General, Research, Technology

Interesting and little-known facts about lightning

For some, a zipper is a fastener, for others -designation of how quickly you need to run away to the store, and for the third - what is painted on the radiator grille of their German car or on the forehead of Gary Potter. But for most, lightning is still the very natural phenomenon that occurs during a thunderstorm and arouses great interest of photographers. Indeed, lightnings are beautiful and bewitching, but most of them only know about them that is enough to stop being afraid of them, as our ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Although, many are afraid of them now. In this article, we will talk about interesting facts about lightning, and what they really should be afraid of.

The famous god of thunder from Scandinavian mythology Thor.


  • 1 Lightning strike statistics
  • 2 Is lightning dangerous to humans
  • 3 Is lightning in a car, airplane, house dangerous
  • 4 Why is thunder heard after lightning
  • 5 Lightning and planets
  • 6 Lightning in popular beliefs
  • 7 Where do lightning come from?
  • 8 Why do people fear lightning and thunder

Lightning strike statistics

You probably guessed that lightning has a veryhigh temperature, but I’m almost sure that most did not even assume that it was five times higher than the surface temperature of the Sun and reaches almost 30,000 degrees Celsius. Of course, this is an approximate value, but several times the excess is absolutely accurate.

Lightning - an electric spark discharge in the atmosphere, usually can occur during a thunderstorm, manifested by a bright flash of light and its accompanying thunder.

Lightning propagation speed reaches 56,000km per second. That is, in just one second it can make almost a half turn around our planet. Moreover, the average time of the discharge itself is about a quarter of a second, and the average length of the lightning is 9-10 kilometers.

Far less hurried are thunderstorms, which“Carry” lightning. They move in an hour only 40 km. But every second on Earth 1800 thunderstorms rattle, and every second, according to various estimates, from 40 to 60 lightnings strike the planet’s surface.

So lightning looks like their cosmos.

If you thought that lightning, according to a saying,does not hit twice in one place, then you were wrong. This is a very common occurrence. Especially if the thunderstorm does not move very fast. The opposite opinion was formed just because of the rapid movement of thunderstorms. In this case, the lightning simply does not have time to strike twice in one place.

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Is lightning dangerous to humans

But to the question "is it possible to survive after a strikelightning ”there is no clear answer. More precisely, it sounds like “maybe yes, maybe not”. About 25 percent of those hit by lightning die. In fact, this is not so much, if you take into account the features of this phenomenon .. The problem is that if you survive, there is a risk of serious damage to organs and the nervous system. Among the side effects can be noted memory loss, loss of sensation, sleep disturbance, impaired functioning of the senses and constant pain that lasts for many years.

This is what a person looks like in whom lightning struck. A very strong discharge passes through his body.

Accurate world statistics of lightning strikes byit’s hard for the world to find, because in some African villages it is simply not being conducted. But there are statistics for Russia and the United States. In the first case, it is about 500 people a year, and in the second - 200 people a year. According to some estimates, the probability of dying from a lightning strike is one in two million. With the same probability you can die by falling out of bed. What to do with this information, decide for yourself.

Slightly mixed data suggests that inlightning strikes men about 6 times more often than women. Most likely, this is not connected with mysticism or with what you thought about. The most likely explanation is that men spend more time outdoors. Especially in the fields during agricultural work, where they are caught by a thunderstorm.

Moreover, most often lightning strikes people not inthe midst of a thunderstorm. According to the US National Meteorological Service, lightning can “reach” from a distance of 15 km. Therefore, if you hear thunder, you are already in potential danger.

Few want to be killed by lightning.

And do not stand near cows and oaks. According to signs, next to the cows the chance of being struck by lightning is higher (it’s logical, because shepherds who could not leave the herd died and fell behind on the street), and lightnings often fall into oaks simply according to statistics. As such, there is no protection, although some sources find information that in the middle of the last millennium, ladies wore hats in which there was a metal element, and wire dragged along the ground. Such is a portable lightning rod.

They also say that if the clothes are wet, then lightning will do less harm. Most likely, this will happen as in the case of lightning in the car.

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Is lightning in a car, plane, house dangerous

It is also difficult to give a definite answer, but if witheverything is normal with the equipment, and there is a lightning rod on the building, it is rather safe. There are even statistics according to which lightning strikes airplanes on average every seven to ten thousand flight hours. This is often enough.

Lightning hits the plane is not so colorful, but for obvious reasons there are no real photos.

In the case of cars, hit is also safe. The fact is that the body is essentially a Faraday cage. The charge passes through it and does not harm the person inside. True, electrical equipment may be damaged. In airplanes more and more reliable. The fuselage has additional protection elements that conduct current through it further into the ground. A lightning strike on an airplane is not even an emergency situation. It just checks the systems and, if everything is fine, the plane continues to move.

This is what the Faraday cage looks like. The man is safe.

Faraday cage - a device invented forshielding of equipment from external electromagnetic fields. Usually a cell made of conductive material. A cell can conduct current, leveling the effect on the equipment inside.

Lightning conductor in houses is a remoteabove the roof is an element that is connected to the ground and is securely isolated from the structure of the house. Since lightning travels along the shortest path to the earth, it falls into this element and is safely discharged without harming other objects. For example, we can say that lightning strikes about 25 times a year in the famous Empire State Building. Lightning conductor decides.

