DIY Ball Lightning

From:  John H. Couture [SMTP:couturejh-at-worldnet.att-dot-net]
Sent:  Saturday, April 04, 1998 6:40 PM
To:  Tesla List
Subject:  Re: DIY Ball Lightning

  Mike -

  You are correct. Those fireballs are probably not plasma (ionized gas). It
apparently takes a very special combination of parameters and a lot of
wattage to create a real plasma fireball. 

  Several years ago I was testing some electrical switchgear when a fault
occured and a basketball size plasma sphere was formed. The sphere was a
blinding white color and there was no residue left like I had seen with
arcing. It was a completely different electrical phonomenon compared to an
arc. The power source was a 750 KVA transformer close by so there was plenty
of short circuit current available.

 I believe this large plasma sphere occurred because of the special ground
fault interrupter system which operated much quicker compared to the usual
circuit protection. In other words if you want to make a large plasma
fireball you need a large transformer and a very fast interruption of the
circuit when it is shorted. Very little energy is created (wattage x time)
so there is no damage as with arcing. Only ionization of the air into a
sphere of plasma occurs. 

 The strange behavior of lightning may be due to very large currents for
very short peroids of time and at relatively low energy. There have been
many eye-witness accounts of ball lightning. Refer to chapter fifteen of
Martin Uman's book
 "All About Lighting".  

  John Couture 

At 10:21 PM 4/2/98 -0600, you wrote:
>From:  Mike Harrison [SMTP:wwl-at-netcomuk.co.uk]
>Sent:  Thursday, April 02, 1998 3:01 AM
>To:  Tesla List
>Subject:  Re: DIY Ball Lightning
>>I'll have to look into this. People have been producing things they call
>>"plasmoids" in microwave ovens using candles, but I don't have a large
>>enough microwave with which to try this.  Unfortunately, I gave away a
>>750W beat-up microwave oven that I had earmarked for experiments.  I
>>will be on the lookout for another one, however.
>I'm not convinced the plasmoid  phenomenon is anything more than a
>carbon arc, occurring when 2 pieces of carbon form a dipole. A dish
>with several pea-sized pieces of coke (the black variety, not the
>white stuff:-), or broken carbon rods from a battery work very well.
>You sometimes observe 'flares' rising from the arc, but my guess is
>this is just the efffect oif the airflow from the oven fan. 
>     ____                                                           ____
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