lightning discharge
Lightning Mechanics
Mechanical effects of lightning discharges, repetitive discharge into one or several points
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Crop circles

The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.   N.Bohr
Thunder is good, thunder is impressive. But it is lightning that does the work.   M.Twain
It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value.  S.Hawking

Up to several kilograms of TNT/meter of discharge

Mechanical effects of the lightning discharge (slightly above average) may be compared to explosion of detonating cord, several hundred grams per meter. More than average discharge much more than a few kilograms of explosive per meter. Specific effects depends to a considerable extent on the type of the discharge contact with the ground.

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Physics, theory, principles, development, effects of lighting.

The best sources from science books and internet.

Gallery of 117 lightning pictures from Chuck Doswell.

Very good photos, able to use Slideshow



Watch carefully two pictures down here.

Looking at theese two pictures above, able to try imagine, how strong forces appeared on that place. That tree, several tons weighing, looks like broken match, and broken parts are lying everywhere round that place like scattered matches. There has become to really a great explosion there, like several hundreds kg of TNT, and at relatively uncoordinated deployment of explosive much more. Also possible to imagine, how much energy and work would be need, to make the same effect with a similar tree, untouched, for instance for film shooting. Axes, saws, power saws, autocrane, tractors, workers, several hours of team working. Compare to only odd lightning flash, and only a split of the second. Some physical characteristics of lightning stroke in following table.


Typical flash characteristics (from Lightning: Physics and effects, Rakov, Uman, page 6) ; (whole table down this page)

Overall flash (CG - type negative discharge)

Duration 200-300 ms
Number of strokes per flash 3-5 (About 15 to 20 percent of lightning flashes are composed of a single stroke).
Interstroke interval 60 ms
Charge transfer 20 C
Energy 109 - 1010 J


Also a short look to one other book, Lightning Electromagnetics, Robert L. Gardner, Taylor & Francis, 1990 ISBN 0891169881, where just at the starting pages able to read something about corona discharges, that appear in very-high-voltage-systems. Every lightning-discharge is a "really very-very-very-very-very-high-voltage-system-discharge", and operates with such a high voltage, that would be never found in any people - made systems and machines. (maybe only lightning - rods); more about corona discharge on some other page


At the same time, however, worth noting one very important fact. Despite everything that happened on the site in terms of mechanical, does not appear on the site nor any hint of burnt or burning material, no indication that anything burned on that site or just a moment blazed, let alone any signs of a larger fire.


Also possible to imagine, that similar or much greater forces appear in a field, during lightning discharges there, but very evenly distributed. At about 1000 stalks per m2, works like  a giant spark - gap, and not every stalk dies, maybe less than 1% or a little more, not possible to recognize. Really very often, immediately after lightning, there is no lodged (damaged, weakened) stalk in that field, because mechanical impulse was really huge, but short. Mechanical damage may appear, but unrecognizable, and will increase thanks to growing. Plants are much more damaged by electric energy impulse, induced in them (classic electromagnetic induction, plant body acts as approximatelly straight wire), or by directly conducted electric current, flowing through it thanks to corona currents, air conductivity (very small but nonzero) or "momentally connected network of stalks and leafs", created by momentary mechanical impulse of Return Stroke precedent to some subsequent R.S. in a multistoke lightning discharge, that evoked short, momentary bending of the stalks to the ground surface.


Plants may be affected by one or more subsequent discharges (coming in a row less than one tenth of a second), and during that time, the shape of the resulting patterns may differently temporarily change (like water rings), and subsequent discharges may sometime never fall just into the same point. For example, in the book Lightning: Physics and Effects, Rakov, Uman, in the chapter "Winter Storms in Japan" are reported cases that during some positive lightnings subsequent discharges never hit into the same point, every time several tens meters farther away, as if its shoulders, falling just one after each other, mutually repelled one from other. Something like that may not appear only in Japan, and not only in winter.


