Lightning and Spark Phenomena

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THE study of lightning has been allied to the study of the electrical spark discharge since the dawn of experimental science. Benjamin Franklin, the 'father of lightning', performed with electricity drawn from thunderclouds the same experiments that could be performed with electricity generated by a frictional machine. Hoffert demonstrated the multiple character of the flash by photography in 1889, and a few years later Walter showed that the electric spark could have a similar characteristic if the circuit constants were suitably chosen. In later years Schon-land's extensive researches in South Africa, with the aid of the high-speed rotating camera, have greatly extended our knowledge of the lightning flash, and similar physical characteristics to those he has described have been found in the high-voltage spark discharge. Knowledge of both phenomena is, however, far from complete ; but as lightning occurs so infrequently in Britain under conditions suitable for observation, it is perhaps more profitable in this country to contribute to the understanding of lightning by the indirect method of studying spark phenomena.

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ALLIBONE, T. Lightning and Spark Phenomena. Nature 163, 708–710 (1949) doi:10.1038/163708a0

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