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Lightning-Glass Art

man-made rocket-triggered lightning fulgurites.
  [vote for,

When lightning strikes sand, it converts the sand to tube-like glass structures as the lightning grounds itself (fulgurites).

The idea is to trigger lightning into striking a lightning rod grounded in a sandbox. One way to do this is either to install a tall lighting rod on a hill and wait days or months, or to use amateur rocketry.

If you fire a rocket (like a hobby rocket) connected to a filament it is likely to trigger a lighting bolt. This phenomenon is noted by the millitary when firing wire-guided rockets...sometimes there is a discharge of lightning.

So connect one end of the filament to the lightning rod and launch the hobby-rocket (the largest one you can buy) at an unsuspecting thundercloud. Up on a hill or mountain, you can get pretty darn close to the clouds already so the rocket need not go all that high.

Bang! man-made fulgurite! Dig it up carefully and display it.

One could easily load the sandbox with litterally anything and let the lightning fuse it together...colored glass blower quality sand, metal particles...whatever...the possibilities are endless. I think a lightning bolt is actually hotter than the sun--300,000 degrees or something ridiculous like that.

It's an experiment Ben Franklin would be proud of.

ShawnBob, Apr 09 2010

Using Rockets to Trigger Lightning http://www.ira.usf....ics/16.VoltTrig.pdf
[ShawnBob, Apr 09 2010]

Sweet Home Alabama + Fulgurites http://www.guardian.../0,,-189868,00.html
From 2002 [jurist, Apr 09 2010]

XKCD did it first. http://xkcd.com/260/
[MechE, Apr 09 2010]

Frozen lightning http://gadgets.boin...et/lichtenbergs.jpg
oooooo [MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 09 2010]

Fullerene Fulgurites Fullerene_20Fulgurites
[Amos Kito, Apr 10 2010]


       This is a key plot element in the 2002 film "Sweet Home Alabama" where Reese Witherspoon's love interest (Josh Lucas) makes his living by encouraging the natural production of fulgurites from beach sand with lightning rods and turning the result into art glass.
jurist, Apr 09 2010

       Someone just told me this. I MUST watch the movie now. From what I understand he didn't use rockets though...and that would be as much fun as the other part ;). Nothing like standing in a rain storm trying to get lighting to strike rockets.   

       I looked up pictures of fulgurites and they are not all that pretty. I assume that with the right materials fused together they could be. No need to even do "glass" per se. I'm thinking varous metals...perhaps something ecclectic to do with old pennies.
ShawnBob, Apr 09 2010

       One problem is surely going to be getting a model rocket big enough to carry the cable reel.   

       Still [+] for dangerous activities during thunderstorms.
coprocephalous, Apr 09 2010

       I've seen this!! Well, OK, not quite this. But I have seen people who make "lightning art". Iirc, they take a block of acrylic (or some transparent plastic; or it may have been glass) and discharge an uttermostly enormous voltage through it.   

       The result is a clear block of plastic with a beautiful, tendrilously branching medusoid pattern etched into its interior. Expensive, if I remember correctly.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 09 2010

       yay! Found it, by googling "lightning art plastic block" (see link). The method seems to involve stressing the block to initiate the discharge.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 09 2010

       //No need to even do "glass" per se// why not leave the "per se" out and do powdered glass ?
FlyingToaster, Apr 10 2010

       Or buildings? I once schemed to put a rig like this on a building, trigger it with a remote control and hope all evidence was destroyed in the ensuing fire--not that anyone would be suspecting.
baconbrain, Apr 10 2010

       sp. eclectic, unless you mean something different, possibly concerning Eccles cakes.
pertinax, Apr 12 2010


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