Thunderstorms proven to create antimatter

Thunderstorms have been shown to create positrons and send them to space. As the late, great, Johnny Carson of the Tonight Show used to say, “That is some weird, wild, stuff“.

NASA’s Fermi Catches Thunderstorms Hurling Antimatter into Space

TGFs produce high-energy electrons and positrons. Moving near the speed of light, these particles travel into space along Earth's magnetic field. High Energy Electrons in yellow, positrons in green- click to enlarge

Scientists using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected beams of antimatter produced above thunderstorms on Earth, a phenomenon never seen before.

Scientists think the antimatter particles were formed in a terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF), a brief burst produced inside thunderstorms and shown to be associated with lightning. It is estimated that about 500 TGFs occur daily worldwide, but most go undetected.

“These signals are the first direct evidence that thunderstorms make antimatter particle beams,” said Michael Briggs, a member of Fermi’s Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) team at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). He presented the findings Monday, during a news briefing at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle.

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has detected beams of antimatter launched by thunderstorms. Acting like enormous particle accelerators, the storms can emit gamma-ray flashes, called TGFs, and high-energy electrons and positrons. Scientists now think that most TGFs produce particle beams and antimatter. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Fermi is designed to monitor gamma rays, the highest energy form of light. When antimatter striking Fermi collides with a particle of normal matter, both particles immediately are annihilated and transformed into gamma rays. The GBM has detected gamma rays with energies of 511,000 electron volts, a signal indicating an electron has met its antimatter counterpart, a positron.

Although Fermi’s GBM is designed to observe high-energy events in the universe, it’s also providing valuable insights into this strange phenomenon. The GBM constantly monitors the entire celestial sky above and the Earth below. The GBM team has identified 130 TGFs since Fermi’s launch in 2008.

“In orbit for less than three years, the Fermi mission has proven to be an amazing tool to probe the universe. Now we learn that it can discover mysteries much, much closer to home,” said Ilana Harrus, Fermi program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Fermi’s Gamma-ray Burst Monitor detected 130 TGFs from August 2008 to the end of 2010. Thanks to instrument tweaks, the team has been able to improve the detection rate to several TGFs per week. Credit: NASA

The spacecraft was located immediately above a thunderstorm for most of the observed TGFs, but in four cases, storms were far from Fermi. In addition, lightning-generated radio signals detected by a global monitoring network indicated the only lightning at the time was hundreds or more miles away. During one TGF, which occurred on Dec. 14, 2009, Fermi was located over Egypt. But the active storm was in Zambia, some 2,800 miles to the south. The distant storm was below Fermi’s horizon, so any gamma rays it produced could not have been detected.

“Even though Fermi couldn’t see the storm, the spacecraft nevertheless was magnetically connected to it,” said Joseph Dwyer at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla. “The TGF produced high-speed electrons and positrons, which then rode up Earth’s magnetic field to strike the spacecraft.”

The beam continued past Fermi, reached a location, known as a mirror point, where its motion was reversed, and then hit the spacecraft a second time just 23 milliseconds later. Each time, positrons in the beam collided with electrons in the spacecraft. The particles annihilated each other, emitting gamma rays detected by Fermi’s GBM.

graphic depicting how Fermi detected a terrestrial gamma-ray flash On Dec. 14, 2009, while NASA’s Fermi flew over Egypt, the spacecraft intercepted a particle beam from a terrestrial gamma-ray flash (TGF) that occurred over its horizon. Fermi’s Gamma-ray Burst Monitor detected the signal of positrons annihilating on the spacecraft — not once, but twice. After passing Fermi, some of the particles reflected off of a magnetic “mirror” point and returned. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

› Larger image

› Unlabeled version

Scientists long have suspected TGFs arise from the strong electric fields near the tops of thunderstorms. Under the right conditions, they say, the field becomes strong enough that it drives an upward avalanche of electrons. Reaching speeds nearly as fast as light, the high-energy electrons give off gamma rays when they’re deflected by air molecules. Normally, these gamma rays are detected as a TGF.

