Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Kite, A Key And A Lightning Bolt

We have an electrical storm heading toward us and I’ve got this great scientific experimental idea: stay inside and have a bowl of porridge. We think Ben Franklin was lucky when he was flying his kite and didn’t get blown into Kingdom Come, but I’ve of a different opinion: I posit that he could not get hit if he dared the gods of the black clouds to hit him.

Lightning is not particularly interested in anything that is not useful to it. What does it want? An easy path to ground. A kite string to some fool’s hand, through him and his shoes isn’t that exciting to Mr. Bolt. It wants trees with a good root system (stay away from trees and their equal-sized roots), church steeples with lightning rods, transformers on telephone poles, tv antennas on your roof – of which there aren’t many in this area where cable tv began.

What does it not want? AM radio towers and railroad tracks, just to mention two. Yeah, you’re probably safer on a railroad track because it’s insulated from ground by the wooden (or concrete) ties. I wouldn’t recommend it and I won’t try it, but they’re on ties, which are on crushed rock. AM radio towers are insulated from ground because that’s how they work; I was at a station where we had two 300’ towers with an insulated line between them holding up an approx 300’ wire. We got knocked off the air during a violent storm once and it was because lightning went between all this metal up there and hit a power-line transformer down on a pole.

And nary a man with a kite to be seen.


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