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No. 14: Winter 1981 Supplement

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Do lightning channels accelerate matter?

E.W. Crew suggests in this paper that two rare classes of meteorological observations may be created by the intense electrostatic accelerating forces present in lightning channels. The first class of observations consists of blasts of hot air noted some distance from violent lightning strikes but seeming associated with the discharges. Second, some superhailstones (hydrometeors) also seem to be correlated with violent lightning. The physical mechanism for the concentration and propulsion of matter is the electrostatic force naturally present in lightning discharge channels; it functions much the same as the particle accelerators in the physics lab.

The observations of hot air blasts and superhailstones collected by Crew to support his theory are indeed suggestive, but more are needed. Crew also feels that some UFO sightings may be produced by the same mechanism.

(Crew, E.W.; "Meteorological Flying Objects," Royal Astronomical Society Quarterly Journal, 21:216, 1980.)

Comment. Note also that the fall of thunderstones is usually coincident with lightning discharges; and that some high quality observations of thunderstone falls are on record -- despite the tendency of Science to relegate them to myth. One must also consider the possibility that the passage of a meteor or superhailstone through the atmosphere might trigger lightning, thus putting the cart before the horse.

From Science Frontiers #14, Winter 1981. 1981-2000 William R. Corliss