Friday, February 29, 2008

Ball lightninig

Ball lightning is an atmospheric phenomenon, the physical nature of which is still controversial. The term refers to reports of luminous, usually spherical objects which vary from pea-sized to several meters in diameter. It is sometimes associated with thunderstorms, but unlike lightning flashes, which last only a small fraction of a second, ball lightning reportedly lasts many seconds. Laboratory experiments have produced effects that are visually similar to reports of ball lightning, but it is presently unknown whether these are actually related to the naturally occurring version.

Scientific data on natural ball lightning is scarce due to its infrequency and unpredictability. The presumption of its existence is based on reported sightings from the public, and have therefore produced somewhat inconsistent findings. Due to inconsistencies and the lack of any reliable data, the true nature of ball lightning is still unknown. Until recently, ball lightning was often regarded as a fantasy or a hoax. Reports of the phenomenon were dismissed due to lack of physical evidence, and were often regarded the same way as UFO sightings. Recently however, the overwhelming number of sightings has caused a renewed interest in studying the possible existence and nature of the phenomenon.

Natural ball lightning appears infrequently and unpredictably, and is therefore rarely photographed. However there do exist several photos and even videos of what people claim to be ball lightning.

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