Thanks to tissues, still in very good condition, not damaged, "soft and flexible", they are able to stand up back very quickly, and to be "disconnected" by that, but before that disconnecting whole such momentary structure is hit by next, immediately coming restrike (becomes approx. 30-60 ms after the first Return Stroke), and whole that momentary structure is "exposed" by that electric current. Nothing visible, stalks staying upright after all that, plants look intacted, even if badly damaged. (photos)


Really, immediately after lightning, even if badly damaged (or died), plant tissues and structures remain almost mechanically unchanged even if contain significant percent of dead cells, their mechanical properties - elasticity, tensile, tearing and torsion strength will lower rapidly, but after several days or weeks. Even such a plants, that  were after lightning killed immediately, and even if they received such a quantity of energy, much higher than lethal, still a few days look like alive, then they turn yellow, dry out and fall apart. Their situation is possible to compare for example to a situation of torn flowers in a vase. Delivery and transport of liquids is uninterrupted, and some their parts may exhibit metabolism for some time yet. Only plants that have received a quantity of energy really much higher than in that described cases (50, 200 times or more over lethal dose ... Added 26th of September 2013 - tentative experiments show, that in such a case would be the dose for example 10000 times higher than lethal, and plants still even then show no signs of carbonisation), may immediately turn yellow to brown, or even burnt also carbonised. Plants with interrupted water transport exhibit noticeable signs of withering away much faster (100, 1000 times) than in the opposite case. Compared to days or weeks, the consequences in such a case manifest themselves often already within a few minutes, at most hours. To disruption of water transport within the plants is necessary very noticeable mechanical or thermal damage, a mere drying or death of plant parts (eg stem) is totally insufficient. How is it possible to convince in a very simple experiment (see photo), even a part of the plant, that is totally dead, may throughout the whole rest of the growing season, or the lifetime of a plant part (sheet) without any defects successfully perform the function of vascular tissue.


The issue will be elaborated in much more detail on the page Electrophytopathology. There will be described for example quantitative methodology for determining the value of electrical energy conducted through, after which there will appear death of a defined mass quantities of plant material, maybe recalculated to the dry matter. Also will be examined and documented for example the determination of lethal doses of electricity for various plant materials, influence of the current passage speed (applied voltage), the behavior of plant material after the passage of sub lethal, above lethal and highly above lethal quantities of electricity, and many other phenomena.


Other portions of electric energy maybe transferred into stalks by electrostatic induction and next by current conduction on earth ground, near underground and roots. There is possible to appear many interferences and resonances between all of that described currents. Electromagnetic and electrostatic induction, corona currents and direct currents in earth ground. Also possible interference between LEMP - produces waves of any possible frequency and any stalk and leaf has its capacity, induction, resistance, resonance frequency and may appear like LC, RC or LRC electrical circuit.


Also mechanical interferences possible - stalks and leafs may appear like springs and pendulums.


Also possible to imagine, that in a similar conditions (very short mechanical impulses coming from above), there may appear something like a waves on the water, also circles. It is possible to see wind waves in crop fields, (video), why not circles after such a great vertical mechanical impulses from lightning? Like several hundreds kg of TNT just above the field. Also not only a little shakes of earth ground, just at the place where the lightning hit grounded, and between every of described effects possible to happen great mechanical resonances and interferences. Also standing waves may appear, like in the case of Chladni pictures.


However, it is not all, what may happen there, also possible great elecromagnetic impulses, and also their resonances and interferences. And in addition to all that, there may appear circular or semi-cirdular electric currents (and forces), just the same or very similar as in classic three-phase electrical power network. Maybe even much more complicated.


But after all that, such a great mechanic and electromagnetic impulses and forces and all their interferences and resonances, the most possible what happens, that immediately after thunderstorm, there is possible to see in crop or any orher field absolutely nothing, no one damaged and lodged (damaged, weakened) plant or stalk. Thanks to very slow motion of biological processes, metabolism in plants, many of them, even if totally dead, or badly damaged, many days after hit looks very similar and undistinguishable from that slightly affected even from that absolutely undamaged. Maybe after a week, possible to see differences in lenght. Dead plants do not grow, but still green, only smaller. Only after a much longer period they turn yellow, then brown, dry and fall apart. Damaged only but still alive plants also stopped growing and ripe evidently slower. Then clearly ripen more slowly, already will always be at least noticeable several days difference in size and speed of maturation from undamaged plants. More information on the section Anatomy (part of the page Biology), also many experiments there, photo, video.


