What we know about ball lightning?

October 23, 2011 23:40

Thunderball — not identified by mainstream science autonomous spherical object emitting bright light but not heat. Existence is confirmed by eyewitnesses.

Currently has about 200 theories of origin.

In the absence of reproducible experimental data, all information is based on eyewitness accounts, and only rarely on the photo or film footage. This leads us to question the very existence of the phenomenon.

Stories about seeing a fireball known for two thousand years. The first statistical study of these reports was conducted Frenchman F. Arago 150 years ago.

His book has been described 30 cases of ball lightning. Statistics is small, and it is not surprising that many physicists of the last century, including Kelvin and Faraday were inclined to believe that this is either an optical illusion, or a phenomenon quite different, non-electrical nature. However, since then the number and quality of reports has increased, and today about 10 000 documented cases of ball lightning.

Ball lightning is always displayed in the stormy, stormy weather, often, but not necessarily, in addition to conventional lightning. Most often it seems to be "out" of the conductors or generated by conventional lightning, sometimes descends from the clouds, in rare cases — suddenly appears in the air, or, as the eyewitnesses may be withdrawn from any object (tree, pole).

Most often, the fireball moves horizontally, about a meter above the ground, quite chaotic. Tends to "go" in the room, while squeezing through small holes. Ball lightning is often accompanied by sound effects — bang, squeak noise. Directs the radio. There are cases when the observed fireball flies neatly in the path of objects, since, according to one theory, the fireball moves freely on the equipotential surfaces.

Ball lightning in the lives of the average 10 seconds to several hours, after which usually explodes. Occasionally she slowly goes out or split into separate parts. If at rest on ball lightning comes unusually low heat, then the explosion released energy sometimes destroys or melts objects evaporates water.

The size (diameter) of the ball lightning varies from a few centimeters to a meter. Form the vast majority of spherical, but there were reports of the observation of elongated, disk-shaped, pear-shaped fireballs.

Typical total radiation power — about 100 W glow sometimes darker, sometimes brighter. Color — from white and yellow, and the last green. Often noted spotting glow.

I must admit that it is only of the attempt — not a single case of the artificial production of such a natural ball lightning in the laboratory, except the inventor Trunov VD, founder of the Center sharomolnievyh research, get a full fireball on their patented installation at getting the ball lightning have been reported, basic data, allowing not only to understand the formation of ball lightning, but also to use it for commercial purposes. But still not able Trunov register his discovery of the "phenomenon of ball lightning formation" due to lack of Ukraine legal framework for registration is open.

First, since the appearance of ball lightning was an explicit reference to the other forms of atmospheric electricity (for example, conventional lightning), most of the experiments carried out in the following way: to create a gas discharge (and the glow of the gas discharge — something known), and then look for the conditions under which glow discharge could be in the form of a spherical body.

The first such attempt can be considered Tesla's experiments in the late XIX century. In his brief note he says that, under certain conditions, igniting a gas discharge, he, after switching off the voltage observed spherical luminous discharge diameter 6.2 cm, however, Tesla did not give details of his experiment, so it is very difficult to play.

Since then, the situation has not changed. Researchers can obtain short-term gas discharges spherical lived most a few seconds. However, the question remains about the relationship of these discharges with the fireball that occurs in nature.

Directly from observations follow such properties of ball lightning:

First, the ball lightning is associated with electricity, that is, the electrical phenomena in gases. In the course of its origin or life is extremely important to the presence of a strong electric field created by the gas discharge.

Second, it is clear that the ball lightning is the very high temperatures — why she glows. Rather, this area consists of a plasma — in fact at temperatures of several thousand degrees Kelvin, the gas passes into the plasma state.

Finally, it is clear that the ball lightning — it is not stable and metastable system. This is, apparently, the collapse of a plasmoid, but for some reason very slow.

Questions and puzzles

We can formulate some questions, the answers to which should give a complete theory of ball lightning:

— Why fireball so stable? After all, if a gaseous education, that at these temperatures the gas or plasma immediately mix with the surrounding air. What prevents such mixing?

— Where does this form of resistance? This should indicate a very strong surface tension at the boundary separating the fireball from the surrounding atmosphere. Is that possible at the interface of two gases?
— Why fireball does not float? After a cloud of hot gas should emerge under the influence of Archimedes!

— As ball lightning manages to exist for such a long time? After all, if the plasma inside it, and if not feed energy from the outside, why do not recombine immediately plasma? Maybe there is external support for energy, invisible to the eye?