But the cascading electrons produce so many gamma rays that they blast electrons and positrons clear out of the atmosphere. This happens when the gamma-ray energy transforms into a pair of particles: an electron and a positron. It’s these particles that reach Fermi’s orbit.

http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a010700/a010706/TGF_test278_web.png

A TGF produces gamma rays (magenta) as well as high-energy electrons (yellow) and positrons (green). This simulation tracks a TGF and its particle beams from their origin altitude of 9.3 miles (15 km) to 373 miles (600 km), beyond Fermi’s orbit. Credit: Joe Dwyer/Florida Inst. of Technology

The detection of positrons shows many high-energy particles are being ejected from the atmosphere. In fact, scientists now think that all TGFs emit electron/positron beams. A paper on the findings has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters.

“The Fermi results put us a step closer to understanding how TGFs work,” said Steven Cummer at Duke University. “We still have to figure out what is special about these storms and the precise role lightning plays in the process.”

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership. It is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. It was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the United States.

The GBM Instrument Operations Center is located at the National Space Science Technology Center in Huntsville, Ala. The team includes a collaboration of scientists from UAH, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany and other institutions.

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See movies and images here

h/t WUWT reader James Barker

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William Sears

Other fields of research are always more interesting. The closer you look the more strange things you will see. As they say technological innovation drives science more than the other way around.

Jack Simmons

This is why no one can really predict anything about what we don’t know.
Who would’ve thought in a million years thunderstorms produced antimatter?

Chris Reeve

And of course, all of this energy presumably comes from the collision of liquid and ice particles in clouds. When EU Theorists propose that the Sun can be powered externally, critics produce back-of-the-envelope electrostatic energy calculations meant to prove it cannot be (even though electrostatics are not especially useful in plasma physics).
But, when their failure to account for lightning’s power source is mentioned, it is a problem which never threatens the ideology that lightning comes from the collision of liquid and ice particles in clouds.
And nevermind lightning to space. From http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2006/arch06/060322sprite.htm
“They realized that every time there was a sprite above the clouds there was a bolt of positive lightning below the clouds. The sprite and the positive bolt were parts of a single discharge that stretched from space to the Earth’s surface.”
And nevermind lightning on Venus …
“Perhaps the storms don’t generate the lightning but the lightning generates the storms. Venus, after all, has extensive lightning, more powerful lightning than on Earth, and it has an atmosphere of smog: Lightning in smog contradicts the thunderstorm theory of lightning generation. ”
And nevermind lightning bolts at the centers of dust devils, which have been filmed etching scribbles into the Martian surface.
The conventional view of lightning is an Earth-centric view of lightning that is bound to fail. These enigmas are not annoying obstacles to our efforts to prove our pre-existing views of the universe. They are critical clues which are begging us to re-examine cause and effect.

Sou

Does that mean that research on thunderstorms is credible but research on other aspects of weather is not credible? Or is it only research for which people don’t like to face up to findings that is not credible.
(How many people here know what anti-matter is? How many they think this finding might have an effect on the source of energy they use, or how hot or cold they get?)

ldd

Wow, wonder if it’s also part of those ‘sprites’ out of the top of thunder storms they’ve noticed a couple of years back. Very interesting.
How long before the eco-nuts start using this as the new ‘threat or bad consequences of global warming’. Given the level of fairly tales that they’ve come up with for their money swindle, er-CAGW altar, this should be interesting.

Bill DiPuccio

Matter and antimatter are created from energy ( γ → e− + e+) on a regular basis in nuclear decay. This blurb from Wikipedia describes the common phenomenon of “pair production” which is alluded to in the article above. Not all isotopes produce pairs, but many do.
“In nuclear physics, this occurs when a high-energy photon interacts in the vicinity of a nucleus. The energy of this (mass-less) photon has can be converted into mass through Einstein’s famous equation E=mc² where E is energy, m is mass and c is the speed of light. Thus if the energy of the photon is high enough so that it can make the mass of an electron plus the mass of a positron (basically twice the mass of an electron which is 9.11 x 10 ^-31kg) then an electron-position pair may be created…..Photon-nucleus pair production can only occur if the photons have an energy exceeding twice the rest energy (mec2) of an electron (1.022 MeV)…”
In other words 511 keV x 2 as mentioned in the press release.

tucker

Can we seriously believe we can predict the climate in the year 2100 when we know so little. What hubris!

