Ball lightning, a phenomenon in which a glowing orb of light persists for seconds after a lightning strike, is one of the most enduring atmospheric mysteries in science. Reported sightings date as far back as ancient Greece -- an occurrence of ball lightning is rumored to have killed 18th century scientist Georg Wilhelm Richmann -- and re-creating it synthetically has been a daunting feat, accomplished by only a few research teams after Nikola Tesla managed to first manifest spherical charges in the lab in 1904.
Since then, little progress has been made toward concrete theories that can explain the strange, near-mystical nature of ball lightning. However, a group of Chinese scientists in 2012 managed, completely by accident, to not only observe and record an instance of it in Qinghai in western China, but to measure the contents of the orb with spectrographs. It marks the first time ever the phenomenon has ever been captured in nature.… Read more