It looks like a lightning rod on the roof of the house.

Usually it makes no sense to put lightning rods on each house - one on a relatively large area is enough. Naturally, it should be on the highest structure or a special tower.

Why is thunder heard after lightning

Surely many people know the answer to this question, but without this the story will not be complete. Here it is enough to delve into physics and the answer will appear by itself.

Thunder and lightning arise in one moment. In this case, thunder is a consequence of the release of a large amount of energy during a lightning strike. Here it must be understood that thunder is sound, and lightning is light. The speed of propagation of a sound wave at the surface of the Earth is approximately 340 meters per second. The speed of light is 300,000 kilometers per second.

In an approximate calculation, we can assume that the lightreaches us instantly without delay, and the sound travels 340 meters in one second. As a result, multiplying the number of seconds between the flash and how we hear the thunder by 340, you can get the distance to the lightning in meters.

Lightning and planets

Lightning can appear not only on ourplanet, but also on others, if there are favorable conditions for their formation - the gas environment. So, lightning can be observed on Saturn, Uranus, Venus and Jupiter. On some of these planets, lightnings are in stony, thousands and even millions of times more powerful than earthly ones.

Jupiter also has lightning.

Moreover, even on Earth when lightning strikessand in it then you can find strips of glass that were formed from such exposure. True, this is relevant only with ordinary lightning. Ball will not give such an effect. Yes, and see her very rare. The probability of doing this at least once in a lifetime does not exceed one chance out of ten thousand.

It would seem that our planet is three quarters coveredwater and it is in the water that lightning should strike. But this is not so. Powerful convection air currents form over land and 80 percent of lightning strikes just on a hard surface.

However, sometimes lightning strikes into the water.

In general, only a quarter of lightning reaches the surface of the Earth. The rest are discharged between the layers of air masses at different heights.

Lightning in popular beliefs

There are a lot of such beliefs and it makes no sense to list everything. Let us dwell only on a few, the most interesting and more or less confirmed.

About the cows and the probability of dying next to them, Ialready said above. But there is a scientific and statistical explanation for this, and the fact that in the Middle Ages lightning was chased by bells is only religious. It was believed that bells cast out evil spirits, and thunder and lightning were a manifestation of devilish forces. That is why during a thunderstorm they tried to ring all the bells that were only in the village or city. This led to ringleaders often being victims, as churches and temples were always the tallest buildings in the area. Perhaps they would have helped the bay leaf, but only the British believed in its protective properties against lightning.

Lightning helped the pearls to spring. At least the ancient Greeks believed this, believing that its appearance was the result of a lightning strike on the surface of the sea. And the Aztecs believed that lightning helps the souls of the dead easier to go into the depths of the earth. They thought she was splitting the earth, escorting the dead in their difficult path.

Where do lightning come from?

Now the answer to this question is unequivocal. They emerge from the atmosphere and are a discharge between layers of air or a layer of air and earth. Sometimes they hit the ground, and sometimes between the layers of the atmosphere, but for a modern educated person there is nothing mystical about them. But before, people just didn’t come up with it .. The most famous character is Zeus - the god of heaven, thunder and lightning in ancient Greek mythology. He was not only the main of the Olympian gods, the husband of Hera and the brother of Poseidon, but also knew the whole world. That is, he was the main god. In Roman mythology, he was identified with Jupiter, the Slavs had Perun, and the Scandinavians - Thor.

Zeus has always been depicted in very different ways.

There were other beliefs, but all of them, as a rule,Were local or based on local beliefs. In the first case, it was the weapon of some mystical creature living in a cave, valley, harbor and other places, who did not want anyone to approach him and thus protect their possessions. In the second case, these were beliefs in the wrath of the local gods, or vice versa, warnings of the light forces of impending disaster.

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There have always been many options, which is not surprising,since it was simply impossible to explain the principle of the operation of lightning without knowledge of physics and its section of electrics. So people came up with that without getting, in fact, simply sharing their fantasies.

Why are people afraid of thunder and lightning

As a last fact in this article,perhaps I will give the reasons for the fear of thunder and lightning in our time. First of all, it is worth noting that such a fear is called brontophobia and is most often found in young people under 25 years old and mainly in girls.

Thunderstorms are the most commonchildren, but there are not rare cases when this fear sweeps through life, almost without weakening. This can happen even because of a one-time strong fright, when the child met this phenomenon, not being ready for it and not knowing anything about it.

Lightning enchants and scares at the same time.

Peals of thunder have a certain tonality,which is perceived on a subconscious level, and a bright flash of light in the dark, when the night lights up like day, but with a purple glow, causes even more fear. This is especially true for children under four years of age who simply do not know what to expect from the new phenomenon.

There is also a genetic moment, because ourthe ancestors were not as protected as we are. They did not have the understanding, about which I wrote above, and a reliable home. Wooden and thatched houses were burned by lightning, trees fell, and people were often killed on the spot.

All this led, leads and will lead tothe appearance in people of brontophobia, which does not interfere with living in the direct sense of the word, but makes it not comfortable on rainy days. We have to put up with this.