Down comes a deluge of sonorous hail, Or prone-descending rain. Wide-rent, the clouds Pour a whole flood, and yet, its flame unquenched, Th'unconquerable lightning struggles through. Ragged and fierce, or in red whirling balls, And fires the mountains with redoubled rage. Black from the stroke, above, the smould'ring pine Stands a sad shattered trunk; and, stretched below, A lifeless group the blasted cattle lie. James Thompson, "The Seasons" (1727) have been investigating ball lightning for more than two decades. I published a ball lightning report in Nature in 1976 that received worldwide publicity and I consequently many people wrote to me with accounts of their own experiences. Within a very short time, I had accumulated about 200 firsthand accounts, and the file has continued to grow steadily since then. Several things impressed me. Few of those who wrote to me had any detailed foreknowledge of ball lightning at the time of their observation. Nonetheless, once reports of other phenomena such as St. Elmo's fire had been eliminated, the remaining descriptions were remarkably consistent. Furthermore, nearly all who contacted me were keen to have an explanation of what they had seen and seemed entirely sincere.
Preface. 1: The Study of Ball Lightning. 1.1. Definitions. 1.2. Explaining Ball Lightning Reports. 1.3. History of the Scientific Study of Ball Lightning. 1.4. Reported Characteristics. 1.5. Developing Models for Ball Lightning. 2: Thunderstorms and Lightning. 2.1. Introduction. 2.2. Thunderstorm Electricity. 2.3. Lightning. 2.4. Unusual Forms of Lightning. 2.5. Atmospherics and Radio Noise. 2.6. Recent Developments. 3: Phenomena that May Be Mistaken for Ball Lightning. 3.1. Physical Phenomena. 3.2. Physical Effects that Cause Distortion. 3.3. Psychological Aspects of Reports. 3.4. Limitations of Reports based on Visual Observation Alone. 3.5. The Importance of Physical Evidence. 4: Assessment of Electrical, Thermal, and Mechanical Risks. 4.1. Electrical Effects. 4.2. Thermal Effects. 4.3. Mechanical Effects. 5: Assessment of Risk of Death or Injury by Ball Lightning. 5.1. Deaths of Humans Attributed to Ball Lightning. 5.2. Deaths of Animals Attributed to Ball Lightning. 5.3. Injuries Attributed to Ball Lightning. 5.4. Summary. 5.5. Discussion. 5.6. Conclusions. 6: Assessment of Risk to Buildings. 6.1. Case Histories. 6.2. Interpretation. 6.3. Postscript: A Field Study. 7: Assessment of Risk to Aircraft. 7.1. Ball Lightning External to Aircraft. 7.2. Ball Lightning See Inside Aircraft. 7.3. Discussion. 8: Assessment of Risk to Trees. 8.1. No Clear Evidence of Contact Between Ball Lightning and a Tree. 8.2. Reports of Contact Between Ball Lightning and a Tree. 8.3. Conventional Linear Lightning and Trees. 8.4. Does Ball Lightning Damage Trees? 9: Photographs and Videotapes. 9.1. General Considerations. 9.2. Causes of Misidentification. 9.3. Still Photographs. 9.4. Films and Videotapes. 9.5. Instrumented Observations. 9.6. Conclusions. 10: The Existence of Ball Lightning. 10.1. The Problem of Random, Transient Phenomena. 10.2. Ockham's Razor and Other Philosophical Questions. 10.3. Skeptical Views. 10.4. Reliability of Reports. 10.5. Scientists and Skepticism. 10.6. Conclusions. 11: Ball Lightning Theories and Experiments. 11.1. Present Status of Ball Lightning Theory. 11.2. Aims of Ball Lightning Theory. 11.3. Classification of Models. 11.4. Plasma Models. 11.5. How is Ball Lightning Formed? 11.6. Energy Content of Ball Lightning. 12: Models Based on an Internal Energy Source. 12.1. Heated Sphere of Air. 12.2. Plasmoid and Vortex Plasma Ring Models. 12.3. Other Plasma Models. 12.4. Other Vortex Structures. 12.5. Internal Energy Models Powered by Electromagnetic Radiation. 12.6. Chemical Processes. 12.7. Dust, Droplets, Dirty Plasmas, Aerosols, and Fractal Structures. 12.8. Nuclear Processes. 12.9. Charge Separation. 12.10. Ions. 13: Models Based on an External Energy Sourc
Über den Autor
Formerly the scientific Director of the Ball Lightning Division of the Tornado and Storm Research Organisation (TORRO), Mark Stenhoff has been investigating ball lightning for more than two decades. After publishing a ball lightning report in Nature in 1976 that received worldwide publicity, Stenhoff rapidly accumulated over 200 first-hand accounts of personal experiences a collection that has continued to grow ever since.
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