Such a slow biologic processes in plants, that is the reason, why the only possible maker and author and deliquent and criminal, such a long time succesfully escaped and was not proved of guilty and hunted down. What's more, managed very successfully all the time fasten the blame on all sorts of another potential culprits in the area of ufo-tele-para-psycho-kine-teri-logi-pati-eso-extra-senzo-inter-gala-extra-tere-stela-super-natu-kvazi...lar, ral, tic, ric, gic and dozens of other doctrines and teachings, by serious science and any existing in the world realistically minded individual (there are in fact only a few of them) very rapidly rejected.


All that described (huge) mechanical and electromagnetic forces (also possible electrostatic, there were also huge electrostatic field, able not only to deflect grains or foils of electroscopes in "basic-school experiments", but also to "deflect" tons weighing trees, and break them like matches, or kill herds of cows or other cattle) only "exposed" some latent pictures in stalks, leafs and grains, and at first there had became only microscopic changes. All stalks, thanks to their still very good condition and flexibility, become very often staying up back (in seconds or less). Noticeable and measurable changes will become much more later. Very slow biochemical changes, also normal (slow) growing changes. After days, but more often weeks, all that microscopic changes (also present of harmful and toxic chemicals created by electrolysis there, and changes created by heat) will become to noticeable macroscopic changes, and really lowers flexibility, tensible and flexural strenght by tenths of percent. Just due to growing, all that previously absolute invisible changes become more and more visible and measurable. Damaged plants become more and more weak, "Migration Period" of harmful and toxic chemicals towards the roots is the cause of that the bottom sections of stalks (only a few centimeters under the ground) becomes the weakest, less flexible, very little resistant to bending. After such a long time (maybe several weeks), anyone amazed, crop stalks are still staying upright. This section is therefore the most susceptible to lodging (damaging, weakening), but plants are still standing, also thanks to the fact that partially support one another. While healthy plants withstand forces (eg wind) that greatly exceed an equivalent of their own weight, over time will weaken so much that already are not able almost to hold their own weight. The actual weight of corn plants, occupying one hectare, is depending on the type and stage of growth for a long time before reaching ripeness well over 50 tons. That means 5 kg/m2, and in the case of weakened plants that are still fading. Some days later...


The stalks are still staying upright, but everything is drawing to a close, absolutely most unpredictable and most crazy part of all. After such a long time of preparing, many weeks, becomes at first a process that may last only a hour or two, or several minutes -  very light rain, or the night - daybreak - morning pride, and during minutes the weight of every crop plant may be near doubled. That maybe increment round six grams per stalk (including leafs and spikes), really not much. But also means round 5 kg per sq. meter, and half a ton per are.


(10x10m, or circle diameter 11,2m; one ton per circle diameter 16m)

   - some Crop Circles are much larger...

All, really very weakened stalks still staying up, but many of them support each other.


And now is everything going to that really ending show, the most shocking part of Crop Circles forming, that lasts only minutes, or a little longer. During inaudible fanfare of nonexistent musicians, during applause of non-existent audience, accompanied by inaudible sounds and invisible flashing lights of nonexistent ceremonial fireworks, activated for instance only by a light breeze, or a maybe nothing like that (seemingly) - emerges the first visible effect, and the last cause of creation regular patterns in the crop, the first and only whose consequences will be really observable, that may happen only within a few minutes (several square meters within a few seconds). Only on that places, very accurately determined by that long time precedent all although complex, but very precise interferences and resonances, also other mechanic and electromagnetic effects, that appeared on the same place many weeks ago and nobody is able to remember it, just now is starting to proceed


The Domino Effect !!!

By the way, that "fireworks" really was present there, great amount of lights and earsplitting cracks, but sometime earlier - maybe many weeks - the thunderstorm and lightning...


Now, everything is ready for that ending, really great final:

After only a minimal, maybe absolute invisible first initiation or impulse (Butterfly, or only a few stalks, inclined to ground more than only a little, and carrying forward the others), sheafs of stalks becomes very quickly to fall down and start bending of all others to the ground. But only on that places, where "exposition" appeared. This is the real end of all that long, many weeks lasting procedures. Nobody remembers, what was really the first and the only one cause and when it happened. Howgh.


