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Lightning rod bleedoff

Find out how much they owe, and make them pay!
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Recently I was in a tall building during a lightning storm. I could see bolts striking the buildings around me. Periodically the picture on my monitor would waver, which I imagine was the magnetic field generated by lightning bolts striking my building and streaking down to ground. My eyes narrowed as I pictured the hardworking electrons in my screen getting chumpslapped by that layabout bastard lightning. The lightning generates enough current that I can see the magnetic field on the screen. I bet there are lesser currents zooming past unnoticed all the time.

But how to get work out of that? Lightning rods work because they are attractive to lightning - no resistance and no work to be done. As soon as you plug in your hydrogen generator the lightning sees there is work down that path, so it chuckles merrily and hits your huge white oak instead.

But I wonder if, once a path of sorts has been ionized thru the air to the lightning rod, that path can subsequently be made slightly less attractive and still keep the lightning flowing. A switch which on detecting current brings a machine into the circuit. Alternately, offer a small side path - a branch point along the cable grounding the lightning rod which allows a fraction of the current to move through something which does work. Mass action (does that apply for electricity?) would suggest a small fraction of the current will flow thru the path even as the main low resistance path keeps your building from exploding.

I like lakes of molten tungsten as much as the next guy, but this is not world domination caliber mad science I am proposing. Yet. I want some flashing LEDs, maybe a chip that plays a few bars of "Ride the Lightning". Just enough work to let that lazy Zeus juice know that we have its number, and one of these days it is going to get yoked to the plow like the rest of us.

bungston, May 17 2014

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       the simple answer is no. The more complicated answer is that while the lighting may be using the lightning rod it is not OBLIGED to use the lightning rod, and thus may use any part portion or fraction of it that it chooses, while the need to ionize the air gap might have been a major inhibitor, the jump hence to the skin of the building, or other suitable conductive surface is always an option open to the lightning. The lightning will "lightning" around your resistor, or it will not follow the path at all. If it were not so then it would vaporize everything it struck, including your skyscraper.
WcW, May 17 2014
  
      
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