The Phenomenon of Ball Lightning

Good Essays
The Phenomenon of Ball Lightning

Another startling sighting - and certainly one of the most detailed and scientifically credible - comes from Professor Roger Jennison (Department of Electronics, University of Kent) concerning his experiences on board a late-night flight from New York to Washington in March 1963. He later wrote of his experiences in the November 1969 issue of Nature. Jennison states that the phenomenon occurred after the aircraft encountered a thunderstorm in which it was enveloped by a bright and audible electrical discharge. Some seconds later a glowing sphere some 20cm in diameter emerged from the pilot's cabin and passed down the aircraft's central aisle approximately 50cm from Jennison. The ball moved on a straight course the whole length of the aisle 75cm above the floor at a velocity relative to the aircraft of about 1.5 ms-1. It was blue-white in colour and its optical output amounted to about 5 to 10 Watts. Interestingly, no heat was felt when it passed close by and the limb darkening (like that of the Sun) gave it an almost solid appearance, indicating that it was optically opaque. No asymmetry could be seen in any dimension so it was impossible to determine whether or not it was spinning.

(First published in AA&ES Magazine, June 1996)

In German, ball lightning is called kugelblitz.

Professor Jennison's experience is one of the best ball lightning sightings on record. There are reports of this phenomenon going back at least to the Middle Ages, and maybe as far back as ancient Greece. Like meteorites before it, ball lightning is one of those phenomena that science has been reluctant to accept, with a few hold-outs remaining even today.

Ball lightning, or kugelblitz or boules de feu, someti...

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...ffer's analysis, however, is that he is comparing a natural phenomenon - ball lighting - with something that is supposed to be intelligently controlled - UFOs. Why shouldn't UFOs, if they are intelligently controlled, exhibit anthropomorphic characteristics such as avoiding crowds and cities? Not that they always do so - I am reminded of a UFO that appeared to the audience of a crowded outdoor theater in China, and one that appeared over Beverly Hills, not to mention several that have appeared over military bases.

What if UFOs are both a rare and a jealous phenomenon? What if there is a core of real UFO sightings that are sightings of intelligently controlled craft whose pilots try to avoid appearing before large groups of people whenever possible?