Scott Covert

Isn’t this a reading of a proxy to another proxy? Out of that they assume the root source of the signal at Fermi is antimatter?
Why not the tooth fairy?
Whom says Science isn’t faith based?

RACookPE1978

Not said very loudly in this unclassified press release is that the gamma rays it is continuously monitoring (“waiting to detect” might be a better phrase) are “expected” to be coming from earth-bound nuclear weapon explosions.
Also, the satellite may be able to detect the atmospheric impacts of small comets and meteors by their radiation.

J.Hansford

Anti matter in thunder storms…… Who woulda thunk it?
This electrickery stuff, sure is full of surprises.

Katherine

Now that is science. I wonder what effect, if any, those TGFs have on the planet’s energy budget. If it’s never been suspected before August 2008, how well could it be accounted for in climate models?

Anthony,
Good posting! This is extraordinarily important news (and it makes a change that it is actual news from Nasa rather than various re-inventions of the wheel to keep their funding base).
The important thing I would say, rather than Terrestrial Gamma Flashes (TGFs), is more potential insight into the mechanisms of thunderstorms and tornadoes themselves which are frankly not well understood despite all the handwaving textbook explanations.
It might be worth mentioning, what needs to be a standard cautionary note: This phenomena (in this case TGFs) is nothing to do with CO2 although I daresay such ascribing is on the way.
Piers Corbyn astrophysicist, ARCS, FRAS, FRMetS;
MD WeatherAction.com long range weather & Climate forecasters

Robert Ellison

Very cool – is there enough to power a warp drive?
http://press.web.cern.ch/livefromcern/antimatter/everyday/AM-everyday04.html

Robert Ellison

While I think of it – check out Star Trek at CERN by all means (heaps of fun) but press the home button for an additional antimatter explanation to that of Wikipedia. Again, heaps of fun.
Cheers
Robert

Mick

CO2 >AGW>TGF
So the next hype is : Galactic GR-Saturation! Because of (western) humans!
/sarc
/bad humor

Hoser

Given the energy in lightning, I always suspected x-rays could be made. The idea is not new at all. It goes back a lot longer than most people realize.
“Lightning appears to be nature’s own particle accelerator after all. In the 1920s, Nobel prize-winner C. T. R. Wilson suggested that lightning could produce electrons traveling at the speed of light.” See http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=x-rays-abound-when-lightn.
If you have relativistic electrons, antimatter isn’t much more of a leap. Very cool that NASA was able to demonstrate the process does occur.

Zeke

“Thunderstorms Proven to Create Anti-matter”
That’s interesting, because thunderstorms are known to equally mysteriously produce lightning as well. And one of the explanations for lightning is that an electrostatic charge builds up between water droplets and ice crystals, although it is acknowledged that there is not nearly enough power to generate lightning electrostatically. And not only that, lightning discharges tend to happen very rapidly in succession – in other words, there is hardly time for the next charge to build up.
If an efield is building up in the cloudtops and accelerating electrons to relativistic speeds, and an efield is also building up between clouds and cloud-to-ground, this begs the question “Where is the electric current going to or coming from?”
“Effectively the discharges extend to space. And from there beyond to the magnetosphere, which then begs the question ‘Where is this electric current going to or coming from?’ and the answer is it’s coming from the solar circuit.”
“All planets have this connection to the solar circuit, which means that they are accepting electrical charge from the sun. It was imagined initially that these strange lightnings above storms were coming from the storm below. But the evidence is all in favor of the fact that the electrical energy is already sitting up there in the ionosphere waiting to get to earth. And it just comes down through those various elves, gnomes, the sprites – all of these whimsical names given to things that are not understood. Now once the charge gets to the thundercloud,
the electricity is distributed in the thundercloud, and then it is discharged to the ground through the normal lightning bolts. Or through tornadoes. Tornadoes are a slow electric vortex.”
~Wal Thornhill
interview

