Publish at February 01 2023 Updated February 01 2023

Mastering lightning: a dream come true

Laser technology that could protect certain places

Lightning has always been perceived as an incredible force by humanity. Once the instrument of gods, it is now better understood thanks to the work of, among others, pioneers such as Benjamin Franklin. Nevertheless, this natural phenomenon is not insignificant. Every year, people are fatally or seriously struck by lightning. Lightning can cause severe forest fires in very dry conditions, damage buildings (despite lightning rods) and strike aircraft on the ground, which can damage them or delay their departure.

What if we could divert lightning? Swiss scientists analyzed in the lab that when a laser beam was projected, the current followed it, whereas without that presence, it became erratic. However, this had to be proven in nature. Thus, a European consortium has installed on the summit of Mount Santis a laser sending flashes of light of a picosecond of a powerful force performing thousands of flashes per second. In July 2021, the laser manages to deflect a lightning bolt on its trajectory. A historic photo showing the possibilities of this discovery near airports, risky environments, etc.

Time: 2min24

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