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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Why does lightning zigzag? | Live Science

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John Lowke(opens in new tab), a physicist at the University of South Australia and lead author of a study investigating lightning’s “stepped pattern.  

Lowke and colleagues propose that the distinctive zigzag pattern of lightning is caused by a highly conducting form of oxygen that builds up irregularly as the bolt travels toward the ground, sometimes over great distances, in their study, which was published in December 2022 in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics.  Air typically functions as an insulator, but the leaders produce areas with significant concentrations of “singlet delta oxygen,” a particular variety of highly conducting oxygen with a lower energy state. From the ordinary oxygen molecules in the atmosphere, the strong magnetic fields from the previous phase almost instantly produce extra singlet delta oxygen molecules, and concentrations of this extremely conductive oxygen can branch out in all directions. 

Source: https://www.livescience.com/why-lightning-zigzags 

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