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Ball Lightning: Particle Helps Scientists Observe Natural Phenomenon

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By    |   Wednesday, 07 March 2018 01:01 PM

A ball lighting-like particle created by researchers may help shed light on the mysterious bright spheres of light that occur during thunderstorms.

Up until now, scientists have not been able to get close enough to ball lighting to fully understand it despite years of study, but now researchers may have finally found a way to analyze the phenomenon in a lab by creating a quasiparticle, called Shankar skyrmion, that mimics the electrical and magnetic fields of ball lightning, Engadget reported.

Scientists documented their find in a study published in Science Advances on Tuesday.

“It is remarkable that we could create the synthetic electromagnetic knot, that is, quantum ball lightning, essentially with just two counter-circulating electric currents,” said Dr Mikko Möttönen, leader of the theoretical effort at Aalto University, according to Phys.org.

“Thus, it may be possible that a natural ball lighting could arise in a normal lightning strike.”

Little is known about ball lightning, which is a rare phenomenon that refers to the formation of a colorful glowing orb that skitters through the air, according to LiveScience.com.

While physical evidence is rare, there have been reported observations of ball lightning, but now scientists are a step closer to understanding it.

This discovery may also be useful when it comes to next-generation computing, Engadget said.

Skyrmions could be ideal for quantum machines, which require a coherent state despite the outside environment.

These particles can be deformed without losing their properties and are able to function outside of ideal conditions.

Möttönen said that further study was still needed, however, the findings were positive.

"More research is needed to know whether or not it is also possible to create a real ball lightning with a method of this kind," he said, according to Phys.org. "Further studies could lead to finding a solution to keep plasma together efficiently and enable more stable fusion reactors than we have now."

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A ball lighting-like particle created by researchers may help shed light on the mysterious bright spheres of light that occur during thunderstorms.
ball lightning, particle, study, research
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2018-01-07
Wednesday, 07 March 2018 01:01 PM
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