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Ball Lightning Caught On Video and Spectrograph

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  • Error in summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Carnildo (712617) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @12:11AM (#46021287) Homepage Journal

    I'd just like to note that a will o' the wisp [wikipedia.org] is not the same thing as ball lightning [wikipedia.org].

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by VortexCortex (1117377)

      The latter may be responsible for the stories of the former basing fantasy on bits of unexplained fact, as is often the case with ancient legends, e.g., the Christian's god was probably a volcano. [youtube.com]

      What about a Foo Fighter [wikipedia.org] or Saint Elmo's Fire [wikipedia.org]? One thing I find interesting is how many events can have a common cause. As is often the case in science, it's not a stretch to think such disparate things could someday be understood as a variation of "the same thing": A change in static electric charge.

      • What about a Foo Fighter [wikipedia.org]

        The nonsense word "foo" emerged in popular culture during the early 1930s, first being used by cartoonist Bill Holman who peppered his Smokey Stover fireman cartoon strips with "foo" signs and puns.

        Kool.

        Not off subject a bit. :}

      • the Christian's god was probably a volcano.
        I always thought it was a burning bush, aka an open oil spring somewhere in the desert.

        • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @05:27AM (#46022529) Journal
          It was also the Hebrew god, later adopted by Christianity, and further later by Islam...
          • by dkleinsc (563838)

            And a great deal of trouble might have been prevented had the god in question had not granted the land between the Euphrates and the Red Sea to all 3 groups!

        • by cwsumner (1303261)

          the Christian's god was probably a volcano.
          I always thought it was a burning bush, aka an open oil spring somewhere in the desert.

          No, it was just a flashlight. The big question is: who's flashlight was it?

        • we've got our own 'burning bush' in New Zealand www.naturalflames.co.nz/ however I don't think anyone worships it.
    • Re:Error in summary (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @03:29AM (#46022159)
      This actually was ball lightning if you bother reading the article. They just decided to use whatever file photo they could grab when they posted the article but the photo they chose has nothing to do with the actual ball lightning captured on video during a thunderstorm in china. The researchers were originally photographing normal lightning when ball lightning occurred near enough. The actual link to the actual article/video: http://physics.aps.org/article... [aps.org]
      • What a gyp. I'm thoroughly disappointed.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Could you maybe not make bigoted comments? I'm going to assume that you're very young, and didn't know what you were doing. Google "gyp."
          • by germansausage (682057) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @10:04AM (#46024031)
            Interesting theory on the origin of the word gyp, but around here gyp no longer has any trace of that connotation, and is in no way associated with any racial or ethnic slur.
            • Wow, the social justice brigade is really stretching it lately, ain't they?

              • by lgw (121541)

                One day they'll discover the origin of "that's very fair of you" and implode in self-shame. I do look forward to it.

                • As a member of the PC brigade, I'm not ashamed of myself. I'm ashamed of you. People who have never experienced racism who talk about how "they're just words". People who have never experiences sexism who talk about "I was just flirting". Just because you can't be prosecuted for saying something doesn't make it okay to say. (The example in this threadis not particularly egregious, but then, I don't think we're talking about that example anymore, are we?). If one person will be annoyed that they don't get to
          • Re: Error in summary (Score:4, Interesting)

            by khellendros1984 (792761) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @04:06PM (#46028763) Journal
            As a further note, avoid all uses of the words "hooligan", "uppity", "peanut gallery", "hip hip hooray", "vandal", "barbarian", "assassin", "spade", "maroon", or any other word, phrase, figure of speech, or expression that has ever been deemed offensive by anyone at any time.

            Also, take care to avoid using the words "hysteria", "orchid", "seminar", "avocado", "mastodon", "manatee", "fundamental", or other words with similarly sexual etymologies around underage people.

            Words come from places and take meanings and connotations that don't match their origins. Get over it.
            • by cwsumner (1303261)

              Most of those words are the "nicer" words that people were supposed to use, so as not to insult various people. See "euphemism".
              The result is the "nicer" word just takes on the bad connotation and gets "ruined", as well as the old one.
              The world goes through a cycle of this several times each generation, but it is futile.

