It’s been awhile since I made a regular post, what with the release of the reading and all the excitement around that. It’s been fun and thoroughly enjoyable, but I really need to post the last article in the series on ball lightning.
The Wikipedia entry on it says, “. . . the true nature of ball lightning is unknown.” Against that disappointment it has a list of accounts of it, so you might find it interesting anyway.
Physicsworld has several articles on the phenomenon. The two most recent concentrate on silicon nanoparticles kicked out of the soil by a lightning strike, and transcranial magnetic stimulation of the visual cortex.
Phys.org has a story about scientists who have generated plasma clouds in the laboratory which resemble ball lightning.
Finally, Phys.org reports on a theory proposed this year that focused on the ball lightning that occurs in enclosed spaces, such as houses and airplanes. Significantly, this theory, supported by a mathematical solution, accounts for the way ball lightning has been reported to pass through glass. The nanoparticle and plasma hypotheses, for instance, do not accommodate passing through such a physical barrier.
Ball lightning is still mysterious, and the few people who get to witness it still find it to be a transcendent, if sometimes fatal, experience. But thanks to science, we’re also getting closer to understanding it.