There were three soldiers struck dead by lightning in a small town
in France in 1940s, when they were looking for shelter from the rain
under a banyan. But they were still on their feet like nothing had happened.
No response was given when passersby tried to talk to them,
while the three corpse immediately fell down and turned into ashes once
they were touched. There was a strange thing in a small city in America:
a housewife found that all the raw meat she put in the fridge was cooked
after she arrived home from the vegetable market. Later researches
by scientists revealed that the fridge became an electric stove out of
ball lightning. What was puzzling was that the fridge still functioned well!
On a summer noon in a collective farm in the Soviet Union, 1956,
two kids were taking shelter in the cowshed because of the rain.
Suddenly an orange fire ball dropped from the white poplar in front of
the house and was approaching them directly. The fire ball went into explosion
with a ‘bang’ sound after a kick from a kid. 11 of the twelve cattle died,
whereas the kids were knocked down to the ground and no one injured.
Afterwards the fire ball was known as the rare ball lightning.
An airliner from the Soviet Union was hit by ball lightning near
the Black Sea in January, 1981. A big fire ball broke into the cockpit
with explosion. Several seconds later, it appeared in the passenger cabin along
with its penetration of the sealed metal bulkhead. Then its departure was quietly
carried out following a dramatic performance. After the accident, the plane
was found to have two holes on the bulkhead, one on the nose of the plane,
the other on the tail. On 16th, March, frequent lightning happened suddenly
with rumbling thunder in Zaoyang City, Hubei Province. It killed 9 people
and injured over 20 on scene, which makes it an extremely disastrous weather.
According to witnesses, a wide area of red light was seen where the strike happened,
which is just the symbol of ball lightning. There are some doubts that ball lightning
is also to blame for the Tunguska Explosion in 19th century in Russia.
To prevent ball lightning, here is something you need to
pay attention to:
During a thunderstorm, shut down doors and windows in case
of vross ventilation. Gently avoid the floating fire ball
and never touch it if you come across one. Other cautions
are as same as those to avoid normal lightning, which means
one should stay in low areas or in rooms,etc, rather than
places under trees or poles, in the fields or somewhere high
The scientists’ prediction shows that ball lightning is a
vortex of air created at the sharp turn of the lightning
channel. Carrying highly-charged particles, it is a lump
of gas mixture made up of oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and
little hydrogen oxide.
Ball lightning usually follows streak lightning that
seemingly is the requirement for the former. The rarity
of ball lightning creates huge difficulty to study it
and keeps it as one of the natural mysteries.
In the Dream Pool Essays written by Shen Kuo, a famous
scientist during Northern Song Dynasty, the author wrote
down what was really happening along with ball lightning.
The note also shows how the storms move: the ball lightning
entered the western chamber of the hall and get out under
the eaves and between the windows. Safe and sound as the
house was, only the walls and the window paper got blackened
after the thunder and lightning.