Lightning Rods: Battling Zeus

By Emma Wittmann

What Are They?

Benjamin Franklin tied a key to a kite in a storm and the key was struck by lightning and thus, the idea of capturing lightning was born. However, lightning rods do not attract, but rather offer lightning a safe passage to the ground. They consist of a metal sphere or point connected to the talled part of a building and to the ground and of a copper wire attaching the metal ball or point to the ground.
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How They Work

As mentioned before, lightning rods offer a safe passage for lightning to the ground. This helps prevent lightning from striking buildings, people, or other things that could be struck. Lightning is like rubbing your socks on a carpet and touching a doorknob, but only BIGGER! There is a build up of electrons, or negative particles, in the clouds and they are trying to get to the ground the fastest way, which would be through the tallest objects connected to the ground. This is why lightning rods are attached to the tallest part of a building. Additionally, the metal ball or point at the top is positively charged, which means there are more protons than electrons. Being that the clouds are negatively charged, the lightning will be attracted to the lightning rod. The copper wire will then direct the lightning into the ground where it can be neutralized which is the ultimate goal of the lightning.


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