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Chapter 2


This author's father recounted a story from his childhood. As the family sat in the kitchen on a rainy day, lightning hit near the chimney. Moments later a plasma fire ball emerged from an open plate on the cook stove. This fireball floated across the floor, out the open kitchen door, and vanished in the garden.

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The Plasma ball was about as bright as a 100 watt light bulb. This story is consistent with many other ball lightning accounts. These accounts tell us something about the nature of ball lightning. From these accounts we can glean the following information:

1. The fact that it sinks in the atmosphere reveals that it is denser than air.

2.That fact it does not move with projectile motion and drifts along in the atmosphere reveals that it is not much denser than air.

3.Its luminosity (about a bright as a 100 watt light bulb) reveals that it is a "cool" (less than 5,000 degrees C) plasma.

4. Its "long" few second life reveals that its energy is somehow being replenish.

The famous Russian ball lightning researcher P.L. Kapista calculated that the thermal energy stored within a small plasma fireball could maintain its luminosity for no more than .01 seconds. Kapista suggested that a natural radio wave is the external source energy required to account for the unexpectedly long lifetime of ball lightning. Kapista gave no explanation of how the radio waves are maintained in free space without a metal waveguide.1

This author believes that ball lightning extracts zero point energy from free space. Many experiments were designed to produce a ball of lightning and measure its energy. The experiments conducted fall into three general categories. These categories are:

1. Low pressure arc
2. High current
3. Microwave

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Low pressure arc experiments were conducted by Frank Znidarsic in the late 1980's. These experiments were designed to produce a high density plasma or ball of lightning A vacuum jar was obtained from Frey Scientific. The base of the jar was modified to bring in high voltage cables. A high voltage power supply was used to charge a bank of capacitors to a potential of 5,000 volts. This bank of capacitors, containing 100 joules of energy was then discharged into the low pressure containment. Large blooming, diffuse arcs were formed. Various gasses and different electrode configurations were tried. The color of the arc varied depending on the gas that was placed into the jar.

In one embodiment the entire device was powered by batteries and charged to a potential of to 100,000 volts with a large Van-de-Graff generator. Disappointingly, the high voltage had little effect on the arc. The result of these experiments was negative. Ball lighting did not tend to form at low pressures. In fact, the result of these experiments indicated that the dense plasma associated with ball lighting will more readily form at high pressure.

Equipment was not available to explore arcs at high pressure. In lieu of performing the actual experiments, inquires were made to many underwater welding firms. Fire balls were indeed observed by divers welding at high current (900 amps) at great depths (600 feet).2 Deep diver, Jack Couch, swatted at one of these balls. He then discovered a bit of slag in his glove. Jack believes that these fire balls are not balls of lightning but rather bits of molten slag trapped in an air bubble.

In 1992, Harold E. Puthoff, the director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Austin, Texas, was also conducting low pressure arc experiments. Puthoff experiments followed up on the early energy experiments of Kenneth Shoulders. Puthoff's drove an arc with a sharply pulsing electrical current. He used electrodes made of a heavy metal. Dr. Puthoff has had some success and produced tiny amounts of excess energy. He has not, however, been able to scale up the process.

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Historic picture. Pick the icon to view Puthoff's early ball lightning experiments. Micro-plasma balls were produced in the vacuum chamber at which Puthoff is pointing. Puthoff's measured tiny amounts of anomalous energy.

Currently Ken Shoulders and his work are being continued with the support of Hal Fox

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High current experiments were conducted by Frank Znidarsic and Frank Stenger in the late 1980's and early 1990's. These experiments discharged a large (1/10 farad) bank of capacitors through a potential of 1,000 volts. Various electrode arrangements and magnetic field configurations were tried. A video camera and an oscilloscope were used to monitor the action. The oscilloscope showed that the bank of capacitors discharged through the arc in about one milli-second. The arc current was calculated from the oscilloscope trace. Currents of over 250,000 amps were produced. The video showed the arc explosion in 1/30 of a second frames. The slow motion replay showed many fire balls spewing from the arc. Inspection of the video and of the experimental device revealed that these fireballs were hot vaporized burning fragments of electrode metal (aluminum and copper). No balls of lightning were observed. You will hear Frank Stenger announcing the test, followed by the sound of the tripping mechanism, then the blast.

[animated gif] Pick the left icon to view Frank Stenger's high current ball lightning experiment.

[ Frank Stenger conducts a ball lighting experiment late 1980's ]

Pick the right icon to view a movie of Frank Stenger's ball lightning experiment.

Pick the icon left to view a schematic of Stenger's machine.

Pick the icon right to view the plasma ball the formed at the base of Peter Graneau's high current water arc experiment. This plasma ball persisted for a few video frames after the main arc extinguished.

[ Frank Stenger's Tokatron ball lightning machine ] Stenger's Tokatron high current ball lightning device.
97,000 micro farads were discharged through 1,050 volts.
The plan was for the lighting ball to exit the top of the device into the catcher plate above.

