Ball lightning made of dirt?!?! First spectra of rare phenomena in nature...

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posted on Jan, 19 2014 @ 10:03 PM
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That is what Ping Yuan and co-workers from Northwest Normal University in Lanzhou, China, now report. They had set up spectrometers on the remote Qinghai Plateau of northwest China to investigate ordinary lightning, which is frequent in this region. During one late-evening thunderstorm in July 2012, they saw ball lightning appear just after a lightning strike about 900 meters from their apparatus and were able to record a spectrum and high-speed video footage of the ball.




The researchers found that the spectrum contained several emission lines from silicon, iron, and calcium—all elements expected to be abundant in soil. One would also expect aluminum to be present, given its abundance in soil minerals. But the researchers couldn’t confirm that, as there are no emission lines of neutral aluminum atoms within the spectral range of their instrument (wavelengths of 400–1000 nanometers). The team also used their video data to plot the ball lightning’s intensity and apparent diameter as they varied in time, down to the millisecond time-scale.


Link to APS Physics source

Just thought this was interesting to find out that 'swamp gas' is real!
edit on 20-1-2014 by Gemwolf because: Fixed spelling in title




posted on Jan, 19 2014 @ 10:05 PM
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Oh gosh, typo in my header. Mod assist?



posted on Jan, 19 2014 @ 10:15 PM
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Link to the published paper.
edit on 19-1-2014 by someoneinnyc because: Changed source.



posted on Jan, 20 2014 @ 03:11 AM
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reply to post by someoneinnyc
 

This is a topic that interested me because it has been so mysterious and there has been a lack of data about ball lightning...some sources even said it's existence wasn't confirmed. Maybe they finally got lucky and recorded it so now the sources saying it hasn't been confirmed can be updated to finally say, now it's been recorded and confirmed?

They seem troubled by the lack of aluminum in the spectra, but I'm not sure what to make of that.



posted on Jan, 20 2014 @ 07:55 AM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 



troubled by the lack of aluminum in the spectra

A very common element in soil, so you'd expect it to show up.

Though as I understand it the absorption lines fall outside the range of their instrument.



posted on Jan, 20 2014 @ 07:59 AM
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Arbitrageur
reply to post by someoneinnyc
 

This is a topic that interested me because it has been so mysterious and there has been a lack of data about ball lightning...some sources even said it's existence wasn't confirmed. Maybe they finally got lucky and recorded it so now the sources saying it hasn't been confirmed can be updated to finally say, now it's been recorded and confirmed?

They seem troubled by the lack of aluminum in the spectra, but I'm not sure what to make of that.


The concern isn't really concerning. they didn't have the instrumentation to detect it. It was likely present, just not able to be detected.



posted on Jan, 20 2014 @ 12:40 PM
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someoneinnyc
Oh gosh, typo in my header. Mod assist?


Thanks, Mod, for the typo correction!



posted on Jan, 20 2014 @ 12:53 PM
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Arbitrageur
reply to post by someoneinnyc
 

This is a topic that interested me because it has been so mysterious and there has been a lack of data about ball lightning...some sources even said it's existence wasn't confirmed. Maybe they finally got lucky and recorded it so now the sources saying it hasn't been confirmed can be updated to finally say, now it's been recorded and confirmed?

They seem troubled by the lack of aluminum in the spectra, but I'm not sure what to make of that.


I concur with the other posters as to the article explaining why aluminum wasn't detected: lack of equipment's ability to detect that particular element.

Regarding whether or not this research confirms the existence of ball lightning, it appears to do just that! That is what is so interesting about it. Ball lightning has been produced in the lab but these researchers got lucky to capture it as a natural phenomena which is difficult because so little is known about where and when to observe it. And as you suggest, it was even speculated to be a myth. Obviously, this is just one research paper on one incidence of ball lightning, so we can't really say anything extensively conclusively. Another observation could find something completely different about ball lightning. But, this research does appear to verify that it actually happens in nature and not just in the lab or as myth.

Yes, this confirmation does get into the politics of scientific method and publishing, but it's still a fascinating find!



posted on Jan, 20 2014 @ 01:07 PM
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reply to post by bigfatfurrytexan
 


I think it has more to do with the evolution of our scientific understanding of such phenomena and the ignorance of some scientific claims. At one point science was certain ball lightning did not exist and this evolved to its existence not being confirmed. Now hopefully all of this ignorance can finally be put rest.

There is still much we do not understand about lightning so data like this certainly helps.



posted on Jan, 20 2014 @ 02:30 PM
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Devino
reply to post by bigfatfurrytexan
 


I think it has more to do with the evolution of our scientific understanding of such phenomena and the ignorance of some scientific claims. At one point science was certain ball lightning did not exist and this evolved to its existence not being confirmed. Now hopefully all of this ignorance can finally be put rest.

There is still much we do not understand about lightning so data like this certainly helps.


"confirmed" as pretty specious, though.



posted on Jan, 20 2014 @ 02:42 PM
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reply to post by Devino
 


ITA. Good points.




posted on Jan, 20 2014 @ 03:03 PM
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Has anyone observed the 'Marfa lights' in person? I have, and they fit the description of ball lightning perfectly from what I and several others observed. We saw more than a few over the course of an hour or so and through binoculars. It was too difficult to tell how far or how close they were or any perspective at all. I don't see how they could have been car headlights. I never saw two together and none of them tracked the same path. They all went up, at a slight angle or simply floated before disappearing. They did not have the same luminosity characteristics as car headlamps, they were more fuzzy, different sizes and changed color. Not bright colors but differentiated tints.

I've read some of the threads here on Marfa lights so I won't encourage too much of tangent but it may be related.





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