On Friday the 10th of February, I attended the Physics Colloquium that covered Lightning: Physics and Protection Systems, and was given by Dr. Marvin E Morris. The talk began by discussing the process through which lightning is generated, with regard to the step ladder process and its nonlinear nature. From there the speaker went on to detail the great number of structures and vehicles that are at risk of damage and destruction from lightning. One of the most riveting images depicted a plane being struck by lightning. During the talk I took a photo of the projector image with my Asus TF201 and bellow is a higher quality version of the photo I found online. It is interesting to note that the plane was unharmed by the strike.
This naturally led to the discussion of different manners through which structures can be protected from lightning. There were tests to determine the viability of utilizing Faraday cages to protects buildings. This was successful but the feasibility of enclosing all such at risk structures in such cages is doubtful. If you want to construct your own, however, you can learn to do so here.
The awesome part of the talk involved the use of rockets to create lightning in order to test the Faraday cages. Several riveting images and videos were displayed and the one below I found on the web.
Lastly, the lecturer discussed the surprising risk that mines face from lightning strikes. He detailed that both far reaching underground electric fields and electricity directly conducted from the surface to the mine through metal can cause much destruction, as was evident in the disaster at the Sage Mine.
This lecture was enhanced through the live tweeting of the colloquium by the students in the Junior Physics Lab. I was skeptical at first when were told that we would be utilizing Twitter, as I had always viewed it as another useless form of social media that celebrities and athletes used to flood the internet with their inane thoughts. After this experience my views have been greatly altered. I see how the live tweeting stimulated discussion and allowed all of to record the parts of the talk that struck us as important and also let us ask questions and receive clarification on subjects we may have been confused by. It did take some time to get acclimated to paying attention to both the lecture and the tweets of the other students. It helped that I was able to dedicate my tablet to keeping me updated on the information being posted by the students, while I used my cell phone to post my own tweets. It is very clear that Twitter can be used in a positive way to gather and connect shared knowledge, and maybe even follow a celebrity of two.
My twitter account can be found here.