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Clone Wars
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Swine flu goes global
Copycat Monkeys
Training Your Brain to Feel Less Pain
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Emus
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A Light Delay
Bandages that could bite back
Batteries built by Viruses
Computers
The solar system's biggest junkyard
Two monkeys see a more colorful world
It's a Small E-mail World After All
Dinosaurs and Fossils
Fossil Fly from Antarctica
Tiny Pterodactyl
Dinosaur Dig
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Results of GSAT are in schools this week
E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
2014 GSAT Results for Jamaican Kids
Earth
Rodent Rubbish as an Ice-Age Thermometer
Snowflakes and Avalanches
The Rise of Yellowstone
Environment
Where rivers run uphill
Ready, unplug, drive
Hazy with a Chance of Sunshine
Finding the Past
Digging Up Stone Age Art
Decoding a Beverage Jar
Words of the Distant Past
Fish
Tuna
Whale Sharks
Nurse Sharks
Food and Nutrition
The mercury in that tuna
The Essence of Celery
Building a Food Pyramid
GSAT English Rules
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Who vs. That vs. Which
Who vs. Whom
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Results of GSAT are in schools this week
Tarrant High overcoming the odds
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42,000 students will sit for the GSAT Exam in two weeks
GSAT stars reap scholarship glory
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GSAT Mathematics
How to Slice a Cake Fairly
GSAT Mathematics Quiz, Teaching Math, teaching anxiety
GSAT Practice Papers | GSAT Mathematics | Maths
Human Body
Heart Revival
A Long Haul
A Sour Taste in Your Mouth
Invertebrates
Arachnids
Bedbugs
Flatworms
Mammals
Raccoons
Lion
Pitbulls
Parents
Choosing a Preschool: What to Consider
Children and Media
How children learn
Physics
One ring around them all
The Particle Zoo
Echoes of a Stretched Egg
Plants
Sweet, Sticky Science
Tracking the Sun Improves Plant Pollen
Fungus Hunt
Reptiles
Crocodilians
Garter Snakes
Komodo Dragons
Space and Astronomy
World of Three Suns
Planets on the Edge
Gravity Tractor as Asteroid Mover
Technology and Engineering
Supersuits for Superheroes
Switchable Lenses Improve Vision
Drawing Energy out of Wastewater
The Parts of Speech
What is a Verb?
Pronouns
What is a Preposition?
Transportation
Revving Up Green Machines
Robots on the Road, Again
Robots on a Rocky Road
Weather
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
Either Martians or Mars has gas
Science loses out when ice caps melt
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Powering Ball Lightning

Ball lightning is one of the strangest objects you might never see. The rare, basketball-sized fireballs occasionally form in nature after lightning strikes soil. They can float or bounce and last for several minutes before disappearing. In recent years, scientists have learned something about the science behind ball lightning. But questions remain. A new study helps illuminate the picture. Researchers at Tel Aviv University in Israel began the study after making ball lightning by mistake in their lab. Vladimir Dikhtyar and Eli Jerby had just invented a new type of drill that was made partly from pieces of microwave ovens. The tip of the drill concentrates microwave radiation into a spot that measures just 2 millimeters wide. Such concentrated radiation allows the drill to pierce many materials. About 10 years ago, Dikhtyar and Jerby were testing their new device when a glowing blob suddenly blew out of the material they were drilling. The blob eventually reentered the drill, causing a lot of damage. Hoping to find out what had ruined their fancy tool, the engineers experimented until they could reliably make fireballs on purpose. The trick, they found, was to drill into glass. They found a way to cage the glowing blobs for up to several minutes. To make the trap, they used a tissue-box-sized container with glass walls. They kept the glowing orbs alive by zapping them with extra microwaves. The lab-made blobs were different from ball lightning that occurs in nature. For one thing, the artificial balls were much smaller—just a few centimeters across, instead of basketball-sized or bigger. They formed in a different way too. And if left alone, the manmade blobs vanished within 30 milliseconds. (There are 1,000 milliseconds in 1 second). Still, the scientists thought their blobs were realistic enough to help test one of the leading theories about what causes ball lightning in nature. In 2000, researchers from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, proposed that ball lightning forms when lightning strikes soil. Under the right conditions, the strike creates a charged gas that glows and contains dust that is full of microscopic particles. Chemical reactions within the dust then create energy that keeps the gas glowing, the scientists suspected. Using an intense X-ray beam, Dikhtyar and Jerby found evidence to support that theory. Their tests showed tiny particles within the artificial blobs. These particles were similar in size to the particles that may exist in natural ball lightning.—Emily Sohn

Powering Ball Lightning
Powering Ball Lightning








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