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No. 36: Nov-Dec 1984

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Spiked Ball Lightning

December 3, 1979. Fleetwood, England.

"On the evening in question there was an intermittent thunderstorm with rain in heavy showers. My son Michael had just come in from the college and had gone into the room and was standing watching the T.V. The time would be a little before 6.00 p.m. I said something to the effect that his meal would be ready and he'd better wash his hands, so he turned the television off, although it remained plugged in... At this point a spherical object about six inches (15 cm) in diameter floated down the (sealed) chimney and into the room. It appeared to be rather like a soap bubble but was dull purple in colour covered or rather made up of a furry/spiky emission all over. The coating seemed to be about one inch (2.5 cm) thick with spikes of two inches here and there but changing all the time. It was quite dim and appeared to be semi-transparent, in so much as I could see through to the inside of the opposite side, which appeared quite smooth -- all the spikes pointing outwards from the surface. It appeared to me to be insubstantial and made no sound. It drifted between the two of us towards the television screen at about 30 inches (75 cm) from the floor, covering the six feet (2 m) in about four seconds. When about eight inches from the screen it disappeared (imploded?) with a fairly loud crack/pop sound leaving behind a smell as of an electrical discharge."

(Rowe, Michael W.; "Another Unusual Ball Lightning Incident," Journal of Meteorology, U.K., 9:135, 1984.)

Reference. A long chapter on ball lightning (GLB) can be found in our catalog: Lightning, Auroras. Ordering information here.

From Science Frontiers #36, NOV-DEC 1984. 1984-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987