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Science & Technology

Weaponizing ball lightning

By T.K. Randall
February 25, 2009 · Comment icon 37 comments



Image Credit: sxc.hu
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. Ball lightning has been the subject of much scientific scrutiny over the years. And, as with many powerful natural phenomena, the question arises: "Can we turn it into a weapon?" "


Source: Wired | Comments (37)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #28 Posted by Promethius 14 years ago
If we come to truly understand quantum physics we may even be able to 'disrupt' things at a molecular level. 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 14 years ago
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. 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 ... [More]
Comment icon #30 Posted by aquatus1 14 years ago
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 and more... [More]
Comment icon #31 Posted by Ghost Ship 14 years ago
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 14 years ago
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. 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 14 years ago
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 14 years ago
Huh, is that so. I need a subion to one of them science and technology magazines to keep up to date. 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 14 years ago
I found a video about the ball lightning made in a lab. Amazing. Is there such thing as welding balls or is this for sure lightning...
Comment icon #36 Posted by aquatus1 14 years ago
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 14 years ago
Whats all the complaining about? Our nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons are far more destructive than ball lightining could ever be. Heavens forbid our goverment has a potentially cheap, effective, and demoralizing weapon that does not put our serviceman in harms way. You would need a massive amount of energy for it to be more deadly than a standard cruise missle, why is everyone commenting how this is a sign of the apocolypse? The weapon would be effective at terrain deniance, messing with electronic systems, and demoralization tactics, but even the strongest known lighting bolts barel... [More]


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