B2 Information Report

Danger From The Skies

Nothing quite lights up the sky like flashes of lightning on a stormy day. Watching this spectacle play out outside your window as you sit safely in the comfort of your dry, weather-insulated home is an experience money cannot buy.
Accompanied by the orchestral crash-boom-bang of thunder, this spectacular performance will leave you in wonder of the raw beauty of nature.

As little children, we would immediately cower at the very whisper of distant thunderclaps. However, as we grow older, we get used to it and start thinking that thunder and lightning are nothing to be afraid of. Big mistake!

During storms, negative-charged electrons move to the bottom of storm clouds. The difference between this negative charge and the positive charge on the ground eventually becomes so great that a short-circuit occurs between the atmosphere and the ground to neutralise the charge difference.

This creates the loud thunder clap that you hear and the bright plasma trail that you see in the sky. It lasts for just a few seconds but in this short time it can conduct up to 300 kilovolts of electricity. This is so much that it can heat the air around the bolt up to five times the temperature of the sun!

Human vs. Lightning

The human body is a great conductor of electricity. This is a curse and a blessing at the same time.

The atoms in our body carry electrons along neural pathways to send signals to different body parts. This is an extremely efficient way to maintain basic bodily functions like keeping our hearts beating regularly or quickly pulling away from a hot
object.

On the other hand, it also makes the human body extremely attractive to lightning! The efficiency of a human body in conducting electricity means that a lightning bolt will course through a human body in a mere 3 milliseconds.

These 3 milliseconds have resulted in lightning survival rates that are surprisingly high. Generally, only one in ten people who are struck by lightning do not live to tell their tale. However, those who do survive rarely walk away unscathed.

 

 

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insulate (v)– a building, room, or structure being protected from the elements by some material
cower (v)– crouch down in fear
short-circuit (n)– an unplanned electrical connection
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