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:5/24/2017)... ... 24, 2017 , ... Dr. Manju R. Kejriwal, a leading Ohio dentist, is ... without a referral. Dr. Kejriwal understands the emotional and financial toll traditional orthodontics can ... OH. Patients no longer need to feel the esthetic effects of wires and brackets ...
(Date:5/24/2017)... Birmingham, Clarkston, Lake Orion, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... ... ... Endometriosis is a disease affecting the female reproductive tract in which ... itself on the pelvic structures causing inflammation and pain. Patients experiencing painful ...
(Date:5/24/2017)... ... 24, 2017 , ... Rob Lowe is a sought after actor, and also ... brings the public important topics from all aspects of life, and a new segment ... surrounding feet and ankles. , Podiatry is essential to people’s overall well-being, and if ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... May 23, 2017 , ... MDLand International (MDLand), a leading ... that its iClinic V12.2 solution has achieved approval from National Center for Quality ... 2017 standards which emphasize team-based care with a significant focus on the care ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... ... New England Journal Of Medicine Confirms Viability of Rory’s Regulations and Deems ... Foundation Calls on Health & Human Services, Tom Price to Adopt Rory’s Regulations Nationally- ... reported on a new study released on May 21, 2017 in the New England ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/4/2017)... 2017   BioLife Solutions , Inc. (NASDAQ: ... of proprietary clinical grade hypothermic storage and ... today announced that the Company,s first quarter 2017 financial ... May 11, 2017, and that the Company will host ... PT that afternoon. Management will provide an overview of ...
(Date:5/3/2017)... , May 3, 2017  Kalorama Information ... of nine percent next year and this is ... and hematopoietic stem cell (HSCT) or bone marrow ... testing technologies are well-suited for this task. This ... research publisher Kalorama Information. The various PCR-based methodologies, ...
(Date:5/3/2017)... May 3, 2017  West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. ... for injectable drug administration, announced today that ... Technical Services, and Diane Paskiet , Director, ... presentations focused on West,s expertise in the areas ... well as providing commentary on updated industry guidance. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: