Ball lightning: a puzzle for contemporary science

Ball lightning is a rare atmospheric electrical phenomenon. It is a glowing structure, having life-times of up to several minutes, and appearing during a thunderstorm.

Some of the spectacular properties of ball lightning will be reviewed: the huge energy content, the ability to pass through tiny holes (as observed in some cases), the emission of strong electro­magnetic radiation (which can damage domestic electronics), etc.

The potential danger of ball lightning to humans and animals will also be discussed. The existence of ball lightning is still a riddle for modern science since this phenomenon has not been reproduced in a laboratory. There is no widely accepted theoretical model of it either. An overview of some of the theoretical approaches for the description of this phenomenon – since the pioneering research by F. Arago in 1837 to the present time – will be given. The major experimental attempts to generate an artificial ball lightning will also be discussed.

Everyone is welcome to attend this seminar.