Friday, February 20, 2009

Thunderstorm Sprites' Light Source Sought

"Scientists Seek Sprite Light Source" (June 7, 2005)

"Giant red blobs, picket fences, upward branching carrots, and tentacled octopi --- these are just a few of the phrases used to describe sprites --- spectacular, eerie flashes of colored light high above the tops of powerful thunderstorms that can travel up to 50 miles high in the atmosphere...."

"...Most researchers have long supported the theory that sprites are linked to major lightning charges. Still, some scientists believe that conditions high in the atmosphere, like meteoritic dust particles or gravity waves might also induce sprite formation.

"Now, a study led by Steven Cummer of Duke University, Durham, N.C. and Walter Lyons of FMA Research, Inc., Fort Collins, Colo. has found more evidence that sprites are generated by major lightning strikes. They also found...."

Posted in 2005, this isn't the latest research, but it gives a pretty good look at where lightning research and other high-energy physics studies are going - now that scientists have decided that sprites are real.

(I remember the 'good old days,' when pilots, soldiers, and other 'credulous' people who saw sprites were assumed to be crazy: if they didn't 'admit' that they were hallucinating. And, I remember when scientists had to decide whether to claim that video cameras hallucinate, too: or acknowledge that sprites exist.)

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