A so-called Thunderbolt

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DURING a short storm in Liverpool this summer, I noticed one flash as peculiarly sharp and noisy, and subsequently in the correct bearing from my house the ground was reported as having been struck by a thunderbolt. I examined the place, which was on the greensward of a lake, where the ground was penetrated by a number of fairly clean-cut almost vertical holes down which a walking-stick could be thrust. People sheltering near the lake reported a ball of fire and a great splash up of the water. The odd circumstance about the damage was that it occurred on a simple grass slope, about half way between a tall boat-house on the one side and a drinking fountain standing on more elevated ground on the other. Small trees also were in the neighbourhood, and there was no apparent cause why the flash should have selected this particular spot; though indeed it was not within any of the ordinarily accepted “areas of protection.” A gentleman—Mr. Hewitt—proposed digging for the meteor, and although fairly convinced that it was nothing but an ordinary flash, we thought it just possible that an accidental meteorite might have fallen during the thunderstorm; in which event a flash down the rarefied air of its trail would be a natural consequence. It may be just possible that the popular belief in thunderbolts has some such foundation.

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HEWITT, G. A so-called Thunderbolt. Nature 46, 513–514 (1892) doi:10.1038/046513c0

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