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Lightning-Proof Golf Course

Wired Underground Sprinkler System
  [vote for,

Here I am assuming that those large green areas of modern golf courses are watered with undergound hardware. In this Idea we want to put down a denser mesh of piping for the green areas, and we want to use all metal pipes. At regular intervals the pipes are connected by ground-wires.

For example, at the starting end of a fairway, there is a main water-feed line that crosses the width of the fairway, underground. Then a number of pipes branch off at, say, 5-meter intervals, and follow the length of the fairway. Popup water-sprayers are spaced at 5-meter intervals, too. And there is a copper wire attached across all these sprayer-pipes, attached near the sprayers. This gives the entire green region an underground metal grid of squares. Any tendency for one region of this area to accumulate a static charge, such that lightnig will be attracted, is balanced across the entire field.

Finally, more wires are connected from the outer region of the grid, and these lead to the surrounding trees, where they climb to the upper branches and terminate as sharp-pointed lightning rods. What lightning rods do, see, is DISCHARGE any build-up into the passing breeze, thereby preventing a lightning strike, and in this case protecting the entire path between tee and hole.

Vernon, Jul 13 2005

Lightning rod history http://www.ideafind...ns/lightningrod.htm
"Ben had observed that a sharp iron needle would conduct electricity away from a charged metal sphere" (discharges into the air) [Vernon, Jul 13 2005]

How lightning works http://science.hows....com/lightning1.htm
[wagster, Jul 13 2005]

How lightning rods work http://science.hows....com/lightning9.htm
[wagster, Jul 13 2005]


       [Pa've], lightning only flows between regions of fairly high electric charge. Lightning rods work because they can prevent the accumulation of charge. If they fail, it is usually because of a break in the wiring that carries charges from the ground-area to the rod. Sometimes a rapid accumulation may defeat a lightning rod, but in this Idea there are lots and lots of lightning rods. Remember the speed of EMF through a conductor. It would take an EXTREMELY rapid buildup of charge to accumulate faster than an entire fairway of wiring could conduct it to the edges and up the lightning rods into the air.
Vernon, Jul 13 2005

       I always bone anything that improves the safety of golf - the quicker we can get the golf gene out of the pool the better.
coprocephalous, Jul 13 2005

       I thought lightning rods worked by deliberately accumulating charge, not dissipating it, and providing a preferential site for the lightning to strike.   

       I.e. make the lightning rod the tallest, most negative (IIRC it's the ground that's negative) thing in the entire area, and lightning will always hit it instead of, say, you.   

       Either way the idea still works.
5th Earth, Jul 13 2005

       Lightning rods work because they provide a much more conductive path for the lightning to take than, say, your house or the top of your head. They neither accumulate nor dissipate a static charge, just as the wiring in your home doesn't.
Detly, Jul 13 2005

       //Between this idea and a 1-iron held aloft you should be perfectly safe.// Lee Trevino? Good one, UnaBubba.
baconbrain, Jul 13 2005

       So, let me get this straight. Golfers are protected from lightning strikes by making them walk around on top of a highly conductive earthed grid while holding metal sticks that they lift towards the sky? Surely as lightning tends towards the quickest route to earth, it would go for a raised golf club, through the golfer and into the grid/earth. What am I missing here [Vernon]?
wagster, Jul 13 2005

       Bad, bad science. As wagster points out, you are actually jeopardising the golfers, not protecting them - read up about the high death rates in South African villages perched on top of kopjes (the charcoal from the fires forming a highly effective conducting grid under the huts).   

       It would be much saner to simply plant lightning rods all over the course - no need for a grid at all (they're in the *earth*, duh).
DrCurry, Jul 13 2005

       I'm not convinced that it would protect or jeopardize the golfers. The lightning only cares about finding earth - why an earthed grid under the earth would be any more or less attractive than than the earth itself is still unclear to me.   

       //Lightning rods work because they can prevent the accumulation of charge.// - Do they? I have obviously misunderstood how they work.   

       EDIT - No I haven't. (link)
wagster, Jul 13 2005

       Build the golf course indoors. That would remove the need for Golf umbrellas too...
Minimal, Jul 13 2005

       [wagster], yes, you and others HAVE been not understanding how a lightning rod works. "Surely lightning would go toward a raised golf club", you wrote, but this is true ONLY IF the earth under the golfer is accumulating a static charge. Since metal conducts so well, any accumulation that contacts metal is immediately going to spread through that metal, and so cannot further accumulate without charging all the metal, and all that it contacts, at the same time. Well, the pointy end of a lightning rod DOES allow a charge to "leak" out of the metal into the air. The rate at which it can leak depends mostly on the number of points, and in this Idea I have described lots of them in the trees, all at much higher altitude than the golfers, and all conducting any static buildup from the golfers, into the air. From your second link: "the tall rod can begin sending up positive streamers in an attempt to dissipate the electric field" Yes, a lightning bolt may hit a lightning rod, anyway, but then the bolt gets spread far and wide through the grid, and the point occupied by a golfer (who isn't standing directly on metal) only receives a small fraction of the total. Not hardly deadly, that.   

       [DrCurry], a kopje (hillock) can accumulate a charge that attracts lightning simply because it DOESN"T have any pointy conductor-ends (to say nothing of many of them) leaking charge into the air.
Vernon, Jul 13 2005


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