          • Dude, losing battle. People around here believe it's their god-given right to say the n-word whenever they want, because if you're offended or hurt by it, IT'S YOUR FAULT FREE SPEECH I DON'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF MY ACTIONS.
    • I'd just like to note that a will o' the wisp is not the same thing as ball lightning.

      Of course not. Those are two entirely different cards. They aren't even the same color!

    • by plopez (54068)

      I think it was meant to be metaphorical. That's the way I took it though. For some reason I seem to be more tuned into language and writing than most of the people I work with which is why "Needs to improve communications skills" rarelyshows up on my job reviews.

  • by noh8rz10 (2716597) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @12:12AM (#46021299)

    can anybody find a link to the actual video? I followed the link in the summary but got to a series of other pages about the video, but not the video itself.

    • Re:link to video? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @12:20AM (#46021345)

      It's available here: http://physics.aps.org/articles/v7/5

      Not much to see though.

      • Re:link to video? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by c0lo (1497653) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @12:42AM (#46021509)

        It's available here: http://physics.aps.org/article... [aps.org]

        Not much to see though.

        From the link, with my emphasis:

        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.

        (groan) ... seems there are publications much slower than /. - this was supposed to be news one year and a half ago.

        • Re:link to video? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @01:18AM (#46021683)

          (groan) ... seems there are publications much slower than /. - this was supposed to be news one year and a half ago.

          To be fair, ball lightning sightings and claims to have photographed it or caught it on video are quite frequent, with a very high rate of hoaxes or mistaking other phenomena for it. (Almost as bad as UFO sightings and "evidence.")

          It wouldn't surprise me at all if a few extra months were added to the researchers' analysis and to the peer review just to substantiate that this is what it says it is, and all the analysis is correct. Ball lightning is just one of those things that so many people have claimed to see, and it seems odd that scientists have so much trouble catching evidence of natural occurrences... so when you finally think you've got it, you want to be sure.

          Not saying it explains the whole delay, but maybe part of it.

          • by c0lo (1497653)

            Ball lightning is just one of those things that so many people have claimed to see, and it seems odd that scientists have so much trouble catching evidence of natural occurrences... so when you finally think you've got it, you want to be sure.

            Also on the speculative path... I reckon one must be a Chinese scientist to get out on field trips and actually do something with a (2 actually) spectrograph...
            Seems their "westernized" counterparts are busy fighting for grants (i.e. survival) and organizing sneaker nets to smuggle scientific journals [slashdot.org]

            • by lgw (121541)

              Sure, a Chinese scientists has so much less [wikipedia.org] to worry about when he publishes. (That's one damn chilling article about stuff still happening today, if you think through the implications.)

              • by c0lo (1497653)
                Interesting, but bears the same relevance to the current topic as discussing the situation of Ohio death-row [slashdot.org] relevance to NASA's 0.5% of GDP budget [slashdot.org] - both happens in US, but there's no relevance in considering them together.
                • by lgw (121541)

                  There's very much relevance when some asshat suggests China has a better model of government (unless that was done sarcastically to highlight just how far we've fallen). There's a new trend on /. of love of totalitarian government, and it's a very dangerous idea. While US and Canadian scientists may struggle for funding, that's a far cry from fearing to publish research that could be somehow be taken as some sort of criticism of some government decision.

                  • by c0lo (1497653)

                    There's very much relevance when some asshat suggests China has a better model of government (unless that was done sarcastically to highlight just how far we've fallen).

                    Umm... what to say? Let's examine the cited context:

                    on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @12:18AM, AthanasiusKircher wrote:
                    Ball lightning is just one of those things that so many people have claimed to see, and it seems odd that scientists have so much trouble catching evidence of natural occurrences...

                    I'm raising the question: how one would expect to catch evidence of natural occurrences without taking a field trip?
                    Would you suggest... modeling/replicating it in the lab? Like: "Give me the expensive toys otherwise you, the gov or funding body, don't love science"? Is then a wonder the western scientists struggle for budget?

