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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Balls of Fire

WASHINGTON -- Scientists for centuries have been baffled by a phenomenon known as ball lightning. Every once in a while during a thunderstorm, a ball of bright white or yellowish light, about the size of a child's head, appears in the sky for about 15 seconds before suddenly fading.

Now, John Abrahamson and James Dinnis of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand have proposed a new hypothesis for the enigmatic phenomenon. Ball lightning, the pair suggests, is caused when regular lightning strikes the earth, converting mineral grains in the soil into tiny particles that ignite and are carried aloft by the wind.