In their effort for greater understanding of lightening strikes, a team of European scientists is getting out of the lab and moving forward on their 2004 research in a quest to use high power laser pulses to trigger electrical activity in actual thunderclouds. The powerful lasers create ionized channels known as plasma filaments in the atmosphere, which will conduct electricity. According to JÃ©rÃ´me Kasparian of the University of Lyon in France; "It was the first time we generated lighting precursors in a thundercloud."
Though these strikes were only generated within a cloud, the scientists hope to fine-tune the lasers to create filaments lasting long enough to produce air to ground strikes. If successful, the research will be used in lightning sensitivity testing for airplanes and power lines.
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