This sort of “real” science is a good illustration of why it is so important that we do NOTHING about CO2 or the boogie-man AGW at this time. I have no doubt that if AGW were in fact to be a problem, technology will be available for us to adapt or correct the problem by the time it really became a problem. Ever more reason to quit wasting valuable resources on AGW B.S. and futile CO2 mitigation/sequestration/CapN’Tax schemes, and instead, divert our attention to things like this, and fusion, and other such “viable” technologies.
AWESOME post Anthony! — Thanks Much!

jorgekafkazar

Zeke the Sneak says: “…one of the explanations for lightning is that an electrostatic charge builds up between water droplets and ice crystals, although it is acknowledged that there is not nearly enough power to generate lightning electrostatically. And not only that, lightning discharges tend to happen very rapidly in succession – in other words, there is hardly time for the next charge to build up…”
I once saw a satellite video of a thunderstorm in Texas. It looked like drops falling into a puddle, except that each crater was a single lightning discharge. Moreover, there seemed to be connectivity–the discharges appeared related. I’ve looked for the video on the ‘net several times. It was definitely worth watching, but I never found it.

Northern Exposure

Energy in all forms is, quite literally, the stuff of life… right down to the micro-nano scale.
It creates, it destroys, it keeps it all going.
Not compound molecules (ie: CO2 *cough cough*)… just plain ol’ energy transfer.

David Ball

Being on the ground underneath a 60,000 ft. anvil cloud is humbling. Love when it is dark as the hobbes of hell at 3:30p.m. on a hot prairie afternoon. This article is about the photo at the top of Anthony’s webpage, is it not?

FrankK

Interesting stuff. The very high intensity shown in the map is not surprising in far Northern Australia since from August to Dec we get the Wet season from about the middle to the end of that period with ferocious thunderstorms.

Mike McMillan

The map shows most of the detected bursts over land, or plausibly over islands. Could the difference between over-land and over-ocean electric fields have an effect?

This is no big deal. I’ve created positrons many times in the past using only words. The trick is to take a negatron (laymen call them ‘electrons’) and give it some positive verbal feedback. Something like, “Don’t worry that they won’t let you into the nucleus. It’s because you’re better than them.” Or just simply say, “Negatron, you’re awesome.”
Their minds aren’t that complex, so it’s easy to give them a positive attitude. And charge.
😉

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

As previously reported here, the Crab Nebula is producing powerful gamma ray flares generated by “…super-charged electrons of up to 1015 electron volts, or 10 quadrillion electron volts, approximately 1,000 times more energetic than the protons accelerated by the Large Hadron Collider in Europe…”
Now it’s revealed that earthly thunderstorms can produce streams of electrons that are so energetic they can also yield powerful gamma ray flashes, which themselves are strong enough to generate electron-positron pairs.
So what’s the point of building ever-more-powerful particle accelerators on Earth? What is there left to learn from smashing particles here on the ground? Wouldn’t a better use of research funds be to place advanced detectors in orbit, and see what such natural sources of high-energy particles and radiation end up doing?
Since the current “most important thing to discover with a particle accelerator” is the theorized Higgs boson, basically why CERN’s LHC was built, I Googled about it. Found this report. Fermilab’s Tevatron, the only competitor to the LHC in terms of power thus ability to discover a Higgs boson, will be shut down in 2011, there will be no extension as was hoped. Guess others are wondering about how useful these accelerators are too.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the freed-up funding will be diverted to a possible satellite project. Fermilab is run by the US Department of Energy, which will need all the funding it can beg, borrow, or steal to continue to combat Climate Change™ while leading the charge in reducing emissions of the deadly pollutant CO2 by helping us transition to Clean Green™ renewable energy sources.
Yup, good to know the DOE and this administration has their priorities straight. Science as it’s needed, and not a second earlier!