— Where in such a fireball energy stocks (and it is estimated that a typical fireball contains hundreds of kilojoules)?

— As ball lightning manages to avoid obstacles to flow through small holes? After all, if it's just a charge, it must be drawn to the surrounding bodies. Why is not manifest the simple laws of electrostatics?

Some hypotheses about the nature of ball lightning

All hypotheses about the nature of ball lightning can be divided into two classes on the basis of location of the energy source that supports the existence of ball lightning. This — the hypothesis suggesting an external source and consider the hypothesis that the source is inside the fireball.

Even if we consider only predictions published in major scientific journals, the number of theoretical models that with varying degrees of success, describe the phenomenon and answer these questions in the tens. Here are some of them.

For example, the hypothesis Kapitza cloud to ground a standing electromagnetic wave, and when it reaches a critical amplitude, in a place (usually close to the ground) there is breakdown of the air, formed a gas discharge. In this case, the fireball turns out to be "strung" on the lines of force of the standing wave and will move along the conducting surfaces. The standing wave is then responsible for energizing the fireball.

A fundamentally different hypothesis suggests Smirnov, working on the problem of ball lightning many years. At the core of his theory of ball lightning — is a twisted cell structure, a kind of airgel, which provides a solid frame with low weight. Only the thread frame — this thread plasma rather than solid. And energy reserves fireball completely hidden in the huge surface energy of a microporous structure. Thermodynamic calculations based on this model, in principle, does not contradict the observed data.

Another theory explains the totality of the phenomena observed thermochemical effects occurring in a saturated water vapor in the presence of a strong electric field. Energy ball lightning is determined by the heat of chemical reactions involving water molecules and ions. Author of the theory believe that it gives a clear answer to the mystery of ball lightning.

Interesting hypothesis suggests Professor of Samara Aerospace University. In his opinion, ball lightning is a bunch of low-temperature plasma radioactivity appearing in the process?-Decay of radioactive phosphorus in the bound state. In other words, the root causes lie outside the fireball physics of electrical discharges in gases.

Which of the theories is reliable — it is easy to check: the criterion will serve as an experiment. Let him any theory can clearly say exactly how you can create ball lightning in the lab.

It is this theory, a method of creating an unusual state of matter that can accumulate and save a lot of time energy, is the assumption that ball lightning — is Rydberg matter. Group L.Holmlid. who prepare Rydberg in a laboratory while not to produce fireballs, but mainly in order to obtain high-power electron and ion fluxes, using the fact that the work function of the Rydberg matter is very small, a few tenths of an electron volt. The assumption that ball lightning is Rydberg matter, describes much more than its observed properties, the ability to appear in different conditions, consist of different atoms, and the ability to walk through walls and restore the spherical form. Condensate Rydberg matter are also trying to explain the plasmoids produced in liquid nitrogen.

A completely new and unexpected approach to the explanation of the nature of ball lightning is offered during the last six years in the publications by which the fireball is incoherent optical spatial solitons, whose curvature is non-zero. That translates into more accessible language, ball lightning is a thin layer of highly compressed air, which is circulated in all directions normal intense white light. The light produced by them electrostriction pressure compresses the air. In turn, the compressed air acts as an optical fiber, which prevents the emission of light in free space. We can say that the ball lightning — is self-terminating intense light or light bladder arising from the usual linear lightning. As is usual with a light beam, the light bubble in the earth's atmosphere is shifted in the direction of the gradient of the refractive index of air in which it is located. The above approach allows us to answer some of the above items to separate the issues and puzzles. As to attempts to play the ball lightning laboratory, the Nauer in 1953 and 1956, reported on the production of luminous objects, the observational properties are completely consistent with the properties of light bubbles. Optical properties of bubbles can be theoretically based on the accepted laws of physics. Nauerom observed objects are not exposed to electric and magnetic fields and emit light from the surface, they can avoid obstacles and keep integrity after penetrating through the small openings. Nauer assumed that the nature of these objects is not connected to electricity. The relatively short lifetime of such objects (a few seconds) due to the low stored energy is used for low power electrical discharge. With an increase in stored energy increases the degree of compression of the air in the envelope of a light bubble, leading to improved ability of the fiber to limit circulating in it light and a corresponding increase in the lifetime of a light bubble. Work Nauera represent a unique case where the experimental confirmation of the theory appeared in the 50 years before the theory itself.

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