August 28, 2003

Lightning Research

Two guys are talking, and the first says, "My wife drives like lightning."

"Drives fast, eh?", says his friend.

"Nah. She hits trees."

Over the last couple of days, we've had massive waves of thunderstorms plow through the area, leaving thousands without power. The storm last night put on a spectacular light show, with frequent lightning in every direction.

Other than flying a kite in the rain (not recommended despite historical precedence), how do we learn about this phenomenon?

It is possible to artificially generate lightning to study it, but it's difficult and expensive. In addition, you're not necessarily duplicating the environmental conditions that produce lightning. An alternative is to use rockets to induce a lightning strike in a specific area where scientific instruments are located.

There are some spectacular photos on that page, as well many interesting links. If you're interested in seeing the process in action, there are QuickTime movie clips here and here.

Posted by Ted at August 28, 2003 11:01 AM
Category: Rocketry

Love the little cartoon!

Posted by: Pixy Misa at August 28, 2003 01:21 PM

A friend at work did that for me. He's great!

Posted by: Ted at August 28, 2003 02:59 PM
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