Ball lighting is one of many physical mysteries our world is still hiding from us. It is so mysterious that until 1960s some scientists asked “is ball lightning real?” And although today we know that it really exists, there are still many things we have yet to understand.
Ball lightning – definition
Ball lightning is an atmospheric ghost light – a phenomenon described as luminous ball-like object lasting for a few seconds before fading out or exploding. Reports are not unanimous about the size of the sphere – some say it’s no bigger than a cherry, while others claim they have several meters in diameter. They are frequently seen during storms, simultaneously with lightning discharges.
Ball lightning are rarely stationery – they tend to move, most often horizontally. Although they are most visible in the dark, strength of their light is roughly the same as the light of typical desk lamp, which makes it possible to spot them in a daylight. The phenomenon is considered to be very dangerous and able to kill several people at once, if approached.
What causes ball lightning?
And that’s where the mystery begins – no one knows what causes ball lightnings. Not so long ago many considered them to be no more than a myth. Due to their unknow nature and unpredictable appearances they are extremely hard to study. Which of course doesn’t mean that nobody is trying.
There are several hypotheses as how ball lightnings are created, although to this date there isn’t one official explanation. Scientists have been trying to artificially recreate ball lightning in laboratories all over the world, often succeeding to produce visually similar effects. However, as we remain unsure of ball lightnings true nature, we cannot determine if the artificial and natural ones are related.