heated oxygen, or perhaps a temporary visible disruption of Earth's magnetic field caused by ordinary lightning.

No known attempts to create ball lightning in the lab have succeeded, suggesting the phenomenon requires extraordinary power and other conditions. There are claims of ball lightning-like effects created by microwave ovens.

Alternative Analysis

Many people also believe the ball lightning phenomenon to be spirits. References can be seen in the will o' the wisp and other spirits that take the guise of orbs of light.

Some UFO skeptics have suggested that many apparent close encounters are actually observations of ball lightning. UFO enthusiasts report seeing ball lightning often at crop circle sites and believe them to be some kind of intelligence or come from some kind of intelligence while not denying that it is indeed ball lightning.


"...Our conclusion is that these fireballs are primarily RF in origin, and not nuclear phenomena..." - Corum

"...No theory of ball lightning exists which can account for both the degree of mobility that the ball exhibits and for the fact that it does not rise...." - Talbot

See also

Futher reading

External links