Ball-lightning hits German tourist bus

Ball-lightning hits German tourist bus

(Der Spiegel, Aug. 11, 2011)

It was a shock for a German tourist group: a ball-lightning hit their bus in the vicinity to the city of Kaliningrad in Russia. The rare natural phenomenon destroyed the entire on-board electronic - the passengers got away with the scare of their lives.

MOSCOW: An extremely rare natural phenomenon has brutally interrupted the trip of a German tourist group in Russia. Lightning struck their bus and damaged it severely ["irreparably," according to RIA News] According to Russian media, it was ball lightning. The 19 vacationers suffered no harm.

The bolt of lightning destroyed the entire on-board electronics of the bus, as well as the tyres, a spokeswoman for the city of Kaliningrad declared. At the time of the incident, several thunderstorms were developing in the area.

"The bus, of the brandname SETRA, was practically new and equipped with all kinds of electronic gadgets. Lightning hit the antenna, spread through the vehicle then exploded in the central electric block," said Tamara Toropova. The destroyed bus will now be transported back to Germany by ferry-boat.

These extremely rare forms of lightning, in the shape of spheres or "eggs," can, according to observers, float freely in the air or roll along the ground.

Are comet debris responsible for ball lightning?

Science has until now barely researched the phenomenon of ball-lightning, there exist hardly any pictures or videos of them occurring in nature. In many labs, though, artificial ball-lightning of brief duration has already been produced.

There are several theories as to the origin of these weather-phenomena. "For the formation of ball lightning, at least a thunderstorm in the vicinity is necessary," said Ute Ebert, a plasma physicist at the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica in Amsterdam. It is, for instance, conceivable, that ball lightning can be created by a normal lightning bolt hitting sandy soil.

Minuscule particles of matter could so become loaded electrically, ionized and thrown high up in the air. The result: a so-called plasma. Under certain conditions, which have not been definitely explained, this plasma could then form itself into a bright ball of lightning.

Other theories speculate that an electric charge in a thunderstorm-laden atmosphere suffices to produce ball lightning above water surfaces. Australian scientists emitted the hypothesis last year that fragments of comets could create the conditions for the creation of ball-lightning.

Paragraphe 1

Nunc sapien mauris, imperdiet ac pellentesque quis, facilisis non sapien. Maecenas congue vehicula mi, id luctus mi scelerisque nec. Cras viverra libero ut velit ullamcorper volutpat. Maecenas ut dolor eget ante interdum auctor quis sed nunc. Proin faucibus, mauris vitae molestie sodales, erat nisi rhoncus justo, in placerat turpis elit sed eros. Mauris molestie, justo et feugiat rutrum, arcu metus dapibus quam, sollicitudin tempus tortor dolor et nibh.