Pat Shingleton: "Needed Rain and Ball Lightning"
In Africa the motto "Khotso, Pula, Nala" means Peace, Rain, Prosperity. Young girls participate in the "masokoaneng" or the rain game. One young lady is chosen to enter a village house and steal the stirring stick or their "lesokoana." If she is caught, she delivers the stick to her village where a victory celebration ensues. Chaac, is the god of lightning and Mayans, on the Yucatan Peninsula, believed that the thunderbolt was responsible for rain. To keep Chaac happy, human sacrifices were offered in water-filled sinkholes called "cenotes." Once Chaac received the offering, he would rise from the well and scratch his curved nose against clouds that were believed to be bellies of rain, showering the crops. Heavy scratching would create a thunderstorm. Also, ball lightning appears as a round moving blob 4 to 5 inches in diameter, traveling several hundred feet per second in erratic paths. Years ago, a neighbor’s home was set afire from the ball lightning. Recently, an Australian scientist developed a mathematical formula to identify its genesis. Theories on how it forms are numerous including microwave radiation from thunderclouds, oxidizing aerosols and burning silicon particles formed during a lightning strike. John Lowke and his colleagues use standard mathematical equations for the motion of electrons and ions to describe the initiation of ball lightning. Lowke believes that ball lightning occurs when a stream of ions accumulates on the outside of a glass window and the electrical field on the opposite side excites air molecules to form a discharge ball.