The lodging (damaging, weakening) appears really only on that places, that were "exposed" by lightning and interferences, long time ago, many weeks. That exposition, really similar to classic, mostly in the past century used, silver-halogenides photographics materials, during that only a latent picture appeared in crop. After that became a development (really very slow), using only a real nature physical - biochemic - chemical growing processes in crop plants, "developer", making oxide-reduction processes, growing biochemical processes in stalks and their weaking due to waste-products of electrolysis present there), and after all that becomes a "fixer", visualisation of the picture by the Domino Effect. Very interesting fact is that the "exposition" into the crop stalks (raster) on the field proceeded just due to very, very, very intensive "photographic flash" - lightning. (109-1014 more powerfull)


Possible to say, that any crop field works as a real, analog (means non-digital)recording material, able to record any (but huge) electromagnetic processes, that appeared just above it, also mechanic (but huge, too). That's good, such a material is very difficult possible to overexposure.


That paragraphs above looked a little like describing forming of Crop Circles only, or some other similar, only ordinary and symmetrical figures. But in fact there is described the principle of forming any other lodged (damaged, weakened) crop in the world. Absolutely identical process, but only forming and appearing of ordinary, symmetric, resonance and interference figures missing. Such an absolutely identical process forms round a millions times more "crop figures" in the world, absolute unsymmetrical, with the only one most common property: all of them appeared thanks to the electric energy supplied by the lightning discharge, and most of them appeared many days or weeks after that. Also very significant is the fact, that really very often such a way lodged (damaged, weakened) crop appears many weeks after thunderstorm and lightnings, during wonderful weather, for instance after a very weak rain or wind or pride of the morning or nothing like that (Butterfly...), and shocked farmers or any random observers are never able to imagine who was the real guilty, criminal deliquent, and they are trying to catch anybody else. That real will be never possible to catch him. Its velocity rounds between 1/3-2/3c. Such damaged crop is possible once forever to sacrifise all. Average damage will not oversize 10% of sown area. Reserved energy possible use for another purposes. Also possible to see note for agriculturists


Really: Most people round whole world are able, only by their own, find many such unsymmetrical figures every year, no need to leave home place more than odd kilometer, mostly 2km in a beeline.


Figures formed soon after thunderstorms also possible, see Possible, that in some of that cases, there "worked" two thunderstorms (and lightnings) exactly on that same place, the first lightning appeared some weeks before the second, only brought new ground for "next painting", had made a flat of several hectares with weakened crop, but not as weakened as to be lodged (damaged, weakened), even after weeks. The next lightning able to work much easier, and figures invoked by that may appear immediately or by hours.


Also possible, that very strong, abnormal and extraordinary lightnings are able to make figures in seconds. (sunflower march 2010 - Argentina)


And really observed (HOTY2008), that even after a "weak" lightning ("only" 6kA), but probably thanks to really heavy rain, cloud-burst following that lightning (several tenths milimeters of rainfal in the course of minutes) would be possible to be lodged (damaged, weakened) immediately a whole (more 90%) field of crop.

(rounding six hectares, barley).


Year 2008, 1.8km beeline from the lab-place, that lightning was able to watch and hear. Not more than two hours after the place visited, round 90% of 6ha field (barley) completely lodged (damaged, weakened). Local farmer confirmed, that before the storm there was no crop stalk lodged (damaged, weakened) on that field.


Similar pictures able to see in some Crop Circles books as an example of "classic lodging" (damaging, weakening). The wind is never able to cause something similar in a healthy crop, undamaged by the electricity and not weakened over time, it would be able only a genuine hurricane. About the truth of similar statement may convince himself every person, possible to try it on vegetation of any healthy, undamaged crop every year.


There never existed any "classic" lodging (damaging, weakening) in the world, for instance due to so called "weak resistance to lodging",  every lodging ever existed was, is and will be only "Crop Circles similar", lightning-made, but no Crop Circles appears there (more than a million times greater areas then Crop Circles in the world yearly). Some exceptions may appear (tornadoes, cyclones, hurricanes), but only proves the rule. Howgh.


Gallery of 117 lightning pictures from Chuck Doswell.

