Monthly Archives: December 2008

Love at First Sight & Lightning

It’s another snowy day in New Jersey. Since I’m trapped in my house, I decided to get comfy with a blanket and my current read Love Warps the Mind A Little by John Dufresne.

I like books that allow you to lose yourself in them while encouraging emotions and thoughts. Love Warps the Mind A Little does just that.clip-art-valentine-heart-broken1

Similarly to a previous post, I’d like to post a quotation from the novel that juxtaposes lightning to love at first sight.

Dufresne writes,

“It’s [Love at first sight’s] the obliterating focus on the beloved and the eloquent shortness of breath. It’s a stroke of lightning, as the French say, a blast of passion.”

How does love at first sight and lightning correlate?

In the French language, love at first sight (le coup de foudre) translates as stroke of lightning in English.

Originally coup de foudre was used to mean any unexpected event similarly to the English saying out of the blue or the expression lightning never strikes twice referring to something that is generally considered improbable.

It’s quite interesting when you think about it.

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Do Cell Phones Add to the Risk?

Cell phones. These days it seems that everyone has one and usually they are glued to individuals ears as they walk place-to-place, drive in their cars, or sit in a quiet movie theater (yes, I’ve witnessed this more than once!).

Cell phones are an important aspect of life. They provide interaction among individuals and today, they are equipped with Internet access and numerous applications and games.

Do cell phones add to the risk of getting struck?

According to three authors from Northwick Park Hospital in Middlesex, England, the human skin has a high resistance and when lightning strikes, it is conducted over the skin rather than entering the body. This is known as “flash-over.”

When conductors like cell phones; however, are present – the “flash-over” is disrupted and the result is internal injury with greater death rates.

Morale of the story – don’t go outside when lightning is present with or without your cell phone.

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With A Flash Of Light

With a flash of light, this semester at Rowan University has come to an end. With winter break on the horizon followed by my last semester before graduating in May, I have become very reflective.

In my time at Rowan, I have been introduced to many diverse elements of journalism; however, this online journalism course has been one of the most influential.

I am grateful for the opportunity to not only further grieve for the loss of my best friend, Lee Weisbrod, but also for the opportunity to educate the public on lightning, the underrated killer.

Due to the overwhelming interest in lightning detection and safety throughout Bergen County, I will be continuing my blog in order to further educate and provide information as long as it is available.

While blog posts will not continue two times a week, as per part of my class assignment, they will steadily continue – so continue checking back for the newest information regarding lightning in the Bergen County area.

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Warning Signs Before Getting Struck

I’m currently reading a book entitled Love Warps The Mind A Little by John Dufresne. While the book is an original love story, it referenced lightning – which caught me off guard and sparked my interest.

The book reads, “I read somewhere that you get a warning before you’re hit by lightning. Your hair feels like it’s standing on edge and your skin tingles.”

Is this true?

According to the National Weather Service, it is.

Sometimes there are a few seconds of warning before a lightning strike. Your hair may stand on end, your skin may tingle, light metal objects may vibrate, or you may hear a crackling sound, the National Weather Service says.

I guess this author did his research.

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Schools Taking Steps to Implement Lightning Safety

Every year school districts are threatened by severe weather including lightning, which puts students and faculty in jeopardy.

Without an appropriate weather alert system, students and faculty are playing a guessing game with Mother Nature. While many Bergen County schools are equipped with lightning detectors on their campuses, not all are – which is a main concern.

Rick Thompson, Lightning Protection Coordinator of Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Florida, is an advocate of keeping students and faculty safe.

“I always wondered why someone didn’t do something and then I realized I was someone,” said Thompson, a lightning strike victim on the NWS Lightning Safety Success Stories website.

Schools have to be aware of how to react in situations where lightning is present. It is essential that schools adopt a training program.

According to Thompson, training in school settings should include:

  • Lightning safety videos produced for all ages to understand and be part of a scheduled educational cirriculum.
  • Lightning safety and CPR certification courses should be mandatory for coaches and others in charge of outdoor events/activities.
  • Educational organizations should have a certified Lightning Safety Professional to implement and maintain a lightning safety program.

Many schools across the nation are taking steps to implement lightning safety initiatives.

Loudoun County Schools in Virginia and Broward County Schools in Florida are just two school systems in the country that are taking that next step.

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The Most Popular Brands of Detection

There are many different brands and kinds of lightning detection; however, these are the most popular among this area:

  • Boltek
    These detect and track thunderstorms up to 300 miles away right from your personal computer.

    Types:

    1. Stormtracker Lightning Detector
      Lightning detector on an internal card for desktop computers.
    2. LD-250 Lightning Detector
      Detector for laptop and desktops. Also for mobile use and storm chasing.
    3. EFM-100 Atmospheric Electric Field Monitor
      Used for short-range detection and can detect conditions that come before lightning.
    4. Software Developers, Systems Integrators, and Researchers
  • Lynscan, Inc.
    This company patented the SkyScan 4000 which detects and displays lightning range data from 0 to 40 miles. It tracks storm positions and sounds an alarm while flashing a strobe light when lightning is within 8 miles. Once its all clear, an all clear signal is given to resume activities. Most Bergen County towns use this system.
  • Thor Guard
    Thor Guard uses a sensor and computer to measure and analyze the electrostatic field in the atmosphere that produces lightning, Thor Guard is different than other detection systems because it makes calculations that predict lightning rather than requiring actual lightning to give a warning. Thor Guard can predict lightning up to 25 square miles and can provide a specific reading of the risk in an immediate area.

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The History Channel: History of Lightning

The History Channel has a podcast called Just Another Day hosted by Adam Hart-Davis. This podcast aims to educate individuals on concepts or things that are taken for granted – for example, electricity, computers, and alarm clocks.

I recently caught a podcast of the UK’s show entitled Benjamin Franklin’s Lightning Conductor. This podcast focuses on how the use of a lightning conductor saves cherished buildings.

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