Lightning Rods & Electrostatics

Louisa Dai 9C

Lightning

Lightning occurs when the electrons in a cloud all gather towards the bottom and "jump" to the ground (which has a different charge and therefore attracts the electrons from the cloud). Lightning can be very dangerous and being struck by lightning can be fatal.

What are Lightning Rods?

Lightning rods are sharp metal poles attached to the roof of buildings in order to provide a "low-resistance path to the ground". They direct lightning strikes safely to the ground in order to direct the lightning strikes away from buildings.

How Lightning Rods Work

Lightning rods are attached to the roof of buildings so that they're closer to the cloud. This is done because lightning will take the quickest, shortest path to the earth (the path of least resistance). Lightning rods are made of excellent conductors in order to effectively conduct lightning strikes into the earth so there will be no heat damage.


Lightning is negatively charged and the lightning rod is either positively charged or neutral. These different charges will attract each other, as stated in the Laws of Electrostatic Charges. The lightning will "jump" to the rod, then travel down to the earth where the charge is grounded. This effectively neutralizes the lightning safely so that no structures are damaged and no living beings are hurt.

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