Ball Lightning and the Most Amazing Theories of Its Appearance

Ball Lightning: What Are the Theories Explaining It?

Ball lightning is a completely mysterious phenomenon of our world, which still does not have a definite answer. Scientists agree that it is a clot of energy, but the most desperate theories even suggest that this is an alien intelligence probe or a guest from a parallel world.

The First Study

The first person who took seriously the testimony of eyewitnesses about ball lightning was a French physicist and naturalist Dominique François Argo. In his work, he described 30 cases of observation of this rare natural phenomenon. This work was in many ways revolutionary.

Previously, no one scientist of that time took the stories about ball lightning seriously. Even William Thomson (better known as Lord Kelvin) to the end of his life was convinced that the observed phenomenon was not connected with electricity, but it was just an optical illusion.

Kapitsa’s Theory

Currently, there are a dozen theories of the origin of ball lightning in nature. One of the first assumptions of the birth of this phenomenon was suggested by physicist Peter Kapitsa. According to his theory, which was named in his honor, ball lightning arises on the axis of an electromagnetic wave, which is formed during a thunderstorm between the ground and thunderclouds. In this case, ball lightning moves along the power lines of the wave, and the wave itself energizes the lightning, prolonging its “life”.


It’s Just Phosphenes

There is also a very interesting theory that tries to prove that the visible ball is just a visual image created by the human brain. According to this theory, the magnetic fields of ordinary lightning affect the optic nerves of the cerebral cortex, causing the so-called phosphenes.

Phosphenes are visual sensations that can appear even in complete darkness. It seems to a person that he sees luminous points or balls, but in reality, they do not exist, it is simply a reaction of the brain to the magnetic field. This theory explains why several people can see a nonexistent fireball – they all experience the effects of a magnetic field. However, this does not explain why ball lightning appears in photos.

Breakthrough of Chinese Scientists

In 2012, Chinese scientists filmed linear lightning on a spectrograph and high-speed camera and recorded some globular phenomenon that appeared at the time of the impact of conventional linear lightning in the ground. This is a very important testimony. Their results were published in the most prestigious journal on physics – Physical Review Letters and the editors left the term “ball lightning” in the title, which indicates that the possibility of the existence of this phenomenon is recognized by serious physicists.



The nature of fireball poses a serious challenge to scientists. Today, scientists have already heard so much evidence of the existence of ball lightning, that it is impossible to dismiss them. It is possible that ball lightning is not just a phenomenon, but a complex combination of known physical phenomena, which we cannot yet trace and decipher in full.

But in order to be prepared for weather changes and the probability of unusual phenomena occurrence, we kindly advise keeping weather API on your websites to help your users stay updated!


Tags: Ball lightning, physics, optics, theories, phenomenon, mystery, science, testimonials


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