TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

What is lightening and what is thunder, how does it work

My general understanding of lightening is that of electricity but I get the feeling there is more to it than meets the eye.

My father is approaching ninety years old and I have notice in the recent past that he calls me sometimes when there are storms and he was never afraid of anything in his lifetime not that he showed it so now that he is calling me I am humbled by this fear.

So I went on youtube and did a search of science documentaries and there were references to space debris causing lightening by way of friction I think that's what I understood. Initially the understanding was water drops causing friction with ice until there was more study to discover space debris.

Can anyone elaborate ?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Feb 2 2013: Hi Isabelle,

    regular space debris orbits around earth way beyond the Troposphere in which our 'weather' usually forms and the only reference I could find for it in relation to lightening was the rare phenomenon of 'ball lightening', to which some scientists made a connection for its explanation.

    If your understanding of space debris would be that of 'made by mankind', I am quite certain that there is no significant change by it since we entered the space age and for 'natural debris' we have no signs for it to have been risen ever since.

    Every year around the 12th. of August, the earth passes through a dust trail of a comet who once passed through the solar system, and this event is known as the 'Perseid meteor shower'. So if space debris would have any influence on the creation of thunderstorms, our weather would not have any other choice but to 'thunderstorm' while the meteor shower was bombarding the atmosphere, yet there is no connection in between them.

    Approximately 40 metric tons of matter of dust particles and micro meteorites falls onto earth from space every day, so small and 'lightweight' that we take no notice of them, not even visually in form of 'falling stars'. And the only influence I could picture those particles have, would be to help the nucleation of ice-crystals for the formation of snow-flakes, just like 'regular' dust does, which originated from earth itself. As I am no meteorologist, those specialists probably know better, yet I can not picture this 'debris' to cause or influence the physics of thunderstorms as we know it.

    I think the sense of 'fear' is no constant throughout our lives, and newly gained fear without an traumatic incident as its cause, may just indicate that ones general mind is not in 'balance', and therefore worth to be 'investigated' and 'calmed' wherever possible. Have you ever directly asked your father about the reason for his new behavior?
    • Feb 2 2013: Oh I pretend I don't know because he was so strong and if I ask he might quit calling when there is a storm. I rather he find comfort in calling me than to sit alone to proud to call anyone :)
      • thumb
        Feb 3 2013: I guess you are right and I understand your motive. And you have a good weather status this way about the region your father lives in... :o)

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.