George Turner

Keep in mind that the CO2 alarm is based on the Stefan-Boltzmann law and average surface temperatures, which likewise say that the planet can’t emit in the visible spectrum, much less in the UV, much less emit gamma rays and anti-matter. This doesn’t alarm me because my laptop screen also wildly violates Stefan-Boltzmann, which is good because otherwise it would probably burn the flesh off my fingers.
The land/ocean difference is interesting, because it reminds me of my gut suspicion that the South-Atlantic Anomaly where the Van Allen Belt touches the atmosphere (and which irradiates satellites and astronauts whenever they pass through it) is perhaps an important factor in the atmosphere’s electrical circuit. Would changing the size of the anomally (and thus the resistance) change cloud patterns, thunderstorm activity? If so, wouldn’t that affect albedo, precipitation patterns, water vapor distribution and intensity, the greenhouse effect due to water vapor, surface winds, and countless other things? Since the anomally is a result in a slight asymmetry in the Van Allen Belt due to the slight off-centering of the Earth’s magnetic field, wouldn’t it be affected by the way that field wanders around over long time scales? Likewise, wouldn’t the location of the anomally slowly move across land and ocean? Wouldn’t this be a way that climate might link to the periodic wanderings of the magnetic field, with further input from solar cycles which charge the Van Allen Belts?
So far as I know, these questions haven’t even been asked, much less answered, but then again, they are wildly speculative and based on not much of anything except gut feeling.
However, gamma ray and anti-matter burts are probably why the Enterprise can’t use the transporters on every third or fourth episode.

ge0050

sailing off the coast of southern mexico one night about 25 years ago we were chased by a thunderstorm like I’ve never seen since. It formed up at sunset and had an opening underneath where forked lightning raced out under the cloud layer. Every minute or so a single, thick, very long-lasting, solid bolt of lightning came out of the hole to strike the water directly below. It was so unlike normal lightning that I called it the “finger of god” because I was certain it would smote us if it hit the boat. It certainly put the fear of god into us. The bolt striking the sea was not forked. It was simply a solid line of electricity extending vertically to the water from the opening under the thundercloud. After chasig us for an hour the storm passed a mile astern and marched out to sea. The description of “positive” lightning connected with sprites brought this to mind.

jeanparisot

Would this pattern of flashes be useful in the evaluation of extrasolar planets? Do our gas giants exhibit these flashes in their storms – or is the formation “linked” to atmospheric chemistry?

In the Equatorial regions there is close ‘relationship’ between ionosphere and thunderstorms. Ionosphere can provide all the charges and electric currents, no great deal there. This relationship is far more profound for climatic changes than for few grains of ‘anti-mater’. See part relating to the equatorial storms with images 4,5 and 6 in:
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC20.htm

Dave Springer

I knew it! That’s why UFOs are always hovering around – the earth is a refueling station for anti-matter warp drives.

On the larger scale the energy radiated out is probably peanuts but still, it is yet another way earths heat gets radiated to space. Another brick in the wall missing in the models, begs once more the question if there is actually a wall of sound science behind the models.

That’s nice but it was discussed in the blogosphere in 2009, right?
http://motls.blogspot.com/2009/11/fermi-lightnings-produce-positrons.html

sandyinderby

George Turner says:
January 10, 2011 at 11:45 pm
Keep in mind that the CO2 alarm is based on the Stefan-Boltzmann law and average surface temperatures, which likewise say that the planet can’t emit in the visible spectrum, much less in the UV, much less emit gamma rays and anti-matter. This doesn’t alarm me because my laptop screen also wildly violates Stefan-Boltzmann, which is good because otherwise it would probably burn the flesh off my fingers.
Can you elaborate on the last sentence above please George?
Many thanks

Roger Longstaff

I just don’t buy this.
What is the mean free path of a positron in the upper atmosphere? And what magnetic field strength is required to deflect (or even reflect) a highly energetic positron?
Nah. (But I have neen known to be wrong before!)

