Ball lightning has always been one of the greatest mysteries of mankind. Since the times of the early Greeks, there have been reports of these strange balls of fire. The title "ball lightning" may actually be a misnomer; maybe it is not a form of lightning, but something else entirely. What makes the concept of ball lightning so confusing is that so many of its attributes seemingly defy the laws of nature. Does this bizarre phenomenon in fact exist? More people than ever are beginning to believe in these unearthly balls. This paper will examine both the characteristics of ball lightning and any prevalent theories concerning it. The first matter to be settled is the controversy over whether ball lightning is worthy of scientific consideration, or if it is something to be left to the "quacks."
Although a great number of people are beginning to believe, many people are still skeptical of the very existence of ball lightning. They argue that there is not enough scientific evidence nor sufficient recorded eyewitness accounts to prove ball lightning is a real phenomenon; however, it would seem that these arguments must be left to the uninformed. One needs only to log onto the Internet and use the keywords "ball lightning" to find numerous eyewitness accounts, many from highly respected scientists or researchers. In fact, according to a study completed in the 1960s, approximately five percent of the world's population claims to have observed ball lightning at one time or another. This may seem a small fraction until you consider that it is equivalent to the percentage of the population that has been close enough to a normal lightning strike to see its point of impact.
This information having been
provided, there can be no doubt that some sort of phenomenon exists that is
commonly referred to as "ball lightning." Naturally, there is an
infinitesimal number of theories regarding the cause and composition of ball
lightning. Yet, these can not be considered until one has a working knowledge of
the basic characteristics of ball lightning.