Very good photos, able to use Slideshow


Down here table: "complete characterization of negative cloud-to-ground lightning", the most common type of lightning - CG negative, from

Lightning: Physics and effects, Rakov, Uman, page 6

Cambridge University Press, 2003 (2007), ISBN 0521035414


Basic parameters of "normal, classic", average lightning (negative, cloud to ground).


Stepped leader
Step length Step length 50 m
Time interval between steps 20 - 50 μs
Step current >1 kA
Step charge >1 mC
Average propagation speed 200 klm / s
Overall duration 35 ms
Average current 100 - 200 A
Total charge 5 C
Electric potential ~ 50 MV
Channel temperature ~ 10.000 K
First Return Stroke based on measurements at the lightning channel base.
Peak current 30 kA
Maximum current rate of rise >10 - 20kA / μs
Current risetime (10 - 90 %) 5 μs
Current duration to half-peak value 70 - 80 μs
Charge transfer 5 C
Propagation speed 100 - 200.000 klm / s
Channel radius ~ 1 - 2 cm
Channel temperature ~ 30.000 K
Dart leader
Duration 1 - 2 ms
Charge 1 C
Current 1 kA
Electric potential ~ 15 MV
Speed 10 - 20.000 klm / s
Channel temperature ~ 20.000 K
Dart-stepped leader
Step length 10 m
Time interval between steps 5 - 10 μs
Average propagation speed 1 - 2.000 klm / s
Subsequent Return Stroke based on measurements at the lightning channel base.
Peak current 10 - 15 kA
Maximum current rate of rise 100kA / μs
10-90 percent current rate of rise 30-50 kA / μs
Current risetime (10-90 percent) 0.3 - 0.6 μs
Current duration to half-peak value 30 - 40 μs
Charge transfer 1 C
Propagation speed 100 - 200.000 klm / s
Channel radius ~ 1 - 2 cm
Channcl temperature ~ 30.000 K
Continuing current (longer ~ 40 ms) About 30 to 50% of lightnings contain currents durations longer than ~ 40 ms.
Magnitude 100 - 200 A
Duration ~ 100 ms
Charge transfer 10 - 20 C
M-component based on measurements at the lightning channel base.
Peak current 100 - 200 A
Current risetime (10-90 percent) 300 - 500 μs
Charge transfer 0.1 - 0.2 C
Overall flash
Duration 200-300 ms
Number of strokes per flash 3-5 (About 15 to 20 percent of lightning flashes are composed of a single stroke).
Interstroke interval 60 ms
Charge transfer 20 C
Energy 109 - 1010 J


If the discharge is alone, without lateral and parallel secondary discharges (very rarely) and sufficiently precisely perpendicular, compressive forces spread from it in the first moments rather accurately in a circle shape (electromagnetic in absolute precise circle shape at any time). But if it is not isolated, some discharge among themselves may create a very interesting interferences and resonances (probably mainly in still air, very rarely again). Some plants may not survive the amount of electricity, in the center of the discharge impact may sometimes be up to tens of percent dead plants, depending mainly on their vegetation age and state, height and humidity content. (No.1#1 - hit even during germination or just after), sometimes even less than mere percent, that may not be observable in the vegetation at all. There is absolutely impossible to find after a few weeks any remains of plants that did not survive in the vegetation (No.1#2), will result only as thinning. In the vegetation then occurs only something like slowly starting baldness.


The energy irradiated by even only an average lightning is 109 - 1010 Joules (such an amount of energy would drive a lot loaded freight train many kilometers), energy of some extraordinary, much above the average "Great Guys", which yields only a few per season, is at least hundred times, but also much more than thousand times larger (such an amount of energy would drive the same train merrily around the globe several times). As reported in many other areas of this web, despite the fact that some plants may be immediately afer the lightning dead, always takes at least several days, and in the rest of the crop, which has survived, although with serious damage, up to several weeks before on them would be observable any changes.




Interferences and reflections inside expanding air column

There are not described only a simple mechanical effects of dischargee

because the lightning discharge is always a combination of electromagnetic and mechanical effects, with enormous energy, with incredibly steep current rate of rise (gamma).


