What is ball lightning?

Ball lightning is a widely debated and controversial atmospheric phenomenon that accompanies electrical storms, it is extremely rare and poorly understood.

It manifests as a glowing spherical object which can vary from pea-sized to several meters in diameter that is sometimes associated with thunderstorms.

Ball lightning hovers in the air somewhere between a few seconds and a couple minutes, on average around 25 seconds, which is considerably longer than the split-second flash of a lightning bolt, then it disappears either silently or with a loud bang.

Laboratory experiments have produced effects that are visually similar to reports of ball lightning, but it is presently unknown whether these are actually related to any naturally occurring phenomenon.

Scientific data on natural ball lightning are scarce due to its infrequency and unpredictability of it occurrence.

The presumption of its existence is based on reported public sightings, and has therefore produced somewhat inconsistent findings.

Given inconsistencies and the lack of reliable data, the true nature of ball lightning is still unknown.

Until recently, ball lightning was often regarded as a fantasy or a hoax, but some serious scientific discussions and theories have been attempted to explain it.

Some scientists have studied ball lightning for upwards of 20 years and are still uncertain that it actually exists.

The phenomenon of ball lightning is so infrequent that not a single scientifically confirmed video of it even exists, though most scientists accept its existence because reports of it extend all the way back to Ancient Greece.

Also supportive is that a majority of the reports that we do have tell a rather consistent tale, instead of being all over the place as we would expect if ball lightning were merely a misidentification of more common atmospheric phenomena.

When details vary too widely from the most common reports, it is likely a misidentification, wishful thinking, or fraud. It is plausible that so-called ball lightning is merely an positive afterimage left on the eye in the wake of a lightning flash.

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