IS THERE A MACHINE THAT PRODUCES LIGHTNING?
Until now, no one could predict where lightning would strike. This has made it difficult to research, especially since lightning produced in a lab has totally different properties. Martin Uman and his team at the University of Florida’s International Center for Lightning Research and Testing developed a device that can capture lightning. They wait for a storm and then shoot a rocket attached to a cord into the air… The basic requirement for natural lightning is a charge separation, which is why there are such things as negative lightning and the much rarer positive lightning. To trigger the lightning, one end of a spool of copper wire is attached to a 6-foot model rocket and the other end is attached to a rod on the ground. The rocket is launched into the storm and contributes a positive charge. In response a negative charge follows the same path down to the rod. A charge then shoots up, and a bolt is born. This means the researchers can precisely control the strike point and can even determine which objects will be hit. And they can analyze the lightning: A measuring station on the ground collects strike data. The whole process is recorded by a high-speed camera that provides 1 million frames per second.