Piers said
“It might be worth mentioning, what needs to be a standard cautionary note: This phenomena (in this case TGFs) is nothing to do with CO2 although I daresay such ascribing is on the way.”
I read once that if Co2 ‘particles’ can acquire enough speed they can be ejected out of the atmosphere.
No one has ever been able to tell me what that speed was and how much- if
any- Co2 gets pushed into space.
If we are saying that Thunderstorms are a ‘gun’ are they also a mechanism for ejecting Co2 into space-if so how much?
tonyb

Keith Battye

A couple of years ago I was flying in my trike ( microlight/ultralight ) under a large storm cloud. It wasn’t raining and I was only about 10 minutes away from my strip doing about 60 mph about 800 feet above the ground.
I was hit by lightening which maxed out my radio and GPS , the screens just went black. The radio was separated from the wiring loom by a battery but the GPS wasn’t.
Now everybody tells me that this isn’t possible because of the need for earthing but I can assure you it happened to me. Now how did that energy get into my nav/com setup I wonder? Not that I think it was anti-matter by the way. 🙂
Other than that Anthony this is a fascinating article about a phenomenon ( lightening ) that we know almost nothing about other than we shouldn’t play golf whilst it’s around.

Chris Reeve says: January 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm

…From http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2006/arch06/060322sprite.htm – “They realized that every time there was a sprite above the clouds there was a bolt of positive lightning below the clouds. The sprite and the positive bolt were parts of a single discharge that stretched from space to the Earth’s surface”…

Bill DiPuccio says: January 10, 2011 at 6:33 pm

…511 keV x 2 as mentioned in the press release.

Piers Corbyn says: January 10, 2011 at 6:52 pm

…This is extraordinarily important news…

Hoser says: January 10, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Given the energy in lightning, I always suspected x-rays could be made…

Zeke the Sneak says: January 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm

“Thunderstorms Proven to Create Anti-matter”. That’s interesting, because thunderstorms are known to equally mysteriously produce lightning as well. And one of the explanations for lightning is that an electrostatic charge builds up between water droplets and ice crystals, although it is acknowledged that there is not nearly enough power to generate lightning electrostatically. And not only that, lightning discharges tend to happen very rapidly in succession – in other words, there is hardly time for the next charge to build up…

kadaka (KD Knoebel) says: January 10, 2011 at 11:35 pm

As previously reported here, the Crab Nebula is producing powerful gamma ray flares generated by “…super-charged electrons… approximately 1,000 times more energetic than the protons accelerated by the Large Hadron Collider in Europe…”

vukcevic says: January 11, 2011 at 1:22 am

In the Equatorial regions there is close ‘relationship’ between ionosphere and thunderstorms… This relationship is far more profound for climatic changes than for few grains of ‘anti-mater’… See images 4,5 and 6: http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC20.htm

Already a crop of telling comments, and some fascinating pics from Vukcevik. I’ve only recently looked as closely at the Electric Universe hypothesis as is needed to start to hold opinions that are both scientifically informed from the EU perspective and aware of EU debunkers. So far I see it fitting like the legendary Cinderella’s Shoe. I have looked briefly, and shall attend to Leif’s references properly, in time, but right now I do not anticipate much more there than the EU equivalent of Abrahams or John Cook or Gavin Schmidt.
Though the EU hypothesis is the one supported by mavericks, eccentrics, skeptics and cranks, it bodes well as a very natural way of making sense of the universe in the farther reaches and beyond our familiar atmosphere. It is worth repeating that electrical power is 36 orders of magnitude greater than the power of gravity (IIRC), and that whereas with gravity and electrostatic charges, the force decreases with the SQUARE of distance, with magnetism, the force decreases in LINEAR correspondence with distance. Therefore, at mega-distances, its power starts to outstrip that of gravity.

Dave Springer

Keith Battye says:
January 11, 2011 at 4:47 am
“Now everybody tells me that this isn’t possible because of the need for earthing but I can assure you it happened to me. Now how did that energy get into my nav/com setup I wonder? Not that I think it was anti-matter by the way. :-)”
“Everybody”, whoever that really is, is a moron. Aircraft are generally protected from lightning by 1) avoiding it and 2) having a metal skin and a few extra bits to help the lightening take a path that avoids fuel tanks and sensitive electronics. Recreational aircraft seldom have metal skins and obviously you didn’t avoid the storm.
http://www.lightningtech.com/d~ta/faq1.html

