Lightning - Essay Example

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For generations it has amazed human beings not only by how quickly it appears and disappears, but also by the incredibly power and force it possesses. In plain terms, lightning is a discharge of electricity from clouds in the sky…
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LIGHTNING Lightning is a fascinating natural phenomenon. For generations it has amazed human beings not only by how quickly it appears and disappears, but also by the incredibly power and force it possesses. In plain terms, lightning is a discharge of electricity from clouds in the sky. No one is exactly sure how it forms, but it may involve particles of dust or ice in clouds rubbing together and separating the positive and negative charges and therefore generating electricity.
What are some of the properties that scientists apply to this almost unbelievable natural phenomenon? To begin with, lightning contains a massive amount of energy. If it strikes a tree or a house it can destroy it due to the massive transfer of heat. Lightning can heat the air around it to almost 20,000 degrees Celsius which is about three times the temperature of the sun. So much energy travels so quickly in a lightning strike that it creates a supersonic wave which normal people call thunder. Because light travels faster than the speed of sound you usually see the lightning before you hear the thunder on a stormy day.1
It is often said that electricity was discovered by Benjamin Franklin when he went to go fly a kite in a big storm. It is true that the idea of harnessing the power of electricity came to him at that time, though others had carried out similar observations and experiments in the past.2 Even though this helped our understanding of static electricity, not a lot of new information has been learnt about lightning in recent years, how to harness it or use it for human purposes. This is unfortunate. Because of global warming we need new ideas about how to generate energy without harming the environment. If scientists can learn more, we may be able to use lightning to save the planet.
Works consulted
Christian, Dr. Hugh J. and Melanie A. McCook. "A Lightning Primer - Characteristics of a Storm." NASA. Retrieved on 2009-03-03.
Krider, E. Philip. "Benjamin Franklin and the First Lightning Conductors", Proceedings of International Commission on History of Meteorology. 2004. p 3-4.
Allen, Sterling D. Pure Energy Systems News (2005). "BLAM-O!! Power from Lightning." Pure Energy Systems.
Rakov, Vladimir A. Lightning: Physics and Effects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Uman, Martin A.. All about Lightning. London: Courier Dover Publications, 1986. Read More
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