Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about lightning. From time to time, we hear some miraculous news about people who have just survived the fourth lightning strike, but other than that, lightning may not have that much effect in your daily life. Unless, that is, you work in aerospace, radio, or many other industries that have to deal with their destructive effects.
Since the mid-1700s, Ben Franklin conducted the legendary kite experiment, and humans have been trying to protect things from lightning. He created the first lightning rod, an iron rod with a brass tip. He speculated that the conductor would draw charges from the thundercloud, and he was right. Since then, there has been no rapid development in the field of lightning rod design. Essentially, they are still a metal rod that can attract lightning strikes and divert energy safely to the earth. As Ben Franklin did for the first time in the 1700s, they are still installed on buildings today to prevent lightning strikes and do a good job. Although this is very effective for most structures (such as your house), in some cases, tall metal rods won’t cut it.
Passive lightning protection (and radioactive option)
Sometimes, the thing you want to protect is a tall metal pole. Radio towers are excellent lightning rods, and it is difficult to guarantee that clouds will choose to release their suppressed electrons on nearby poles rather than on the tower itself. The type of lightning protection used on the tower or antenna depends on the application-many amateur radio operators use lightning arresters to protect their equipment. These are small boxes that act as antenna feeder paths. They are directly grounded and are designed to provide a fast path to the earth for all additional charging in the event of lightning strikes the antenna.
Many of us also have backup systems—such as automatically disconnecting antennas—to prevent some excess energy from “leaking” through lightning arresters. All of this is to protect the expensive equipment in the shed, not the antenna itself, and you may need to replace the antenna after a direct lightning strike. What if we want to completely prevent lightning strikes?
Well, the traditional lightning rod Do help. A properly installed lightning protection system (LPS) can reduce the chance of an antenna or tower being hit by providing many attractive targets and bolts can be hit safely. Scientists are even trying to find ways to make these alternative targets more attractive.
Back in the early 1900s, It is thought that tapping a bit of radioactive material on the top of the pole will help attract lightning. The idea is that radioactive materials will partially ionize the surrounding air, making the area more attractive. Some countries adopted them in the 1970s, but soon discovered that in practice, they were not as effective as theories dictated. Compared with traditional varieties, there is not enough significant improvement, especially considering the obvious health and safety complications that may be caused by stray radioactive sources. By 1990, many countries had banned sales, and production has since been discontinued.
Regardless of whether it is radioactive or not, the lightning protection system will become cumbersome. Take the airport as an example. If we want to protect the aircraft during takeoff and landing, we need to cover a huge area with lightning rods and grounding wires…a huge area where the aircraft cannot pass, and the reason is obvious.
Light up the road
A recently published paper may provide another option.It details The Laser Lightning Rod (LLR) project, as the name suggests, aims to use a beam of light to make lightning rods. Essentially, an extremely powerful laser points to the sky, intersecting with traditional lightning rods along the way. The light beam ionizes the air in its volume, forming a kind of “wire” that guides lightning strikes into the lightning rod. The LLR team has proposed a system for protecting buildings, rockets and airports, and even speculates that a series of lasers can be used around the airport to protect large areas (of course, the lasers can be selectively turned off when the aircraft approaches).The laser in question is a complex system that produces seeds from the burst of transmitters Built by TRUMPFThe beam is amplified to about 800W, the pulse frequency is 1kHz, and each pulse lasts about 1ps.The absolute maximum power of the system is not given, but The head of the team, Jean-Pierre Wolf, told CNN that “a single pulse of peak power is equal to the pulses produced by all nuclear power plants in the world.” ——This may sound like a slight Exaggerated, but I couldn’t find the exact number in the paper.
The team has built a prototype of the system and deployed it on a communications tower on the summit of Säntis, the highest mountain in the Swiss Alps. Unsurprisingly, the tall metal structure of the highest mountain in the region is no stranger to lightning strikes. In fact, it is hit about 100 times a year on average.
The LLR team has achieved amazing results 29 tons of material equipment To the top of the mountain (sounds familiar? Look Recent hacking challenges on Twitter). After about two weeks of setup and testing, the laser is ready. In mid-July, the first batch of experiments started, and the team expects that some numbers will need to be processed at the end of the experiment sometime in September. At the same time, they just want some bad weather.
For the vast majority of lightning protection needs today, high-power lasers may be a bit too much (unless you are building the safest amateur radio cabin in the world, with millions of dollars, and can convince the local government to let you in the sky) but This research is undoubtedly very interesting. After all, when you add the laser to the mixture, is there anything that doesn’t immediately cool down? We have even seen laser headlights! As with many new technologies, we will pay close attention to this technology (of course, with proper laser safety goggles) and look forward to one day, instead of sounding like the weather control matrix in Star Trek, it becomes a viable and even possible Ubiquitous lightning protection system.