johnnythelowery

From Science Daily…
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091111142518.htm
‘………………………..Thanks to a serendipitous discovery by Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Colin Price, head of TAU’s Department of Geophysics and Planetary Science, and his graduate student Yuval Reuveni, science now has a more definitive and reliable tool for measuring the Sun’s rotation when Sunspots aren’t visible — and even when they are. The research, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research — Space Physics, could have important implications for understanding the interactions between the Sun and Earth. Best of all, it’s based on observations of common, garden-variety lightning strikes here on Earth.
Waxing and waning, every 27 days
Using Very Low Frequency (VLF) wire antennas that resemble clotheslines, Prof. Price and his team monitored distant lightning strikes from a field station in Israel’s Negev Desert. Observing lightning signals from Africa, they noticed a strange phenomenon in the lightning strike data — a phenomenon that slowly appeared and disappeared every 27 days, the length of a single full rotation of the Sun.
“Even though Africa is thousands of miles from Israel, lightning signals there bounce off Earth’s ionosphere — the envelope surrounding Earth — as they move from Africa to Israel,” Prof. Price explains. “We noticed that this bouncing was modulated by the Sun, changing throughout its 27-day cycle. The variability of the lightning activity occurring in sync with the Sun’s rotation suggested that the Sun somehow regulates the lightning pattern.”
He describes it as akin to hearing music or voices from across a lake: depending on the humidity, temperature and wind, sometimes they’re crystal clear and sometimes they’re inaudible. He discovered a similar anomaly in the lightning data due to the changes in Earth’s ionosphere — signals waxed and waned on a 27-day cycle. Prof. Price was able to show that this variability in the data was not due to changes in the lightning activity itself, but to changes in Earth’s ionosphere, suspiciously in tandem with the Sun’s rotation.
Taking the pulse of the Sun
The discovery describes a phenomenon not clearly understood by scientists. Prof. Price, an acclaimed climate change scientist, believes it may help scientists formulate new questions about the Sun’s effect on our climate. “This is such a basic parameter and not much is known about it,” says Prof. Price. “We know that Earth rotates once every 24 hours, and the moon once every 27.3 days. But we haven’t been able to precisely measure the rotation rate of the Sun, which is a ball of gas rather than a solid object; 27 days is only an approximation. Our findings provide a more accurate way of knowing the real rotation rate, and how it changes over time,” he says.
Prof. Price cannot yet say how this finding will impact life on Earth. “It’s an interesting field to explore,” he says, “because nothing has been done to investigate the links between changing weather patterns and the rotation of the Sun.
“Short-term changes in solar activity can also impact satellite performance, navigational accuracy, the health of astronauts, and even electrical power grid failures here on Earth. Many scientists claim that the Sun’s variability is linked to changes in climate and weather patterns, so the small changes we observed every 27 days could also be related to small variations in weather patterns.
“Our data may help researchers examine short-term connections between weather, climate, and Sun cycles. With this tool, we now have a good system for measuring the pulse of the Sun.”………………………………………………’
Perhaps this is relevant to the discussion…the rotation of the sun driving occurences of lightning in Africa which is being measured in Israel. What do y’all think of that????

John Day

@Piers Corbyn

It might be worth mentioning, what needs to be a standard cautionary note: This phenomena (in this case TGFs) is nothing to do with CO2 although I daresay such ascribing is on the way.

I will quibble (very slightly) with Piers by asserting that TGF and CO2 are both are examples of electromagnetic energy (photons) interacting with ordinary matter.
In the case of CO2, we all know (by now) that CO2 molecules absorb energy from impinging infra-red photons. (What happens after that is a matter of great debate).
TGF involves an analogous interaction: gamma ray photons (instead of IR) interact with atoms (instead of molecules) absorbing and re-emitting enormous amounts of energy (millions of electron volts) compared to the remarkably low IR energies (on the order of a few electron volts).
Depending on the energy of the gamma ray several types of absorption/emission (“scattering”) occur. Low energy xray/gamma rays scatter elastically, with no loss of energy (“photoelectric effect”). Higher energies are inelastic and transfer energy to the atoms (“Compton effect”) . At the highest energies an amazing interaction occurs, the production of an electron-positron pair, virtually out of thin air!
Pair production is a well-know phenomenon, first predicted by Dirac in 1928 and first observed by Anderson in 1932 (while watching cosmic rays in a cloud chamber). It has even been observed in counter-propagating laser beams:
http://iopscience.iop.org/0741-3335/51/8/085008
What’s interesting here is Prof. Joe Dwyer’s research at Florida Tech into the causes of lightning. His team was the first to verify x-ray production in lightning in 2004. Joe is a kind of modern-day Ben Franklin. But instead of flying kites with metal strings, he does it more safely by shooting wires attached to rockets into the clouds, thus generating man-made bolts, from which he has successfully imaged high energy x-rays in the bolts. He is trying to find the cause of lightning in terms of fundamental physics. He thinks ultimately lightning is linked to cosmic rays.