                    There's a new trend on /. of love of totalitarian government, and it's a very dangerous idea. While US and Canadian scientists may struggle for funding, that's a far cry from fearing to publish research that could be somehow be taken as some sort of criticism of some government decision.

                    Mate, when I was a kid, the admission coming from an American of the fact the Russians in the former USSR were doing science was in

          • by Maritz (1829006)

            To be fair, ball lightning sightings and claims to have photographed it or caught it on video are quite frequent, with a very high rate of hoaxes or mistaking other phenomena for it.

            There appears to be no universally agreed definition of ball lightening. The reports/anecdotes vary greatly in the properties of the 'ball'. This is unfortunate because people who think they're talking about the same thing are talking about completely different things.

        • Re:link to video? (Score:5, Informative)

          by SumDog (466607) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @01:50AM (#46021833) Homepage Journal

          It takes a long time to get stuff published. They had to take their results, form a paper, get people to analysis it and then it goes under peer review. For us to have all this information a little over a year out is actually quite good. Also, we know it's gone under review. It could still have bad information in it, but it's less likely.

      • Re:link to video? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by slashmydots (2189826) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @12:45AM (#46021519)
        Except that you can see it clearly start at high energy level on the spectrograph then drop in energy level to lower wavelengths of light closer to red like a mega-hot star quickly burning out. I thought that was fascinating and obvious proof that it's ball lightning.
    • Here's a link to the video on a popular Chinese video sharing website: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_X... [youku.com] Looks pretty lame to me though. I expected a big nefarious blob, not what looks more like a fart lit on fire.
      • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

        That video is not helpful at all. Also the site is a blatant rip off of YouTube. I'm sure my computer just got owned.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Yes, it's a ripoff of youtube from 2006. It's also one of the largest (the largest perhaps?) video portals on the internet. It's sad that you're stuck in a little bubble of "everything from China is terrible", and that _is_ the video, even though it sucks. Your name is deceiving, "noh8rz", yet your comment reeks of nothing but hate -- someone asked for the video, this is the f'in video, from "the" video portal from the country this article's team is from, I'm being helpful - you're just being a douche bag.
  • by PapayaSF (721268) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @12:22AM (#46021355) Journal

    Warning: This is another of those annoying website articles that describe a visually fascinating thing, but don't actually include any pictures or videos of said fascinating thing. Not even the the spectrograph, though that seems to be in the paper behind the paywall. The only picture is of some earlier lab-made ball lightning.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by Okian Warrior (537106)

      Warning: This is another of those annoying website articles that describe a visually fascinating thing, but don't actually include any pictures or videos of said fascinating thing. Not even the the spectrograph, though that seems to be in the paper behind the paywall. The only picture is of some earlier lab-made ball lightning.

      How the heck does someone stutter using a keyboard?

      • How the heck does someone stutter using a keyboard?

        Emacs

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @05:45AM (#46022577)

      It's in the first-linked article, directly underneath the picture.

    • don't actually include any pictures or videos

      Except for the picture...and video that I looked at when I visited.

  • Video (Score:5, Informative)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @12:26AM (#46021375)

    Ball lightning video [dailymail.co.uk]

    (Don't complain that it is the Daily Mail, it worked better than the Puffington Hosts.)

  • You've caught up to Nikola Tesla...

  • Stories (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @01:04AM (#46021591)

    A grandmother of mine told a story about ball lighting that she saw in her kitchen. During a thunderstorm a bolt of lighting struck near her home and a bright hissing ball jumped out the phone, fell to the floor, moved a little ways across the floor leaving small scorch marks and vanished. This would have been the 1940's and the phone was probably a wall mounted rotary.

    She was a sober and modest person with a sound mind throughout her life. I don't doubt the story.

    • Re:Stories (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cusco (717999) <brian.bixbyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @01:31AM (#46021745)

      It wasn't until the 1960s that scientists finally admitted that ball lightning actually existed. Since they couldn't explain how it could exist they declared it an 'old wives tale'.

