German researchers debunk ball lightning myth

The existence of ball lightnings as atmospheric phenomena is still a controversial topic among meteorologists, with many scientists even calling them a hoax. Now plasma physicists from Humboldt University in Berlin seem to have developed a way to artificially create these objects in a laboratory environment.

The main findings: Ball lightnings are very simple phenomena and, contrary to popular belief, not dangerous at all. The German scientists managed to create ball lightnings just by dipping two electrodes into a tub filled with water.

As a result, a small fire ball, similar to a mushroom cloud, ascends from the water surface and simply disappears after a second. The Germans now believe ball lightnings observed in real nature could be the result of a lightning strike in a puddle, for example. According to the research team, even just a glass of water is enough to create artificial ball lightnings.

The phenomena now also turn out to be totally harmless. Ball lightnings are not really able to strike people or objects, as the researchers found out, who also claim they can’t even ignite a piece of paper.

Via Der Spiegel [GER]