Cumberland Times-News

June 23, 2013

Zeus sent them down, but nature sends them upward

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

— This is my first ever letter to an editor. It is not a complaint but concerns that marvelous photograph of the lightning bolt and the caption beginning; “Lightning emerges from a cloud ... .” (June 14 Times-News, Page 1A)

It is because lightning does not go down, it goes up. The photo provides a nifty proof: the spreading out of the bolt at the tree. If the bolt came down, why would it spread out on a tree?

Since lightning does go up the tree, the electrons have a choice of paths, limbs for some, but most use the trunk, accounting for a major stream and a number of minor ones. Clouds provide the positive charge: an accumulation of hydrogen ions, produced as winds roil the H2O.

Back when Jupiter (aka Zeus) was hurling the lightning bolts they had to come down.

Then Benjamin Franklin was able to demonstrate, by his kite and key experiments, that a spark he could produce by rubbing a glass rod, was the same thing as lightning, differing only in intensity, Think what Ben Franklin would have thought had he seen such a photograph.

Anne Buzzell