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Lightning Phenomenon

.. playing in, about nine years ago. All of a sudden, the sun was hidden behind the clouds and the sky turned a dark purplish color, and then it downpoured. The sky rumbled with fierce thunder and you could see a couple of lightning flashes. The tournament was at a high school, so everyone ran to the school for safety. My father was with me, and as we headed towards the school, we saw a bright flash of lightning strike a tree about a mile from us and split it in half, starting a little fire.

There were two kids from my team that were around 50 feet away from the tree and they stood there frozen in fear. My dad told me to keep going. Then, he went back and had to literally carry them to safety because they were so scared. Fortunately, no one was any closer to that tree or they would have been seriously injured or killed that day. Golfers are prime targets for lightning, because they tend to either stand in open grassy areas or huddle under trees while playing their game. Also, they use umbrellas which attract lightning to them because of the metal point on top.

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In addition, they hold metal golf clubs which increase their chances of being struck by lightning. “A scored pattern on the fifth green at Phalem Park Golf course in St. Paul Minnesota, defied ground zero when four golfers were injured, one fatally, by 7 a June 1991 strike” (Newcott 89). I guess that kind of proves that golf can be a dangerous sport, especially during a thunderstorm. In the film, Lightning, directed by Linda Gorman, a golf legend, Lee Trevino describes his experience of being hit by lightning, while playing in a tournament in 1975.

Trevino says: The sensation that I got was, I knew that something was wrong. It did not just go pow, and it was over. I felt it, and I started shaking. The next thing I knew, I started to hear a ringing sound in my ear, like a ball-peen hammer. Then all of a sudden, the next thing I know is look at my feet and now they are in the air.

Now Im off the ground.. its got me all stretched out. At the time, I guess it stops your heartbeat and Im gasping for air. The next thing I knew, is I woke up, and I was all doubled up. My left arm was under my body..

(Lightning) In listening and watching Trevino speak, I could see his confusion and uncertainty of what was happening to him. I am sure to this day, when he is golfing on the green during a thunderstorm, he becomes reminiscent of his previous experience with lightning. 8 Tall man-made structures have been known to attract lightning. According to The New Book of Popular Science, engineers in 1935 set up a device inside the Empire State Building in New York City, to find out how the building handles being struck by lightning in the experience. In the film Lightning, one source noted that this famous building is”struck more than twenty times each year” (Lightning).

The special rod at the top of the building was connected to this device by steel. This would allow a small amount of the current to safely deflect from the rod to their machines. Also photographs were taken from a small building to provide proof of this experiment. They concluded from their studies that it is possible for lightning to strike twice in the same place (142-143). “The empire state tower has been struck by lightning as many as 42 times in one year.

It was hit 12 times in a single storm, and on one memorable occasion, 9 times in 20 minutes,” (142-143) which proves their studies to be accurate. Yet, after all those strikes, there was no damage to the building. Nature itself is also affected by lightning. Lightning is a cause of forest fires, which of course, may be devastatingly destructive. According to The New Book of Popular Science: It also causes a great deal of damage as a result of heating and expansion.

When it passes through wood, for example, the 9 enormous current heats the wood and causes it to expand many many times. As a result, the wood is converted into vapor, and this adds to the general effect of expansion. (143) It is interesting that Mother Nature can create lightning, but she can also destroy a part of herself in the process. All of us must respect lightning. It is very dangerous and it kills! We do not have to be afraid of it, though.

We can protect ourselves from lightning by observing some basic lightning safety rules. According to my research, I have learned that one should keep away from conductors such as metal and water, as well as tall trees. When inside a home avoid using the telephone except for emergency. You will not see me talking with my friend during a lightning storm, not after hearing about the man getting electrocuted while talking on the phone. If outside, with no time to reach a safe building or an automobile, follow these rules given by Martin Uman: Do not stand underneath a natural lightning rod such as a tall isolated tree in an open area. Stay away from wire fences, clotheslines, metal pipes, rails, and other metallic paths which could carry lightning to you from some distance away.

If you are hopelessly isolated in a level field or prairie and you feel your hair stand on end, indicating lightning is about to strike, drop to your knees and bend forward, putting your hands 10 on your knees. Do not lie on the ground!!! (95) Lightning does not choose its victims or target. It just happens. For the many fatalities, those people were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is alright to be curious about lightning, but do not be stupid. Take the proper precautions or you may just be another statistic.

Remember you cannot predict when or where lightning will strike, but you can be aware of the possibility. It might be well, also to recall this passage from “Playing with Lightning”, written by a lightning stalker, Karl B. McEachron, quoted in The New Book of Popular Science: “If you heard the thunder, the lightning did not strike you. If you saw the lightning, it missed you; and if it did strike you, you would have known it” (144). So, in otherwords, you can not predict when or where lightning will strike, but you will definitely know it, when it strikes you. Bibliography Carr, Sean P.

“Lightning can strike twice at vulnerable gas storage areas.” The Home News & Tribune 12 June 1996, sec. B: 1. Dayton, Leigh. “Secrets of a bolt from the blue: How a lightning bolt enters the body.” New Scientist 18 Dec. 1993: 16. Lightning.

Dir. Linda Gorman. Prod. Nova. Boston Science Unit, 1995.

“Lightning.” The New Book of Popular Science. Vol. 12. 1994. Newcott, William R.

“Lightning: Natures High-Voltage Spectacle.” National Geographic July 1993: 81-103. Staff Report. “Fire rages after lightning strikes Sewaren oil storage tanks.” Asbury Park Press 16 June 1996, sec. A: 1,5. Uman, Martin A.

All About Lightning. New York: Dover Publications Inc, 1986. Warner, Bernhard. “A second fire strikes oil refinery in Linden.” Asbury Park Press 12 June 1996, sec A: 5 Wolkomir, Richard. “Electric Sky.” Omni March 1994: 50-60.


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