Using Lasers to Direct Lightning Strikes

For the first time ever, scientists have redirected the path of lightning bolts with lasers. During a demonstration atop Switzerland’s Säntis mountain, researchers fired rapid laser pulses at thunderclouds for more than six hours and observed lasers diverting four different lightning strikes. One was filmed in clear enough conditions to demonstrate how the bolt steered the path of the laser for around 50 meters. A laser is able to influence lightning because it ionizes air molecules when it is fired into the sky. This causes them to move and heat up rapidly, forming a chain (for only a millisecond) that is more electrically conductive to give the lightning something to easily flow along. Learn more about the strategy which could be key to protecting airports, tall buildings and other locations at The Guardian.

Image courtesy of James “Bo” Insogna