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Power

Ball Lightning Created In the Lab 190

Posted by kdawson
from the hot-stuff dept.
EWAdams writes to point us to a New Scientist report that the mysterious phenomenon of ball lighting has now been created in a Brazilian research lab. The phenomenon has long been reported anecdotally but never explained or understood. Scientists have devised numerous possible explanations, including mini black holes left over from the Big Bang, but have had little success in producing working examples. From the article: "A more down-to-earth theory... is that ball lightning forms when lightning strikes soil, turning any silica in the soil into pure silicon vapor. As the vapor cools, the silicon condenses into a floating aerosol bound into a ball by charges that gather on its surface, and it glows with the heat of silicon recombining with oxygen. To test this idea, a [Brazilian] team... took wafers of silicon just 350 micrometers thick, placed them between two electrodes and zapped them with currents of up to 140 amps. Then... they moved the electrodes slightly apart, creating an electrical arc that vaporised the silicon. The arc spat out glowing fragments of silicon but also, sometimes, luminous orbs the size of ping-pong balls that persisted for up to 8 seconds." Here is a movie of the phenomenon.
Education

Global Warming Only a Theory, Says School Board 1089

Posted by Zonk
from the i'd-think-seattle-would-know-about-rain dept.
BendingSpoons writes "A Seattle school board has placed a moratorium on screenings of 'An Inconvenient Truth', having found its subject matter too controversial. Echoing the language of the evolution debate, the school board found that students must be told that global warming is only a theory and presented with an opposing viewpoint. The ban was prompted by the complaints of a parent: '"Condoms don't belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He's not a schoolteacher," said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. "The information that's being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is ... The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn't in the DVD."'"

Today's scientific question is: What in the world is electricity? And where does it go after it leaves the toaster? -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"

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