Think About It Thursday: What Does Thunder Look Like?

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This weeks Think About It Thursday we will discover what thunder, not lightning, actually looks like!! 

In a recent article published by USA Today, scientists reveal that they have actually “seen” thunder. “We all know what lightning looks like, and all hear the thunder that comes out from the lightning strike,” said Maher Dayeh, a research scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. These first images of thunder allow us to see what we hear, he said. “While we understand the general mechanics of thunder generation, it’s not particularly clear which physical processes of the lightning discharge contribute to the thunder we hear,”  Dayeh said.

Since thunder and lightning are unpredictable, Dayeh and his team artificially triggered lightning strikes at an outdoor laboratory in central Florida last summer. Scientists fired off a small rocket into the thunderclouds. Like fish biting a baited hook, lightning was attracted to a copper wire attached to the rocket.

Dayeh put out a sophisticated array of 15 microphones to study the thunder. The microphones were lined up 103 yards from the rocket launch pad where the triggered lightning hit.

It turned out that the loudest thunder was near the ground, not up in the clouds. “That’s where the lightning channel is attaching into the ground,” Dayeh said.

To check out the rocket experiment watch this video below: