Lightning (weather)

Article

October 19, 2021

Lightning or atmospheric electrical discharge (AED) is a high-intensity electrical discharge that occurs in the atmosphere, between electrically charged regions, and can occur either inside a cloud (intrancloud) or between clouds (interclouds) or between a cloud and the earth (cloud-soil). Lightning is always accompanied by lightning (intense emission of electromagnetic radiation, which has components in the visible range of the spectrum), and thunder (roaring sound), in addition to other associated phenomena. Although intracloud and intercloud discharges are more frequent, cloud-to-ground discharges are of more practical interest to humans. Most of the lightning strikes in the tropical zone of the planet and mainly over the immersed lands, associated with convective phenomena which, when electrical activity is intense, result in thunderstorms. Some scientific theories consider that these electrical discharges may have been fundamental in the emergence of life, as well as helping to maintain it. In human history, lightning may have been the first source of fire, fundamental to technical development. In this way, the rays aroused fascination, being incorporated in countless legends and myths representing the power of the gods. Later scientific research revealed their electrical nature and since then the discharges have been constantly monitored for their association with storm systems. Due to the high intensity of the associated electrical voltages and currents, lightning is always dangerous. Thus, buildings in general, as well as energy transmission systems, need protection systems, which include lightning rods. However, even with shields (which are not always designed or constructed correctly), lightning still causes death and injury around the world. As high-energy phenomena, lightning usually manifests itself as an extremely luminous path that travels long distances, sometimes with branches. However, there are exotic forms, such as the globular ray, whose nature is unknown, and there are only reports of this phenomenon. The large variation in the electric field of discharges in the troposphere can give rise to transient light events in the upper atmosphere. Lightning also originates in other events such as volcanic eruptions, nuclear explosions and sandstorms. Artificial methods are also used to create atmospheric discharges for scientific purposes. Rays also occur on other planets in the Solar System, especially Jupiter and Saturn.

Historical relationships

It is likely that the rays were present on Earth long before the first living things appeared, more than three billion years ago. Furthermore, rays were probably fundamental to the formation of the first organic molecules, essential for the emergence of the first forms of life. Since the beginning of written history, lightning has been a source of fascination for human beings. The fire they produced when they reached the ground was used to keep them warm at night, in addition to keeping wild animals at bay. Therefore, primitive man looked for answers to explain this incredible phenomenon, creating superstitions and myths that were incorporated into the first religions.

Biological importance

From the formation of the Earth, the high temperatures of the crust were responsible for large and permanent storms that remained furious, giving rise to the oceans. Water, as it ran its cycle, carried chemical elements such as carbon and nitrogen, which accumulated in primitive seas. Ultraviolet rays and rays were possibly essential in the combination of these inorganic compounds and their transformation into amino acids, essential components for the emergence of life as we know it. Electrical discharges are the main source of nitrites and

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