Ball lightning normally appears as small glowing balls in the air at low altitude. Higher up with less atmospheric pressure they have been observed to be much bigger. If a huge amount of negatively-charged natural gas, such as methane (CH4), escaped high into the atmosphere, as I understand it did at Tunguska in 1908 after an earthquake, the atmospheric pressure would be much lower. Most hydrogen in the world is produced by natural gas reforming, but this can also be done by applying large voltages as found in a lightning cloud. One week prior to the Tunguska explosion large parts of northern Europe were lit by high altitude thunderstorms, most likely fuelled by the methane gas escape at Tunguska.
If high voltages occurred in the natural gas cloud, this could produce huge numbers of hydrogen ions and possibly positrons which could form into ball lightning with much larger dimensions than in a normal lower-altitude thundercloud. This may be what happened over Tunguska. A huge ball lightning was created in a natural gas cloud high in the upper atmosphere at low atmospheric pressure, and was driven down by either the jet stream, or other thermal action, such as cold air under the cloud. It was observed to be moving slowly and exploded approximately five miles up in the atmosphere as the atmospheric pressure caused it to be compressed, causing the oppositely charged particles possibly positrons and electrons to collide with each other and explode. This type of event could happen again, on varying scales.
Imagine what could have happened over the United States, given the prevailing winds, if instead of there being a crude oil escape in the Gulf of Mexico in 2012, BP had a natural gas escape that they could not cap for six months. Bearing in mind that the natural gas at Tunguska was released quickly, in the course of a few days, there could have been explosions everywhere.
The second and slightly more complicated form, which is the most common form of the phenomenon, is sheet lightning, when lightning does not go to ground. This type of lightning occurs more commonly at high altitude, while cloud to ground lightning occurs when the thundercloud forms at low altitude or on a mountain side.
Sheet lightning is started when the upper part of the thundercloud acquires a more positive charge than the lower part of the cloud. Positively-charged hydrogen ions are lighter than all other gases and will tend to rise to the top of the cloud. When thunderheads are forming, the cloud is swirling around at high speeds due to warm vapour rising, which then cools, becomes more dense and thus falls again. This is enhanced by electrostatic attraction between the upper and lower parts of the cloud. When a sufficiently high voltage gradient is attained either by increasing charge differences or reduced distances between charged areas of the cloud, sheet lightning occurs.
Sprites appear above thunderclouds and move upwards away from the cloud, these are most likely hot ionized gas or possibly even a mixture of antimatter. This could become dangerous if it was forced into contact with an aeroplane. There are various ways in which hydrogen ions or antimatter could be trapped and accumulate in a cloud, for example by thermal convection, or by continual explosive sheet lightning. Ball lightning discharging through an aeroplane’s electrical circuits would most definitely be a bad thing. St Elmo’s fire occurs after a lightning discharge close to rigging on a sail boat. The rigging becomes momentarily covered in blue light or flames, and is associated with a strong smell of ozone. St Elmo’s fire and sprites are most likely the same thing ionized air particles.
Tesla’s final laboratory at Wardenclyffe burned down, but he was reported to be receiving more power back in his coils than he was transmitting. However, were these reports correct? Could we get free power through using very high voltage pulses and harvesting plasma before it forms into plasma feeders creating a path to ground? Tesla’s Wardenclyffe tower would have generated a lot of ionized hydrogen and oxygen from the moisture in the air. Either the positively or negatively charged ions would have attached to the tower, but not both, assuming the tower had a negative charge from the earth, the positive ions H+ would have migrated to the tower, causing a current to flow causing a current to flow from the eath to the tower. If these pulses were at the resonant or sub- harmonic frequency of water molecules in the air, this could increase the charge available. Ionization is normally done via applying DC voltages. It is obvious from the thermal decomposition of water that the decomposition of water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen is not linear. At sufficient voltage and frequency, water molecules may decompose in a chain reaction, similar to when a singer hits the resonant frequency of a crystal glass, thus breaking it. With water complete molecular breakdown dissociation is achieved at 3300K. At 2300K hardly no thermal decomposition takes place. Using Boltzmann's constant these temperatures can be given in electron-volts (eV). The conversion is 1 eV = 11,605 K, 1 eV ~ 10,000 K giving 0.2eV to 0.33eV to dissociate a water molecules.
There is a lot going on inside thunderclouds. Water, steam and ice all conduct electricity differently. The various main stages in the formation of a thunder cloud are as follows:-
1) Moist warm columns of air start rising.
2) Reduced pressure and temperature at altitude reduce the chemical reactions and rates of recombination.
3) Moving –ve ionized ice crystals form in the base of the cloud
4) Ionization of moist air is increased as it passes the moving ionized ice crystals in base of cloud, producing both +ve and –ve ions.
5) Lighter ions H+ rises higher in column of rising air.
6) Top of cloud acquires a +ve charge, which grows, accelerating ionization inside cloud.
7) Electrical break down takes place in cloud, heating the air further accelerating production of ions of hydrogen.
8) Hydrogen explosions take place producing more heat.
How are positrons created in a thundercloud?
Gamma rays are also known as beta decays which occur when antimatter and matter annihilate each other in a fusion reaction. Beta decays also occurs in isotopes when as a result of a nucleus having too many protons or too many neutrons, one of the protons or neutrons is transformed into the other. Could this also be happening in ionized ice crystals in a thundercloud? In beta plus decay, a proton decays into a neutron, a positron, and a neutrino. These particular reactions take place because conservation laws are obeyed. Electric charge conservation requires that if an electrically positively charged proton becomes a neutral neutron, a electrically positive particle or positron must also be produced. Ice particles are suspended in rising columns of ionized air and water vapour in thunderclouds. They accumulate more and more charge until electrical discharges occur between the different parts of the cloud or ground. Could the hydrogen ions also experience beta decay? Doubtful but?