Inquiring Minds

Questions About Physics

Lightning as an accelerator, Part 2.

Dear Mr. Foster
My name is Ryan Allen McCormac and while doing research on a school project, I happend to see your Q&A sight (I was very impressed by the ten year old with the new accelerator idea!). I wanted to inform you though that there has actually been research done in using lightning as a voltage source.

"These experiments were conducted in 1932 by Brasch and Lange. For there experiment they stretched an insulated cable across a valley between two peaks in the Alps; from this cable a conducting cable supporting a terminal was suspended. During thunderstorms high potentials would develop between this terminal and a grounded terminal on the valley floor; sparks several hundred feet long were obtained. Plans had been made to install a discharge tube for the acceleration of particles, but experiments were abandoned when Lange was killed." (Livingston and Blewett, Particle Accelerators, p.22)

Back to Questions About Physics Main Page

last modified 10/31/1998