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back to article Australian boffins have a ball with lightning maths

Scientists at Australia’s CSIRO have put forward a mathematical model which they believe could help explain the origin of ball lightning. While people have observed ball lightning for centuries – at least – explaining it has been so troublesome that it’s attracted a variety of strange hypotheses – all the way to microwave …

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Mushroom

It's "Maths" as in short for Mathematics...

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Anonymous Coward

> It's "Maths" as in short for Mathematics...

and this should have been posted in "corrections" section.

But up-voted for appropriate outrage.

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It's "math", singular.

Specifically, the math specific to lightning. Language mutates. Deal with it.

(Typing as a Yank who usually splels/typoes it as "math(s)".)

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Oh how perfectly dreadful

Some McMcMcnoodle wishes to tell us that all language is equal. No it isn't. Pray discern for yourself the origin of 'Shibboleth' as it may concentrate your mind on the extreme cultural barbarity that can be associated with words. It may be in the use or pronunciation. So now you should try and do better. If general encouragement fails then seek a university that offers degree-level courses in 'math'.

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Headmaster

Re: "It's "math", singular." American usage ≠ British usage.

The term "math" is not commonly used in British English. The expression "maths" is used in the UK in either context, plural or singular. Hence "lightning maths" not "lightning math". Indeed my spell-checker (set for UK English) has just red-lined "math" as a spelling error. :P

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Re: Oh how perfectly dreadful

Oh, how perfectly pretentious.

I have a degree in Math. From Berkeley. And another from Stanford.

Again, language mutes. Get used to it. Prat.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh how perfectly pretentious

Pot, meet Kettle. Kettle, meet Pot.

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Anonymous Coward

@jake: "language mutes"

...if only yours would...

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Re: Oh how perfectly dreadful

AUSTRALIAN boffins, hence Australian usage - i.e. Maths

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's "math", singular.

"Specifically, the math specific to lightning. Language mutates. Deal with it."

Oh go and smoke a fag or something and calm down...

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Headmaster

Re: It's "math", singular.

> Language mutates. Deal with it.

Or in the US, language "degenerates".

"Math" may be used as an abbreviation for "mathematical" i.e. in an adjective sense e.g. "math. study".

However, "maths" is the proper abbreviation for "mathematics", defined as a group of related studies leading to the plural form.

Also, the word "math" is f*cking irritating. Deal with that.

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@jake Re: Oh how perfectly dreadful

Two math degrees? That must be maths then.

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Re: Oh how perfectly dreadful

Jake: it is www.theregister.co.uk

Americans do not get to dictate British spelling (yet).

Therefore, and because it's Aussie boffins: maths

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Boffin

You're all wrong...

Maths stands for Mathematical Anti-Telharsic Harfatum Septomin

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Re: It's "math", singular.

Its math in america because that's as far as most of you can count!

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Re: It's "math", singular.

steady on!

thats tantermount to inciting a hate crime

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Re: It's "math", singular.

Nice choice of that commonly used mid-atlantic word "fag".

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Re: It's "math", singular. --- jake is trolling

and he's got a long line of you strung up, wiggling wetly. You lot don't learn.

I detest 'math' but anyone who can speak english[*] owns it as much as I do, a native speaker, and that's the strength of it and that's how I like it.

There are bigger things of course but some people's minds take very, very small steps, and ever will.

[*] deliberately uncapitalised so your head bursts. A very small pop it shall be too.

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Re: It's "math", singular.

Uhh, jake?

You can't mandate correct usage _and_ say "language mutates" in the same post. Language mutates... Therefore dictionaries and such are _descriptive_, not _proscriptive_. Or you can tell us what the "proper" usage is and pretend nobody else is supposed to use it any different from you. You don't get to have your cake and tell us how to spell it too.

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@frank ly (was: Re: @jake Oh how perfectly dreadful)

"Two math degrees? That must be maths then."

No. One was pure math. The other was applied math. Just like my two A-levels from 1976, both of which read "math", not "maths", at least according to the paperwork. Together, they are "maths".

The mind boggles at the folks trying to maintain a grasp of the Empire. The world has moved on. Live with reality.

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Re: Oh how perfectly dreadful

"Jake: it is www.theregister.co.uk"

So the hell what? Anyone can read ElReg, world-wide. And can comment from pretty much anywhere, world wide. And ElReg seems to like it that way.

"Americans do not get to dictate British spelling (yet)."

What's the British spelling of "router"? Is it "rooter" or "rowter"?

Please note that ElReg has Aussie & Yank offices. And I'll warrant that the bulk of ElReg's readership & commentards are Yanks. Stop being so provincial. Rumor has it that a large percentage of the nomenclature in the techie world was invented by Yanks. Probably because we invented the tech.

Again, language mutates. Get used to it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh how perfectly dreadful

It's not just mutation, it's divergence.

"Math" is American-English, not English

You're a septic, deal with it

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Mushroom

Re: @frank ly (was: @jake Oh how perfectly dreadful)

In the context of use here, It is mathematics, not mathematic, and therefore it is abreviated maths and not math. Maybe the colonies will get around to correcting this slang one day....

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Paris Hilton

With all the plausible ball lightning models....

...one would think that we would be surronded by ball lightning. But no....

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Re: With all the plausible ball lightning models....

I think it's likely there is more than one cause because one model could never explain all the observations that have been reported. Some of the observed characteristics are directly contradictory to each other, i.e., having it appear in sealed areas like diesel submarine battery banks where there is no lightning as such. Sometimes it can pass through a window without incident, other times it burns a hole through the glass.

My mom said when she was a kid she saw ball lightning come out of the mouthpiece of the phone (one of those old timey wall phones from the 30s) and float across the room and then dump into a bucket of wash water that was sitting on the other side of the room, disappearing with a loud pop and bright flash. When they got up the courage to touch the water some time later, it was still a bit warm.

