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Scientists have found the earliest description of ball lightning

Added Thu, 27/01/2022
Дата публикации
Thu, 27/01/2022

The oldest description of ball lightning in England and one of the earliest in the world was discovered in the writings of a monk by researchers from Durham University. They told more about this in an article in the Weather magazine.

The Benedictine monk Gervase of Canterbury kept records mainly of the events at Christchurch Monastery and the actions of the king and the nobility, but also often described natural phenomena. In his manuscript "Chronicle of the reign of Stephen, Henry II and Richard I in England," Gervase wrote that on June 7, 1195, "a miraculous sign descended near London." According to him, a dark dense cloud appeared, from which a white substance appeared, which acquired a spherical shape and descended to the river like a fireball.

"Ball lightning is a rare weather phenomenon that has not yet been studied," says physics professor Brian Tanner. "The description of Gervasius of a white substance emerging from a dark cloud, falling in the form of a rotating fiery sphere, and then moving horizontally, is very similar to historical and modern descriptions of ball lightning."

Until now, the earliest report of ball lightning in England dated back to 1638 — then, according to eyewitnesses, it appeared during a thunderstorm in the church of the village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Devon county.

The researchers also studied other records of Gervasius, for example, about eclipses, to make sure that his descriptions are sufficiently reliable.

Ball lightning, according to eyewitnesses, usually has a diameter of about 25 cm, exists for a long time and moves along an unpredictable trajectory. Despite a considerable number of reports of observations, there is still no unambiguous explanation of what it is and how it is formed — some theories generally explain what they saw with mass hallucinations. It has not yet been possible to develop an installation capable of reproducing ball lightning in laboratory conditions.

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