The Physics Factbook™
Edited by Glenn Elert -- Written by his students
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|Bibliographic Entry||Result |
|Cutnell, John D. & Kenneth W. Johnson. Physics. 3rd ed. New York: Wiley, 1995: 608.||"Consider for example, a lightning bolt in which 25 C of charge moves through a potential difference of 1.2 × 108 V"||120 MV|
|Lide, David R. Handbook of Chemistry and Physics.New York: CRC Press. 1996-1997: 14-33.||"The electric potential … with respect to the ground has a magnitude in excess of 107 V"||10 MV|
|Adams, Charles K. Nature's Electricity. Pennsylvania: Tab Books, 1987: 132.||"the difference … becomes great enough to overcome the resistance of the insulating air … the voltage in these cases can be as much as 100 million volts."||100 MV|
Lightning is formed form a buildup of charge in the atmosphere.It build up charge from the static from water droplets. This causesa charged cloud. This charged cloud induces an oppositely chargedsurface on the earth. Ions between these two sources flow throughthe air and form a "path"in the air. This path is lowerin resistance than the surrounding air and charge flows throughthis channel, creating lightning.
Electricity is the flow of charge. The current is the amountof charge that flows through a cross-sectional area in one second.Voltage is the work done per charge. The voltage of lightningvaries with certain altitudes and thickness of the bolt. Thesefluctuating values are caused by the fact that the cloud and earthact as capacitors. A capacitor is a device used to store charge.When the spacing between them increases, the voltage needed toproduce lightning increases. Benjamin Franklin's experiment duringa thunderstorm helped to reveal that lightning is electricityand that the charges can be conducted to the ground without causingmuch damage using a lightning rod.
It seems from these values that the most definitive answeris from 10 to 120 million volts.
Mathieu Lo -- 1998
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