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Ball lighning

Seen it once, about 2 ft diameter. Very pretty, n fascinating. It left its own little crop circle like mark in the neighbors lawn.

I suspect the physics behind it would have some really cool applications, once we understand it. If not it makes a hell of a pretty light show. Good luck on this one guys!

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Joke

Re: Ball lighning

You saw ball lightning? I regard you as being nuts.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Ball lighning

"physics"? Don't you mean "Fizziks"?

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Re: Ball lighning

As a fizzy cyst I approve of your spelling

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Facepalm

Re: Ball lighning-nuts?

Not as nuts as anal bleaching.

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Re: Ball lighning

"physics"? Don't you mean "Fizziks"?

i think youll find its fizzik

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Coat

Sums

A friends daughter is currently at Cambridge studying " hard sums"

Can we not just settle on hard sums for the applied and very hard sums for the pure stuff?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sums

Sums? Sums? If you're still adding stuff up then you've obviously not progressed to the hard stuff. She's probably using numbers, too.

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Re: Sums

rithmetik, innit?

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Mushroom

Re: Sums

"Hard Sum" surely?

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May explain SOME ocurrences

Not much help with the many instances of ball lightning reported on board electrically powered submarines due to switching heavy battery currents though.

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Headmaster

Re: May explain SOME ocurrences

Citation needed!

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How to make ball lightning

Take a powerful flash with a circular head or make one from your cooking foil hat. Get someone to set it off while you look just to the left or right of it.

This leaves an image of a circle (ball!!!) burned in your retina for a while. You can then try and look at the image by moving you eyes to point at it and voilà the ball moves - and even passes through glass if you look at a window. Now convince yourself the only solution is ball lightning and not the bleeding obvious.

You can even get it to write your name in the sky if you're feeling messianic.

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Re: How to make ball lightning

False. Ball lightning is evidently a reflection of the planet Venus bouncing off swamp gas.

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Re: How to make ball lightning

Now explain the marks left.

Not that there's necessarily only one explanation. Yours is perfectly possible. The downside is that retina burn is something everyone has experienced, so we're all pretty familiar with it.

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Paris Hilton

Re: How to make ball lightning

Marks left? A lightning strike causes all sorts of burns and scorches almost instantly so if your eye has temporary retina burn from the main flash source (there may be many nearly simultaneous flashes) the eyes can them move towards these other sources of light with the main retina burn following giving the illusion of a continuous moving and shrinking ball of light. Remember it can kill people across almost a whole football pitch - scorching a few things in a room is a piece of piss.

Most cases of reports of ball lightning that I've seen are easily explained by the above and mans ability to fill in gaps in their heads with all sorts of convincing stuff. I know - I've been a couple of feet away from a lightning strike and thought I'd seen all sorts of things but realised that half the so called flash I thought I saw was due the the sheer percussive force of the thunder and about 6 pints of adrenalin running round my system afterwards. And the lack of windows after the strike was a bit of a clue too.

I'd love ball lightning to exist cos it would be so much fun but it doesn't. I'm not saying their maths is wrong - you do get glows above ground over small earthquakes and stresses ground and sprites etc above storms which is what I believe this maths might help explain but to expect reliable scientific observations from someone who has just stood next to the loudest firework you will every hear/feel is a bit much.

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Anonymous Coward

Math or Maths

I couldn't do neither at school

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Joke

I always thought

"ball lightening" would be the sort of operation Buster Gonad would want

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Anonymous Coward

Math or Maths

I am a Brit, yet have always found the debates of American/UK spelling odd, given the considerable contributions to standard dictionaries by our American cousins. It is my understanding that Webster's was published before the first Oxford English Dictionary. It is also my understanding that one of the major contributors to the OED was an American doctor from the Union army, who was somewhat traumatised during the civil war. He came to England and was arrested for murder during a fight in a London bar. He was then committed to Broadmoor, a somewhat famous institution for the criminally insane. Whilst there, he communicated with the OED compilers by letter. Remarkably they did not recognise the significance of his address, they though it was a grand country mansion During his incarceration there, he used his surgical skills to castrate himself.

I must admit since 'mathematics' is plural, I prefer the shortened version 'maths'.

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Anonymous Coward

Its maths - basically math's but missing the apostrophe.

As for ball lightning - everyone knows it's the souls of the dead released from the ether by the discharge of electricity.

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If it's math's, what does it own?

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The apostrophe in this case is for contraction, not possession. however, i would have done it as math.s. The '.' being used for an abbreviation. OTOH, if we cannot get an agreement on spelling/usage across the waters, I shudder to think about the debate that theoretical punctuation would start.

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Pint

Ooh ooh! I spot a regional spelling!

Somebody summon a policeman!

(Besides, everybody knows "Math" was a king of Gwynedd who needed to rest his feet in the lap of a virgin or else he would die, and "Maths" would refer to him, together with the famous wise-woman of the Andre Norton collection).

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Anonymous Coward

Maths

Having heard of BL passing through glass and annihilating a TV, that same evening a "column of fire" came out of a Sony 14" TV.

That one turned out to be a failed diode in the B+ stage, seems that whatever hit this unfortunate TV blew the diode and created an arc between the EHT and ground.

Amazingly after changing the diode and a few other parts "just in case" the TV worked again which just proves that Sony knew how to make stuff back in the day.

I have seen BL-like effects before from distant storms, but nothing close-up yet.

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bep

Australia is neither England nor America

and I do hear young people here saying 'math' rather than 'maths'. They also say 'elevator' instead of 'lift' and many other things. So you're all wrong, or right, or something.

As for ball lightning, I've never seen it, but it might explain the Min Min Lights.

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