Monday, 25 May 2009
"It is possible that the electrical forces involved may also give the tornado some portion of its destructive power on the ground. Where charges are out of balance, the electrical force dominates over the force of gravity!
Have you ever wondered why that little piece of plastic wrap clings to your hand (static [electric] cling), despite violently shaking it and despite the entire gravitational potential of the Earth resting below your feet pulling downward it? Yep, that’s how much stronger the raw electric force is with respect to gravity…
The notion of electrical forces playing a significant role in tornadoes is not especially new, just not well-known. In fact, several notables have contributed anecdotally to the theory. Their collected works may be greater on the whole than any one single contribution.
In addition to the paper above on stabilization of a high-voltage discharge, Bernard Vonnegut also penned a paper on the Electrical Theory of Tornadoes (abstract below):
"Modern theory and observations appear to support the very old and almost forgotten idea that tornadoes are a manifestation of thunderstorm electricity. It is suggested that there is sufficient electrical energy in an intense thunderstorm to power a tornado and that the electrification could cause extraordinarily intense winds by electrically heating air or by accelerating charged air in an electric field. "
The theory of “electrically heating air” has been largely discarded as a formative mechanism. Accelerating charged particles in the air, and thus the air itself through collisions of those particles with neutral particles in the air, has not been as widely studied. However, a few notable papers have been penned on the subject."