Saturday, February 18, 2006

Sprites, Jets, Elves, and Fireballs

This story has been making the rounds lately. 'Sprites' were first reported in the 19th century, and in the 1950's pilots spotted what seemed to be plumes of flame over thunderstorms. High-speed photography has captured the phenomenon in clearer detail than ever before, but it's been widely observed before. They were abundantly observed above Hurricane Georges.
Now, if 7,000 frames per second doesn't seem like 'high speed' to you, perhaps this will be more impressive. Below are the early microseconds of an atomic detonation. Note the plasma streaming down the test tower's guide wires. The shutter speed here equals 1/100,000,000 of a second.


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