Pick the icon right to view the an example of the types of equipment that have been making arcs and sparks for over one hunderd years.

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Microwave experiments were conducted by Frank Znidarsic and Frank Stenger in the early 1990's. These experiments were of three types. These types are:

1. Experiments that produced an arc discharge within a microwave cavity.

2. Experiments that produced a plasma by placing a high potential needle point in a microwave cavity.

3. Experiments employing a cage around the microwave wave guide.

[Drawing was made with MicroSoft Paint Brush and converted to the GIF format using Hijaak Graphics Suite] Pick the icon to view types of microwave experiments.

Microwaves were generated with a 900 watt microwave oven. Arcs were produced in the oven by remotely drawing two electrodes apart. These electrodes were fed by a 50 kilowatt compound opposed generator. Various materials were tried as electrodes. When both electrodes were made of metal they tended to stick together. The remote control mechanism was not able to draw the stuck electrodes apart. This problem was resolved by using one graphite electrode. A capacitor was installed between the high voltage electrode and ground at the point at which the high voltage electrode entered into the microwave cavity. This capacitor was constructed from a glass tube inserted between two cylindrical pipes. The capacitor was designed to limit microwave leakage to 10 milliwatts per cm2. Ferrite toroids, obtained from Palamor Electronics Company, were also used to limit the microwave leakage. The toroids were placed around the electrode at the point at where it entered the cavity. The experiments were monitored with a video camera. Several flashes and floating fireballs were observed. It is believed that these fireballs were produced by burning carbon that was given off by the graphite electrode. No balls of lightning were observed.

[ Znidarsic & Stenger microwave ball lightning experiment.  cerca 1990 ] Pick the icon to view a movie of an arc microwave experiment. The machine running in the background is a welding generator.

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A needle shaped electrode was inserted into the microwave cavity. A high voltage direct current electrical potential was placed on the electrode. Microwave leakage was again controlled with ferrite toroids and capacitors. It proved difficult to construct a leakage capacitor that could withstand the high voltages and the microwave energies. Special high temperature Pyrex glass had to be used in the construction of the capacitor. Electrical potentials were tried of up to 100,000 volts. At potentials greater than 30 kilovolts an arc would jump from the electrode to the wall of the microwave cavity. This arc would shunt the desired high voltage to ground. The potential on the electrode was therefore limited to about 30,000 volts. Various materials were tried at the needle point of the electrode. Both positive , negative, and pulsed D.C. potentials were tried. The microwave oven was modified by removing the microwave stirrer, rerouting the air flow, and modifying the magnetron's power supply. The potential to the magnetron's anode is supplied, in commercial microwave ovens, by a half wave voltage doubling 4,000 volt power supply. This supply was replaced with a full wave supply. This increased the power output of the magnetron tube to approximately 900 watts. These experiments did result in the production of a few floating plasmoids.

Pick the icon to view the plasma ball that was produced in a microwave chamber.

The plasmoids lasted for about .5 seconds. In one case the microwave's power was switched off at the moment the plasmoid formed. The plasmoid immediately extinguished. The fact the plasmoid did not persist indicates that the plasmoid's energy was supplied by the microwave field. The formation of freely floating plasmoid was a rare event under "identical" conditions. The mechanism that resulted in the rare event has not been determined. The process seemed to work better at high microwave energies, with a heavy metal needle, and with a pulsed positive D.C. potential on the electrode.

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Helium was tried because its nucleus contains an even number of nucleons. A nucleus with an even number of nucleons is a Boson. The helium was obtained from a local welding supply house in a small "D" sized cylinder. This helium was emitted into the microwave cavity. Upon the admission of the helium, the arc changed from a bright white (arc type discharge) to a dull blue (glow type discharge). The helium tended to arrest the arc and did not produce the desired effect.

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NATURE ARTICLE VOLUME 246 March 14, 1991

Experiments were conducted by Y.H Ohtsuke and H. Ofuruton at the University of Okubo in Japan. These experiments were run at 5 kilowatts of microwave energy. On several occasions the plasmoid were produced that persisted for several seconds after the magnetron was turned off. Excess energy appears to have been produced. Ofuruton concluded,
"We can find no reasonable explanation for the fire balls lasting for such a long time after the magnetron was turned off."
Ofuruton has since appeared on network television in Japan. During one of these appearances he generated a ball of lightning. He added methane gas to get the ball going. As it turns out Ofuruton is quite a show man. This author is beginning to question the accuracy of his reports.

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James and Kenneth Corum of Corum & Associates in Windsor, Ohi, are producing balls of lighting with two synchronously pulsed high power oscillators. Their device is modeled after a machine built by Nikola Tesla in 1897. They claim that their device has produced balls of lightning. 3 This author does not understand the principles behind the mixing of two radio frequency waves. The Corums have moved from Windsor. This author is currently trying to locate the two brothers.

Pick the icon to view a schematic of the Corum machine.

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During the "Guppy Reconversion Program" in 1945, tests were performed on the electrical gear of the submarine the U.S.S. Cutlass. During these tests a fully charged bank of batteries was accidentally connected across a non-spinning generator. The reverse current circuit breaker opened and interrupted the resulting short circuit.