Zeke the Sneak says:
January 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm
Such a lot of energy around and some Green Beings wanna sell us Windmills?
See the Tesla Patent below (Click on patent #96):
http://www.corrosion-doctors.org/Biographies/TeslaBio-Patents.htm

IanM

Slightly off topic but about this penchant for the misuse of “this begs the question” when what is actually meant is “this raises the question” see: http://begthequestion.info/ for some great info as well as t-shirts and mugs (I kid you not).
To beg the question is to commit a logical fallacy. Raising a question comes from the consideration of a particular event or data set.
Awesome post though and very “electrical” apparently.
– cheers

Lucy Skywalker says:
January 11, 2011 at 5:56 am
Though the EU hypothesis is the one supported by mavericks, eccentrics, skeptics and cranks,….
All together with Dante Alighieri and his “Fedeli D’Amore” (Those faithful to Love, or lovers of love) who taught that Love: attraction, repulsion of opposites charges, not forgetting the neutral force separating them, rules the universe.
Beautiful…isn’t it?

Lucy Skywalker says:
January 11, 2011 at 5:56 am
………….
Most of the events I consider and write about are well within bounds of the classic electro – magnetic theory and do not require any additional elements of the EU hypothesis.

Peter

@Keith Battye: there doesn’t need to be a conductive path between the lightning strike and your gear. The lighting strike creates a huge magnetic field as it conducts many amps of current between clouds and ground. This varying magnetic field can induce currents in any nearby conductors. That’s probably what got your gear.
I’ve had lightning near misses wipe out ports on networking switches, simply due to the connected wiring acting as antennas.

johnnythelowery says:
January 11, 2011 at 6:29 am
Prof.Colin Price web-page:
http://www.tau.ac.il/~colin/

shockwave

@ Keith Battye
Anyone telling someone that lightning doesn’t hit planes is full of it. Lightning hits planes all the time – big or small. As for the effects on the vehicles, it’s quite random. When I was still fixing avionics for small aircraft, we had a plane come in for repairs after a lightning strike. The bolt came in through the leading edge of the prop, through the engine, right through the firewall, down the aisle and into the floor before exiting through an antenna. We had to replace the antenna. Other than that, the only damage besides scorching was the exploded bottle of Coke that had be laying in the aisle. All passengers and electronics were unharmed. So I’ve seen firsthand how freaky lightning can be.

Roger Longstaff

“Even though Africa is thousands of miles from Israel”
Eh ???
Bugger, should have stayed awake in geography classes.

Can’t believe it!
One of the most important greenhouse gases is Ozone. The ozone in the lower atmosphere is “bad” ozone since it traps heat emitted from the earth, enhancing the greenhouse effect. The ozone in the upper atmopshere is “good” ozone, since it blocks out the harmful UV radiation from the sun. One of the main precursors for ozone formation in the lower atmosphere is NOx (nitrogen oxides), and lightning is one of the major natural sources of NOx.
http://www.tau.ac.il/~colin/research/research.html

John Day

Roger Longstaff says:
January 11, 2011 at 8:27 am
“Even though Africa is thousands of miles from Israel”
Eh ???
Bugger, should have stayed awake in geography classes.

Cairo is only 250 miles from Jerusalem, but Capetown is almost 5000 miles away. So, on average, Prof. Price is right.