What is lightning?

June 23, 2015 1:01 PM |

What is lightningLightning, as we see, is a bright flash of electricity coming down from the sky. It is generally produced by a thunderstorm. At times, lightning can have dangerous consequences. In fact, every year lightning kills and injures a lot of people.

According to latest satellite data, every day more than 3 million lightning flashes worldwide. Or else we could also say that we receive more than 30 flashes per second on average.

What is Thunder?

A single lightning flash releases as much energy as blowing up a ton of TNT (a chemical compound Trinitrotoluene, popularly known as a useful explosive material). This energy heats up the air channel by thousands of degree centigrade, in a fraction of a second. Air does not get time to heat up that fast and thus, pressure is built up. This pressure compresses adjoining areas, which give rise to shockwaves known as thunder.

How does lightning form?

Within a cloud, water and ice keep moving around. They are forced up by warm air currents, pulled down by gravity, and compressed inside the cloud. This creates static electricity and the whole cloud slowly fills up with electrical charges. These charges get separated in the cloud. As in, the positive charges or protons move up to the top of the cloud, and the negative charges or electrons go down to the bottom of the cloud.

Since opposites attract, positive charges build up on the ground beneath the cloud.

The electrical charges concentrate around any pointed object like the mountain, people, or tree. Whenever, the charge coming up from these points connects with a charge reaching down from the clouds, lightning strikes.

We all know that light travels faster than sound. Light travels about 300 million metres per second, while sound travels at a mere speed of 300 metres per second. Thus, light is a million times faster than sound. If a thunderstorm is 1 mile away, there will be a gap of 4 seconds between the flash and the rumble. Therefore, every time we see a flash, we may not hear a thunder. Lightning flashes can be seen from far off places, but the thunder might die down before reaching us.

Interesting facts about Lightning:

• At any given time, over 2,000 thunderstorms occur worldwide. Each of them produce over a 100 lightning per second on an average.

• Or else we could also say that every day more than 8 million lightning flashes worldwide.

• That’s over 8 million lightning bolts every day.

• Each lightning bolt is about 3 miles long and a centimeter wide.

• A lightning bolt discharges 1 to 10 billion joules of energy.

• 'Fulminology' is the study of lightning and 'Astraphobia' is the fear of thunder and lightning.

Image credit - vak1969.com

 

 


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