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Strange Video of Dancing Cloud Explained By Electric Discharge 91

Posted by timothy
from the because-clouds-do-not-have-hormones dept.
The Bad Astronomer writes "A few months ago I was sent a really weird video showing a cloud snapping around suddenly, far faster than wind could explain. I asked a meteorologist about it, who told me it was due to ice crystals re-aligning when the cloud's electric field discharged. It's pretty amazing to watch, and a great example of how many cool things happen right in front of us that we never notice."
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Strange Video of Dancing Cloud Explained By Electric Discharge

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  • Now all we have to do is figure out why the aliens are causing electric discharges and we can call this mystery solved!

    • It's a side effect from their cloaking field malfunctioning. Obviously, the meteorologist is an alien plant trying to cover up the truth.

    • by Solandri (704621)
      Back in the 1990s, I was on a commuter flight whose pilot decided to land in the middle of a thunderstorm. The turbulence was so bad that if you didn't have your seatbelt fastened, you would be thrown out of your seat. But the experience made me realize that the lightning we see from the ground is just a tiny fraction of all the lightning that goes off. The vast majority of it is air-to-air, not air-to-ground, and hidden from view from the ground by the thick clouds during a thunderstorm. Up at 25,000 f
      • Interesting, so what your saying is that aliens are also the source of lighting? Things are stating to make more sense now...

        In all seriousness, thanks for sharing the videos. very cool.

  • by catmistake (814204) on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @01:18PM (#37833274) Journal
    Speaking as someone who took a couple meteorology courses in college, I can confirm the Bad Astronomer's observation: it is weird.
    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday October 25, 2011 @01:27PM (#37833400) Homepage

      Speaking as someone who took a couple meteorology courses in college, I can confirm the Bad Astronomer's observation: it is weird.

      Obviously you didn't go on to get a meteorology degree. If you had, you would have stated that there was an 80% chance of it being weird.

      • by kimvette (919543)

        No. If he had taken meteorology courses in college, he would have said that there is an 80% chance that such an event would not be observed, even though we are watching it happen already.

      • by flonker (526111)

        Speaking as someone who took a couple meteorology courses in college, I can confirm the Bad Astronomer's observation: it is weird.

        Obviously you didn't go on to get a meteorology degree. If you had, you would have stated that there was an 80% chance of it being weird.

        And if you had gotten a mathematics degree, you would have stated that there is a 95% chance of there being an 80% chance of it being weird.

  • if it was a natural phenomenon, it should have happened before elsewhere, and it should have happened again.

    i love how scholastisizm in academia got to a level of 'explaining' things without doing ANY research or experiment these days.
    • by jovius (974690)

      Why couldn't a natural phenomenon be unique?

      • by mapkinase (958129)

        Natural implies repetition. Repetition is needed for naturalness because without repetition you cannot analyze it and place it in the context of a larger systems, thus providing "explanation": "it's natural"

        • Natural implies repetition.

          Yeah, not buying that, so not reading the rest of your thought.

          • by mapkinase (958129)

            I am guessing you are not using calculators with Polish notation.

            • by Thing 1 (178996)

              I am guessing you are not using calculators with Polish notation.

              When I was a juvenile I heard a racist joke; it was something like Q: "What do you find in a Polack's nose?" A: "Fingerprints." Of course, at this young age I did not know different nations, but I did know fish. So I thought it was exceedingly odd that, first, the fish pollock has noses; second, that people wanted to look inside them; and third, that they would find that other people had already been digitally exploring in there! (Later I learned the national meaning, and the joke became a lot less stup

              • by mapkinase (958129)

                I do not know what to make out of your comment, but just in case you or somebody else does not know and is too lazy to look up the term:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_notation [wikipedia.org]

                In some ways Polish_notation is opposite to the way we usually do arithmetic. That is why when I first formulated the thesis and then brought the argumentation, I brought the allusion to Polish notation, implying that NatasRevol did not recognize the structure of my comment (the other possibility of course is that this user simply

                • by Thing 1 (178996)
                  Yeah, I left out the thought (somewhat expressed in the XKCD link) which was the source of my post: I recalled it as Reverse Polish Notation, and seeing it without the Reverse caused me to take a trip down memory lane. And now that I read the link, I've learned something new: there is an inverse form of the RPN I learned long ago, which has the operators in front. I'm guessing the calculator (and Forth, etc) creators chose to reverse it, as that makes stack-based operations easier. Anyway, enjoy!
          • by Maritz (1829006)
            There is the 'principle of mediocrity' which simply suggests that we shouldn't assume that we are in a special location in the universe. It's clear however that even though nature is composed of simple building blocks (at least the few percent of the universe that consists of baryonic matter and energy that we can detect) it is capable of immense variety as the laws of the universe unfold. The solar system with its eight planets is actually a good example, many celestial bodies are very distict, for example
        • That's an interesting way to define natural.

          If the flock of chickens in my yard happen to stand such that they clearly spell out the word "unique", is that unnatural or just chance? What if they make a pattern that doesn't happen to be significant, but that we can't expect them ever to make again?

          If there's only one universe, is it unnatural?

          • by mapkinase (958129)

            Not natural does not imply unnatural. In other words, "unnatural" needs another definition. I am offering you a consistent definition of "natural" as a set of things that could be a subject of a scientific method.

