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Weaponizing ball lightning

Posted on Wednesday, 25 February, 2009 | Comment icon 37 comments

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Ball lightning is a phenomenon that still isn't fully understood, however some scientists have already started looking in to ways of turning it in to a weapon.

"Two hundred years ago this week, the warship HMS Warren Hastings was struck by a weird phenomenon: "Three distinct balls of fire" fell from the heavens, striking the ship and killing two crewmen, leaving behind "a nauseous, sulfurous smell," according to the Times of London."

  View: Full article |  Source: Wired

  Discuss: View comments (37)


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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #28 Posted by Promethius on 18 March, 2009, 23:14
It's a bit tragic really, we've done so much fighting, but were only just getting started...Just wait 'till they produce nanobots which can kill us from the inside and selective-viruses and all sorts of other things guarenteed to spoil the party.
Comment icon #29 Posted by clubfoot on 18 March, 2009, 23:27
I made a mistake before, I meant to say sub-atomic, not molecular, anyhow, there is always an 'upside' to the 'downside', nanobots may very well end up saving peoples' lives through less 'intrusive' surgery. When we overcome our propensity for violence we can actually be a pretty good 'bunch of people'. Philanthropy does actually still exist, all we have to do is remember that and 'apply' it. Easy to say, harder to do.
Comment icon #30 Posted by aquatus1 on 18 March, 2009, 23:39
I'm a little surprised that people think humans are growing more and more deadly. It's quite the opposite.Ancient wars meant death and destruction for entire civilizations. Hundreds of thousands dead and mutilated. Rape, ravage, and torture were not only the norm, they were encouraged.Today, we have much more powerful weapons, but at the same time, we have much more precise weapons. Were taking out a target once meant razing an entire city to the ground, today a single missile can take out the building, often with little to no collateral damage.And weapons will continue to get more... [More]
Comment icon #31 Posted by Ghost Ship on 18 March, 2009, 23:50
Ball lightning is theoretical let alone it's potential uses as a weapon. Using it in any context for points in a discussion as if it existed is not valid.I agree with aquatus 1. If it weren't for the millitary investing in weapons technology the world actually be worse off because using the more primitive weapons would cause even more damage. The atomic bomb... . I suspect it will be put into numerous uses one day for space exploration and for terraforming and exploration on other worlds.
Comment icon #32 Posted by aquatus1 on 19 March, 2009, 0:17
Actually, ball lightning is quite factual now, and what it actually is is quite likely soon to be discovered. Ball lightning can now be replicated reliably in a laboratory, where they do it using the same silicon generators they use to create regular lightning.
Comment icon #33 Posted by Ghost Ship on 19 March, 2009, 0:24
Huh, is that so. I need a subion to one of them science and technology magazines to keep up to date.
Comment icon #34 Posted by aquatus1 on 19 March, 2009, 0:26
It's pretty neat. They do a zap, and dozens of these little golf balls suddenly drop and scatter over the floor. Some are light and fluffy, some are almost solid, and most act like googly balls. They only last a second or two, though.
Comment icon #35 Posted by Ghost Ship on 19 March, 2009, 8:17
I found a video about the ball lightning made in a lab. Amazing. Ball LightningIs there such thing as welding balls or is this for sure lightning...
Comment icon #36 Posted by aquatus1 on 19 March, 2009, 10:49
Yeah, there's welding balls, but they don't act like this. Welding balls act more like little burning rocks.
Comment icon #37 Posted by clubfoot on 19 March, 2009, 13:41
Just had another thought. There is no power in lightning bolts, but, what about the other, alternative, potential consequences of lightning's interaction with the rest of Nature? Check out the Chaiten Volcano eruption in Chile on May 3, 2008. It can be found on

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