      My grandmother was terrified of lightning storms, and I used to sit with her during them growing up. She said that in the 1940s lightning hit the telephone pole outside and blew the telephone right off the wall, starting a fire in the wall she put out with a pan of water. Another time my dad, who would have been about 5 years old, and my grandfather were in the barn trying to calm the cattle. Looking out the window she saw a ball of lightning roll in one end of the barn and then out the other without lighting the mounds of straw and hay inside on fire. She could never abide thunderstorms after that.

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        It would be fairer to say that there wasn't firm evidence for anything like "ball lightning" until that point. And the stuff that there's evidence for is still a tiny subset of ball lightning's supposed properties, most of which are more likely caused by phosphenes.

      • Re:Stories (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jbeaupre (752124) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @10:54AM (#46024653)

        I remember reading stories like that as a kid. Never thought I'd see it. Then we moved to a neighborhood where it was common. Yes, common.

        When there were dry thunderstorms, ball lightening would form above a tree down the street. One or two at a time, but dozens during a storm. About 30 to 60 cm in dia, they would drift down from the tree, changing colors until they popped.

        My brother and I would watch it from behind a screen door during at least 3 different storms I can think of. Wild to think it was common enough to recognize the sound and say "The ball lightning is back, let's go watch!"

        The great irony was we were living in family housing at a large research university. The never knew what they had happening on their own campus. I figured they wouldn't believe some kid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I was video taping with a digital camera and I believe I actually have ball lighting on tape... I viewed it several times trying to see if it wasn't some glare from lighting [obviously it was dark when the storm rolled thru] I am trying to determine where I should send a copy of the video, with details with elapsed time when they appear and then disappear.

      It tough to know how large they are but they had a multi color glow, I would like to have a University or NOVA to have a look to see these things were jus

    • by Drethon (1445051)
      When I was younger I was watching a lightning storm out the window. About 100 yards away I saw a ball of light above a tree and a moment later there was a flash of lightning so bright I lost my night vision for a few moments and there was instant thunder. I suspect it was a leader for the lightning or something like that rather than ball lightning, but who knows.
  • There was a speculative fiction TV show where ball lighting was a major plot on one episode. I think it was relatively short lived. Can't remember the name or find it using a standard search.
  • There are plenty of videos of ball lightning on Youtube [youtube.com]. There are some stupid fakes on that page, but plenty of real ones. Another Slashdot non-story with piss-poor links and a total lack of research.
    • and [...] spectrograph

      It's just another poorly worded summary.

      • Yep. The ball lightning being caught on video isn't that interesting, it's the spectrograph. That tells us what it's made of due to the emission lines in the spectrum. From this we can conclude that at least one type of ball lightning is caused when soil is heated and becomes a plasma. Getting more spectra of ball lightning will tell us if there are other types formed in nature, since other types have been made in the lab.
    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @04:29AM (#46022315) Journal

      My understanding is that it's the first time when we have sufficient review to conclude that this is real and is actually of the phenomenon it purports to document.

  • aduket...
    The stuff of streetfighter?
  • Ball lightning caught on video

    Wow! I sure would like to see that. Luckily this is the internet, where the magic of hypertext means information can be linked to quickly and easily.

    Hmm? There's no link to the video in the summary, you say? Well that's not very good.

    Hmm? There's not even a link to the video in the article? Slashtwats.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Are two VERY different things.

    Will O' the Wisp is a B 0/1 Flying regenerating creature
    Ball Lightning is an RRR 6/1 trample haste creature that has to be sacrificed at the end of turn.

    Similar? really???

  • Amazingly enough, a friend and I were talking about very odd weather in our areas just last week. He lives in Reno and I am about three or four hours north of him, in Oregon. Back in the summer of 2003, I had seen four mid-air plasma balls during a huge thunderstorm. I had even spoken to a meteorologist friend who worked for ABC Medford (Oregon) after the storm passed by, who told me I had seen a very rare event. I only wish I had video.

    What had happened was a bunch of thunderstorms had merged in to a supe

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