Electrostatics of Lightning

Physics between Lightning Bolts


The lighting bolt starts up in the clouds. Part of the cloud is charged positively while the other part is charged negatively. Sooner or later, the changes spread out so that the bottom of the cloud is now fully negative while the top is now fully positive. If the charges distinctively separate and become very great, the charges might swap around to each side of the cloud which will eventually cause the lighting sheet or bolt to touch the ground.

Now since the negative charges were at the bottom of the cloud, it pushes down the negative charges of the ground (since opposites attract) , making the ground positive. The bolt is negatively charged so it gets attracted to the positive ground, while being repelled from the negative cloud. When the positively charged bolt repels from the ground, it gets attracted to the negatively charged bolt. Lighting occurs when both streams meet. The electrons move so fast and the air is so hot that the bright light and loud thunder gets created.

Intersting Fact

A flash of lightning is brighter than 10,000,000 100-watt light bulbs.

Additional Information

Lightning is very dangerous and has a record of killing and severely injuring many people. Each year in the united states, around 55 people are killed due to being stuck by lightning. Lightning is also referred to as a streak or bolt lightning and is known as the most beautiful display of electrostatics.

Interesting Fact

Lightning bolts travel at speeds of up to 60,000 miles per second.



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