Science news: Scientists stumble across secret to BALL LIGHTNING | Science | News

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US scientists have created a “knot” of atoms, which spin and interact in a way similar to ball lightning.

The knot, called a skyrmion, was discovered by scientists at Amherst College in the US and Aalto University in Finland.

They used magnetic fields to create the skyrmion, a move which could blow open the theory behind ball lightning.

Scientists have suspected but not confirmed the theory ball lightning is created by magnet fields and this discovery adds serious weight to these suspicions – albeit not confirming them.

The discovery was outlined in a new paper in the Science Advances journal. Finnish scientist Mikko Mottonen, who co-authored the paper, said he was stunned by the discovery.

He said: “The biggest moment was when we realised we got the same electromagnetic fields as predicted for ball lightning.

“We didn’t aim for that. But wow.”

He said the discovery and the clues given to the cause of ball lightning were “remarkable” – and possibly the key to the phenonomon.

Mr Mottonen said: “It is remarkable that we could create the synthetic electromagnetic knot, that is, quantum ball lightning, essentially with just two counter-circulating electric currents.

“Thus, it may be possible that a natural ball lighting could arise in a normal lightning strike.”

He did concede more testing was needed before the cause and nature of ball lightning could be definitely stated.

Mr Mottonen concluded: “More research is needed to know whether or not it is also possible to create a real ball lightning with a method of this kind.

“Further studies could lead to finding a solution to keep plasma together efficiently and enable more stable fusion reactors than we have now.”

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