Navigation Links
Mysterious ball lightning: Illusion or reality?
Date:5/18/2010

This release is available in German.

Ball lightnings are circular light phenomena occurring during thunderstorms and there are a large class of reports by eyewitnesses having experienced such events. Scientists have been puzzled by the nature of these apparent fire balls for a long time. Now physicists at the University of Innsbruck have calculated that the magnetic field of long lightning strokes may produce the image of luminous shapes, also known as phosphenes, in the brain. This finding may offer an explanation for many ball lightning observations.

Magnetic fields may induce sensations

Physicists Josef Peer and Alexander Kendl from the University of Innsbruck have studied electromagnetic fields of different types of lightning strokes occurring during thunderstorms. Their calculations suggest that the magnetic fields of a specific class of long lasting repetitive lightning discharges show the same properties as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a technique commonly used in clinical and psychiatric practice to stimulate neural activity in the human brain.

Time varying and sufficiently strong magnetic fields induce electrical fields in the brain, specifically, in neurons of the visual cortex, which may invoke phosphenes. "In the clinical application of TMS, luminous and apparently real visual perceptions in varying shapes and colors within the visual field of the patients and test persons are reported and well examined," says Alexander Kendl. The Innsbruck physicists have now calculated that a near lightning stroke of long lasting thunderbolts may also generate these luminous visions, which are likely to appear as ball lightning. Their findings are published in the journal Physics Letters A.

Is the mystery of ball lightning solved now?

Ball lightnings are rather rare events. The majority of researchers agree that different phenomena are likely to be summarized under the collective term "ball lightning". Over time, various theories and propositions about the nature of these experiences have been suggested. Other researchers have produced luminous fire balls in the laboratory, which appeared not completely unlike ball lightning and could explain some of the observations but were mostly too short lived. Other plausible explanations for some of observations are St. Elmo's fire, luminous dust balls or small molten balls of metal.

In which cases then, can a lightning bolt invoke a ball-shaped phosphene? "Lightning strokes with repetitive discharges producing stimulating magnetic fields over a period of a few seconds are rather rare and only occur in about one in one hundred events," reports physicist Kendl. "An observer located within few hundred metres of a long lightning stroke may experience a magnetic phosphene in the shape of a luminous spot." Also other sensations, such as noises or smells, may be induced. Since the term "ball lightning" is well known from media reports, observers are likely to classify lightning phosphenes as such.

Alexander Kendl's hypothesis that in fact the majority of ball lightning observations are phosphenes is strongly supported by its simplicity: "Contrary to other theories describing floating fire balls, no new and other suppositions are necessary."


'/>"/>

Contact: Alexander Kendl
alexander.kendl@uibk.ac.at
43-512-507-6267
University of Innsbruck
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. 20/10 Vision in the Year 2010: Is "HD Vision" Beyond 20/20 a Reality?
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Mysterious ball lightning: Illusion or reality?
(Date:6/24/2016)... Marne, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... awareness about the dangers associated with chronic pain and the benefits of holistic treatments, ... for individuals who are suffering with Sickle Cell Disease. , Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Global law firm Greenberg Traurig, P.A. announced that 20 Florida ... their peers for this recognition are considered among the top 2 percent of lawyers ... as members of this year’s Legal Elite Hall of Fame: Miami Shareholders Mark ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... Inc, makers of Topricin and MyPainAway Pain Relief Products, join The ‘Business for a Fair ... hour by 2020 and then adjusting it yearly to increase at the same rate as ... the wage floor does not erode again, and make future increases more predictable. , The ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... The Haute ... Dr. Barry M. Weintraub as a prominent plastic surgeon and the network’s newest ... world, and the most handsome men, look naturally attractive. Plastic surgery should be ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... National recruitment firm Slone Partners ... with extensive sequencing and genomics experience, as Vice President of North American Capital Sales ... be responsible for leading the sales team in the commercialization of the HTG EdgeSeq ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/26/2016)... LAS VEGAS , June 26, 2016 ... movement to value-based care operating models within the health ... that enable greater financial efficiency , Deloitte offers ... address the key business issues impacting efficient cost optimization: ... alignment , These services facilitate better outcomes and ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016  Global Blood ... biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics for the treatment ... today announced the closing of its previously announced ... stock, at the public offering price of $18.75 ... offering were offered by GBT. GBT estimates net ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... June 24, 2016 Research ... "Structural Electronics 2015-2025: Applications, Technologies, Forecasts" ... In-Mold Electronics, Smart Skin, Structural Health ... Structural electronics involves electronic and/or electrical ... structures, replacing dumb structures such as vehicle bodies ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: