Scientists Use Weather Balloons To study Lightnings

A group of researchers conducted something of a modern-day version of Benjamin Franklin’s legendary lightning-kite experiment, only instead of tying a metal key to a kite, these scientists have weather balloons that they send into thunderclouds in order to learn more about how, when and where lightning forms.

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Credit: Doug Jordan and Martin Uman/International Center for Lightning Research and Testing.

And these scientists are perhaps a bit more averse to the potential for self-injury than Franklin, who succeeded in shocking himself once while experimenting with electricity in his home laboratory, according to The Franklin Institute. Today’s researchers know a bit more about the dangers of lightning, which is one of the reasons they want to know more about it.

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Researchers launch a weather balloon during a thunderstorm on a golf course a few miles east of Starke, Fla., as part of an effort to better understand what causes lightning to form.
Credit: Doug Kennedy/National Severe Storms Laboratory

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