Complex fractal and interference patterns found sometimes in fields are very often characterized by one common, characteristic feature: they are situated inside a circle. One of the possibilities of their development is, that the first Return Stroke creates the first column of expanding air, inside which occurs then to one or more subsequent strokes. Mostly tend to be weaker than the first RS, but may not be as a rule, not in all cases. Above all, however, tend to have a significantly higher current rate of rise. The first RS - mostly less than 30 000 A/microsecond, subsequent strokes even more 200 000 A/microsecond. Average CG discharge current is approximately 30 000 amperes.


It is possible that regular interference patterns are created by extremely powerful discharges, well over half a million amperes. Within the expanding column of air that is created after the first discharge (equivalent to an explosion several hundred kilograms of TNT, spread evenly in the channel of lightning discharge), there may appear multiple rays reflection emitted by the subsequent stroke. Multiply reflected beams may create between themselves very complex interferences. Inside the expanding air column they can move very long time and considerable distance. Reflections are moving at light speed, air is moving in the order of a million times slower, ie in comparison with the speed of light almost zero speed. Although but nearly standing, it moves, even very low, but nonzero speed. Within the observation period (fractions of seconds to seconds) almost constant, or with approximately stable acceleration. May be negative, also exponential, may exhibit periodically varying progression, but for the basic considerations is sufficient constant. It can thus significantly contribute to the resulting interferences.


Inside the air column may also run through a number of subsequent discharges, all of which among themselves with each other may create interferences. A considerable part of energy can be induced and re-emited at phase interfaces plasma - air, standing air - moving air, diluted air - compressed air. Some or all of the described phase interfaces can be significantly electrically conductive, in the vertical projection on the surface they are concentric circles. During any subsequent discharge may be due to passing part of the current through, or by induction in them, into the plants, over which they exactly at that moment temporarily happen to be, "exposed" their immediate state (shape and position). The most significant portion of the energy, more 99% of the subsequent stroke is radiated during a time period of less than ten microseconds. During that time the air (margin of the expanding column), moving the speed of sound, traveled a distance of 3 mm. By that would be possible to explain occasional presence of very narrow circles in the patterns, that would not in growth create even a child, carrying through it.


What is probably happening inside the expanding column of air, if there take place subsequent strokes, was in the previous paragraph described as very simplified example. In fact, there is created after every subsequent stroke additional expanding plasma column inside the previous, and by far not all are concentric. Some subsequent strokes may carry along the edge of the expanding plasma column, created by the previous discharge, others can fall also outside it. Each of the described discharges creates around itself a huge electromagnetic field. There occur currents up to several hundred thousand amperes, the steepness rise up to several hundred thousand Amperes/microsecond. Generated magnetic fields may significantly affect all, What is happening inside temporarily created heavily ionized column of air. Magnetic field ( huge), created by simultaneously ongoing arms of one discharge, may create significant interferences between themselves (picture).


Inside the expanding air column mainly on the outer margin of the column (phase interface) may take place a total reflection of electromagnetic radiation beams, při vyhovujícím úhlu dopadu (větší než mezní). In a continuously varying environment inside the cylinder may beams bend and break. The pressure inside the column is not equally distributed, at some point in the middle is the highest and lowest on the edge, in another vice versa. Pressure and temperature inside the column is highly variable. The air inside is somewhere and sometimes heavily diluted, elsewhere in another time, in turn very heavily compressed. It reminds discharge tube, which is connected to the voltage up to several billion volts. Throughout that flows current sometimes almost near million amperes. It may even resemble a set of many discharge tubes, interconnected in various ways series parallel connection. It may even look like a system of discharge tubes, which does not occur in any technical practice - concentric cylinders of different pressure, from high vacuum to high pressure. In the perpendicular projection on the surface (crop field) they appear as concentric circles (pictures).


To verify possible interferences inside air column, it would be probably necessary to build a computer program, so obviously some work into the future, and will need to be contacted Great Programmer, which is not at all a cheap affair.


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This page was prepared, and all the facts and theories presented here were very thoroughly, closely and in detail experimentally examined by


Jan Ledecky


Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.  Robert A. Heinlein
They say marriages are made in  Heaven.  But  so is thunder and lightning. Clint Eastwood
Objects  can  be  classified  scientifically into three major categories: those that don't work, those that break down and those that get lost. Russell Baker