Letter | Published:

Forked Lightning


BY papers received by last mail I see that Mr. W. C. Gurley claims to have shown, by photographing a flash of lightning, that the ordinary notion of forked lightning must be given up. I do not know whether this conclusion has been drawn from the photograph of a single flash or not, but you will see from the inclosed photographs that the conclusion is an entirely false one. An examination of my photographs will show that all the flashes except one had the zigzag form, and that some of them are magnificently forked. They resemble very closely the photographs of sparks from a Holtz electrical machine, taken by Mr. A. Matheson in Prof. Tail's laboratory, and published in vol. xxvii. Part 3, of the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The amount of detail shown in the photograph of the tree illuminated by the flash gives one a very good idea of the brightness, when we consider that exposure cannot have exceeded the millionth part of a second. I may add that my first photograph was taken on October 16, 1883, and was circulated amongst friends immediately afterwards.

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