Lightning Conductors


IN a paper on lightning conductors, communicated by us to the Journal of the Society of Telegraph Engineers, we gave at full length our reasons for believing that the wire cage first suggested some years ago, and recently proposed by Prof. Clerk Maxwell, as a protection against lightning, would not act as a complete protection, since, although there is no resultant force inside a closed conductor due to exterior statical electrification, experiment shows the existence of such a force when electric currents are passing either near or through a closed conductor. The recent case of deaths by lightning in a mine, communicated to the Asiatic Society of Bengal, on April 4 of this year, by J. J. Whitty, Esq., superintendent of the Kurhurbari Collieries, Giridhi, India, appears to add experimental proof to the reasoning advanced in our paper. Mr. Whitty says:—“The mine is a shallow one, worked by levels driven on the side of a flattopped hill, only twenty feet from the surface, which is, therefore, the thickness of rock above the coal-seam. The working-face where the accident occurred is about 130 feet from the opening. There were a number of miners in the drift at the time. Those near the entrance were unaffected. The two who were killed (a man and a woman) were at the working-face in adjoining galleries, separated by about twelve feet of coal. A young sál tree, standing as nearly as possible over the position of the accident, was slightly damaged, and in the ground at its base a hole, about one inch in diameter, seemed to have been formed by lightning. The little hill, or plateau, in which the mine is situated is one of a small irregular group in the centre of the coal field, about 200 feet high. It is formed of the coal-measure sandstone. The drainage is thorough, and the mine was quite dry. From the presence of the workmen the sides of the gallery and the air in it were probably damper than the rock. The tree or other vegetation on the hill is scanty. On the day of the accident 0.96 inches of rain fell.”

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PERRY, J., AYRTON, W. Lightning Conductors. Nature 16, 502 (1877).

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