Monthly Archives: December 2009

Lightning Gives Off Light

Shame on me. It’s been a long time since I have updated my blog. Due to the summer months being over and the winter months rolling in, I seem to have lost some of my inspiration. However, the funny thing about inspiration is that it can spark from the oddest of things.

The other day I was substitute teaching in a kindergarten classroom. The students were all sitting Indian-style on an ABC carpet listening to the teacher read a book entitled, Where Does Light Come From?. To my surprise, lightning was mentioned – which in turn made me think just how much light does lightning give off?

According to The National Severe Storm Laboratory, lightning can have 100 million to 1 billion volts and contain billions of watts.

Even more interesting is that lightning gives off other radiation besides light – namely, X-rays. The production of X-rays was predicted in the 1920s; however, it wasn’t until recently (in the 2000s) that researchers confirmed these predictions. Researchers at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology detected X-ray emissions from an induced lightning strike along a wire trailed behind a rocket shot into a storm cloud.

This finding sparked many more studies regarding X-ray emissions from lightning. The University of Florida and Florida Tech used X-ray detectors to confirm that natural lightning does indeed make X-rays in large quantities. The findings are fairly new, therefore, the cause of X-ray emissions is still being researched.


Leave a comment

Filed under Science