[ If the movie fails to run in quicktime, disable quicktime for AVI by selecting
START, CONTROL PANEL,  right mouse  over QUICKTIME.  Set the MIME settings ] Historic video. Pick the icon to view a movie taken in the breaker room in a 1940's Cutlass class submarine. The lever was pulled closing the batteries in around a dead generator. This resulted in a fault. The high fault current tripped the field circuit breaker. The background sound is demolition in progress. The image left, from the Pacific Submarine Command, was reproduced with permission.

A green fireball floated out of the circuit breaker into the engine room. The life of this fireball was about one second. Paul A. Silberg of the Raytheon Company investigated this (and other similar) incident in 1962.4 Silberg concluded that "Some configurational energy must be present" in the plasma balls. Silberg offered an explanation to account for the excess energy. He said that the energy of the plasma ball was contained within a loop of current. This current loop exists within the plasma. The stable existence of such a loop of current requires a "force free field configuration". Since Silberg's investigation it has been proven that such "force free field" configurations cannot exist. This proof is know as the Viral theorem. It is interesting to note that the short circuit in the submarine generated a current of about 150,000 amps. Stenger's experiments exceeded this current threshold and did not produce ball lightning.

Pick the icon to view a drawing of the reverse current breaker aboard the Cutlass that produced the ball of lightning.

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The "Plasma Mantle Kernel" device or "PLASMAK" TM, is the invention of Paul M. Koloc of College Park, MD. 5 This device uses an ultra-violet flash lamp and mirrors to produce an "image". An electrical voltage is then applied across the ionized path of the "image". The resulting arc follows the helical path of the "image". Electrical forces compress the helical arc into what Koloc calls a "Magnetoplasmoid." These "Magnetoplasmoids" or balls of lightning have lifetimes of about 30 milli-seconds.

Pick the icon to view a schematic of the Plasmak.

Much of Koloc's work is held as a trade secret. Frank Stenger, who this author trusts as an expert in the field, has stated that Koloc's work is sound.

Radio Frequency Plasma Balls

In November 28, 1988 'Sofia BTA in English' 1426 GMT 18 reported:

"Bulgarian engineer Kiril Chukanov has completed his work on a new physics theory: "Quantum Limits of the World". It is a scientific analysis of the essence, behavior and the emission of great quantities of energy from ball lightning which cannot be explained with the known physical laws. According to the 'Orbita Weekly' the phenomenon studied by Chukanov and especially its practical application is so significant that it could cause a revolution in world energetics with all the consequences ensuing from it."

Mark Goldies and his company Magnetic Power Inc. brought Chukanov to Sebastopol California in the early 1980's. Chukanov was never able to demonstrate his technology at Magnetic Power. Currenlty Chukanov is continuing his work at his own company.


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Experiments involving silica nano-particles seem to have produced ball lightning. It is not known if the energy of the ball comes from the oxidation of silicon metal or from some other exotic source. This author's work, as explained in the upcoming chapters, involves the thermal stimulation of 50nm particles. Hopefully we will soon learn more about the ball lightning process.


An indication of the density of the plasmoid is the direction of travel. All of the plasmoids produced to date rose. This fact demonstrates that the plasmoids were lighter than air. Natural ball lightning sinks in the atmosphere indicating that its density is greater than that of air.6 It is believed that if the density of the plasma could be increased to the point at which the plasmoid sinks in the atmosphere, it would begin to absorb zero point energy from free space. The plasma's electron density would have to have to be denser greater than 1027 electrons/m3. The plasma at this density can be considered to be a condensation. A strong force is required to hold such a plasma condensation together. Puthoff has shown that the Casimar force may be able to momentarily hold a plasma condensation together. In practice, plasmas of this density have not yet been produced. This author has completed his work at microwave energies below 1000 watts. Higher energies may be needed to produce plasma balls of sufficient density to extract the zero point energy of matter.

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1. P.L. Kapista, Dokl.Akad. Nauk. SSSR 101,245 (1955);Phys. Blatter
"The Nature of Ball Lightning" Stanley Singer, Plenum Press, New York. 1971

2. To dive to this depth Jack had to breath Trimix a mixture of nitrogen, helium, and oxygen. Six days of decompression was required. Dives this deep are a dangerous venture.

3. TESLA COIL BUILDERS ASSOCIATION, News Volume 8, #3, 1989, 3 Amy Lane Queensbury, NY

4. "Ball Lightning and Plasmoids" Paul A. Silberg Journal of Geophysical Research Volume 67, No. 12 November 1962

5. "PLASMAK TM Star Power for Energy Intensive Space Applications " FUSION TECHNOLOGY, VOL 15 1989, Pages 1136-1141

6. "Energy Transfer Problems of Ball Lightning", GY. Egely, Central Research Institute of Physics, Budapest, Hungry, HU ISSN 0368 5330

Nano Particles and Ball Lightning see:

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