Evidence for Ball Lightning?
by Mike Weaver
January 21, 2014
Whether or not ball lightning exists as a physical phenomenon is a question still under considerable debate. Our own Skeptoid has dug into the phenomenon in the past. A recently published paper brings new evidence into the debate. Let's take a look!
The paper, Observation of the Optical and Spectral Characteristics of Ball Lightning by Jianyong Cen, Ping Yuan, and Simin Xue, was published last week in the Physical Review Letters of the American Physical Society. The researchers managed to capture video and spectrographs of a rare case of ball lightning while doing video captures of regular lightning. The paper itself is not available without buying it, but Philip Ball, a freelance writer with the American Physical Society, provides a good write up. His article also provides an image and the video of the ball lightning (with spectrograph) for us to view. Take a look.
The article describes ball lightning as:
It is noted that glowing plasma balls have been created in the lab via various mechanisms, but that these may or may not be representative of naturally occurring ball lightning. The article continues:
Happily, this observation included a spectrograph. Analysis of the spectrum revealed:
Bob Yirka of PhysOrg also reported on the paper. He writes:
Interesting stuff. Be sure to check out the video on the APS site. The video is time expanded from 1.5 seconds (real time) to 10 seconds to make it more clear. While video evidence is compelling in many cases, the spectrographic evidence is very compelling in this case. It allows us to more easily rule out hoaxes, artificial light sources, and misidentified lights. While the questions of ball lightning are not yet settled, this evidence strongly argues for the reality of the phenomenon and gives pointers for further research.
by Mike Weaver
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