            Unnatural in common usage means something that seems to be created by intelligent will, going in some way against the natural order of things. But we have to know that to claim that. For most of the things that are unique we simply do not know anything to imply either intelligent will or some unkno

            • I see. You're defining "natural" jargonistically, rather than for everyday (or even casual philosophical) conversation. For a second there I thought you were being philosophical.

    • I remember someone explaining why the sky was blue by saying it was because it transmitted every colors but blue. That's not explaining, it's just saying it's blue. Some people seem ok with reformulating real world things with scientific words and believing it's an explanation.
      • by hrimhari (1241292)

        That's because nobody will live long enough to scientifically get to a single origin of anything (if there's one), so we draw the line somewhere until somebody advances it further.

        Someone famous once said (I hope you can place it ;) ) : "To make an apple pie from scratch first you need to create the universe."

      • If somebody explains to you how colors work, it's up to you to have the basic faculty to understand the explanation. Saying that color x is the most reflected color of an object makes it color x is the most basic and accurate explanation of why a thing is one color and not another. To understand the subjectivity of color to the human mind would take a much more detailed explanation of the human retina and nervous system and the brain itself. To understand the greater depth of the physicality of light would
        • Saying that color x is the most reflected color of an object makes it color x is the most basic and accurate explanation of why a thing is one color and not another.

          During my college orientation, among other activities, we were shown some kind of presentation where this woman claimed that pouring water into a red glass imbued it with some attributes associated with the color red. I knew it was bunk and raised my hand. When I was called on, I explained that the glass was red because it allowed all colors t

          • by lennier (44736)

            When I was called on, I explained that the glass was red because it allowed all colors to pass through it except for the color red. This color was reflected back to our eyes.

            Nice theory, except that red light is transmitted through a red glass, not reflected off it, as you could verify by the simple experiment of holding that glass up to a light source. So, the opposite of what you just said is the case. No wonder your teacher was annoyed with the question.

    • by Ch_Omega (532549)

      if it was a natural phenomenon, it should have happened before elsewhere, and it should have happened again.

      Here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xK1g_5x2jBU [youtube.com]

  • Reflection (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tony Isaac (1301187)
    It doesn't look like part of the cloud to me, the brightness and tint isn't quite right. It looks more like a reflection, as if there were glass between the camera and the sky, with something in the foreground reflecting at just the right place to make it look like part of the cloud.
  • That's just what those weather controlling, HARP using, economy crashing, illuminati would say.

    • by fyngyrz (762201)

      HARP nothing, it's the Chupacabras that are doing it. With their minds. To communicate with bigfoot... who lives partway down the holes to hell and who are generating EM ghost signatures. With their minds. To confuse the witches that call in to Coast to Coast (formerly with Art Bell) into thinking they are possessed. All of which means NASA has been hiding evidence of life on mars from us. In order to misdirect our attention from the faked moon landings. [runs away, foaming at mouth]

      • by Cylix (55374) *

        Actually, it's been quite documented the moon landings were in fact real.

        It just wasn't our moon.

        Froth over that one buddy!

  • This may be the ground observation of Sprite Lightning. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprite_(lightning) [wikipedia.org]
  • My first thought was that it was some disturbance in the air between the photographer and the clouds causing diffraction that made the cloud appear to warp, but the ice crystal explanation seems to fit the picture better. It does remind me of pictures I've seen of ice halos - but I never heard they could "move" like that.
    • by tibit (1762298)

      It doesn't seem to move all that much. The crystals probably stay where they are, they merely twist to align with the electric field. Think ice electrometers. Millions or billions of them...

  • I think it was the virgin Mary getting jiggy with it.
    • YES! I think I see her image in the clouds! Now what do you suppose we can sell to commemorate the event?
  • caused by shadows and light intermittent thrown on the outer parts of the cloud!

    especially as it looks like repeated patterns.

  • As suggested by a comment to the video, it appears to be some water on top of a piece of glass in front of the camera, being blown around.

  • I HAVE SEEN THIS (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I watch thunderstorms very closely. 2 summers ago I saw a thunderstorm over my hometown of Baltimore and saw exactly this kind of behavior. It was like the entire side of the cloud tower suddenly bent and twisted around. It looked impossibly huge and fast moving at the time, like a huge piece of sheet metal snapping around suddenly. It definitely smacked of some kind of electrical related effect. Very cool to see this confirmed.

  • I've seen better fakes on ghost hunting shows.

  • Why the fuck do people record video on their phone in the vertical position? There are so many cases of this.. morons.

    • by Tzarius (688342)
      More importantly, why don't video sites recognise this and change the aspect ratio of the player to match? Also seems like there should be some way to tag mobile video formats with accelerometer readings (and therefore orientation) during recording.
  • There was a rather large field campaign called The Severe Thunderstorm Electrification and Precipitation Study [noaa.gov] (STEPS) to study electrification done around the year 2000 that involved the use of polarimetric weather radar to observe electrified storms, in conjunction with the New Mexico Tech Lightning Monitoring Array [nmt.edu] (LMA).

    One of the nice things about polarimetric radar is the ability to measure the aggregate orientation of particles, including ice crystals. When scanning active electrified storms, the rad

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