Re: FWD (IUFO) balls of light

From: Terry W. Colvin (
Date: Sat Jul 01 2000 - 09:01:31 MDT

Another not well understood natural phenomenon that contributes to the chaos
and confusion of reported UFOs.

After rummaging through books, magazines, clippings, etc. I've found a few
more ball lightning references. These vary from the academic to the

[1] *Space-Time Transients and Unusual Events*, 1977, by Michael A.
Persinger and Gyslaine F. Lafrenie(`)re. Nelson-Hall Inc., 325 West Jackson
Chicago, Illinois 60606. ISBN 0-88229-334-6 (hardback), ISBN 0-88229-462-8
(paperback). A general phenomena book using statistical analysis; only
Chapters 6 and 8, Unusual and Infrequent Astronomical Events, and Unusual and
Infrequent Meteorological Events, resp., have a bearing on BL.

[2] *The Nature of Light & Colour in the Open Air*, 1954, by M. Minnaert.
Dover Publications Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014. A review and

explanation of atmospheric phenomena, "mirages, haloes, shadows, double
rainbows...hundreds of other phenomena visible with the naked
eye...explained by a famous physicist" as written on the jacket blurb.

[3] *Final Report of the Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects*
conducted by the University of Colorado under contract to the United States
Air Force, Dr. Edward U. Condon, Scientific Director. Research supported by
the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Office of Aerospace Research, USAF,
under contract F44620-67-C-0035. Daniel S. Gillmor, Editor, 1968, with an
introduction by Walter Sullivan of *The New York Times*. My paperback
edition is 965 closely printed pages. Discussion of ball lightning and related
phenomena occurs on pages 681-682, 723, 729, 732-733, and 735-750.
References and Notes
Section 7: Surveys of ball lightning are:
1. Preliminary Report on Ball Lightning, J. Rand McNally, Jr.; Second Annual
   Meeting, Div. of Plasma Phys., Amer. Phys. Soc., Gatlinburg, Tenn.
   Nov 2-5,1960.
2. Ball Lightning Characteristics, Warren D. Rayle: NASA TN D-3188,
3. Ball Lightning, James Dale Barry: Master's Thesis, California State
   College, 1966.
4. Ball Lightning, J. Dale Barry: Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial
   Physics, vol. 29, p. 1095, 1967.
Bibliographies of earlier ball lightning work:
5. Ball Lightning Bibliography 1950-1960: Science and Technology Division,
   Library of Congress, 1961.
6. Ball Lightning (A Collection of Soviet Research in English Translation),
   Donald J. Ritchie (editor): Consultants Bureau, New York, 1961.
A theory based on standing microwave patterns is given in:
7. The Nature of Ball Lightning, P. L. Kapitsa: in Ball Lightning, Consultants
   Bureau, N.Y., 1961 (Doklady Akademii Nauk SSSR, vol. 101, p. 245, 1955).
8. Ball Lightning, David Finkelstein and Julio Rubinstein: Physical Review,
   vol. 135, p. A390, 1964.
9. A Theory of Ball Lightning, Martin A. Uman and Carl W. Helstrom: Journal
   of Geophysical Research, vol. 71, p. 1975, 1966.
Theories based on magnetic containment are given by:
10. Ball Lightning and Self-Containing Electromagnetic Fields, Philip O.
   Johnson: American Journal of Physics, vol. 33, p. 119, 1965.
11. Ball Lightning, E. R. Wooding: Nature, vol. 199, p. 272, 1963.
12. On Magnetohydrodynamical Equilibrium Configurations, V. D. Shafranov:
  in Ball Lightning, Consultants Bureau, N.Y., 1961 (Zhurnal Eksperimentalnoi
  i Teoreticheskoi Fiziki, vol. 37, p. 224, 1959.
13. Magneto-Vortex Rings, Yu. P. Ladikov: in Ball Lightning, Consultants
  Bureau, N.Y., 1961 (Izvestiya Akademii Nauk SSSR, Mekhanika i
  Mashinostroyenie, No. 4, p. 7, July-Aug., 1960).
A theory of ball lightning as a miniature thundercloud is given in:
14. Ball Lightning as a Physical Phenomenon, E. L. Hill: Journal of
  Geophysical Research, vol. 65, p. 1947, 1960.
The creation of ball lightning by man-made devices is discussed in:
15. Ball Lightning and Plasmoids, Paul A. Silberg: Journal of Geophysical
  Research, vol. 67, p. 4941, 1962.
Ball lightning as burning hydrocarbon is discussed in:
16. Laboratory Ball Lightning, J. Dale Barry, Journal of Terrestrial
Physics, vol. 30, p. 313. 1968.
A skeptical view of ball lightning theories is given in:
17. Attempted Explanations of Ball Lightning, Edmond M. Dewan: Physical
  Sciences Research Paper #67, AFCRL-64-927, November, 1964.
An elementary review of ball lightning is:
18. Ball Lightning, H. W. Lewis: Scientific American, March, 1963.
The first eyewitness account presented in this review is found in:
19. The Nature of Ball Lightning, G. I. Kogan-Beletskii: in Ball Lightning,
  Consultants Bureau, N.Y., 1961 (Prioroda, No. 4, p. 71, 1957).
Eyewitness accounts 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and many others even more incredible are
found in:
20. Eyewitness Accounts of Kugelblitz, Edmond M. Dewan: CRD-25, (Air Force
  Cambridge Research Laboratories) March, 1964.
Account 4 concerns a photograph taken by Robert J. Childerhose of the RCAF.
The description is found in the book by Klass, which is cited below.
The strange case in St. Petersburg, Florida is discussed in:
21. Theory of the Lightning Balls and Its Application to the Atmospheric
  Phenomenon Called "Flying Saucers," Carl Benedicks: Arkiv for Geofysik
  (Sweden), vol. 2, p. 1, 1954.

[4] *Book of the Damned*, 1919 and 1940, by Charles Hoy Fort.
1. pp. 273-274: In *Nature*, 37-187, and *L'Astronomie*, 1887-76, we are
told that an object, described as "a large ball of fire," was seen to rise from
the sea, near Cape Race. We are told that it rose to a height of fifty feet, and
then advanced close to the ship, then moving away, remaining visible about
five minutes. The supposition in *Nature* is that it was "ball lightning," but
Flammarion, *Thunder and Lightning*, p. 68, says that it was enormous.
Details in the American *Meteorological Journal*, 6-443--Nov. 12, 1887--British
steamer *Siberian*--that the object had moved "against the wind" before
retreating--that Captain Moore said that at about the same place he had seen
such appearances before. *Report of the British Association*, 1861-30: That,
upon June 18, 1845, according to the *Malta Times*, from the brig *Victoria*,
about 900 miles east of Adalia, Asia Minor (36 degrees, 40 minutes, 56 seconds,
N. Lat.: 13
degrees, 44 minutes, 36 seconds E. Long.), three luminous bodies were seen to
issue from the sea, at about half a mile from the vessel. They were visible
about ten minutes.
2. "As to what ball lightning is, we have not yet begun to make intelligent
guesses." (*Monthly Weather Review*, 34-17.)
  In general, it seems to me that when we encounter the opposition [to]
"ball lightning" we should pay little attention, but confine ourselves to
that are at least intelligent, that stand phantom-like in our way. We note
here that in some of our acceptances upon intelligence we should more clearly
have pointed out that they were upon the intelligent as opposed to the
In the *Monthly Weather Review*, 33-409, there is an account of "ball
lightning" that struck a tree. It made a dent such as a falling object would
make. Some other time I shall collect instances of "ball lightning," to
express that they are instances of objects that have fallen from the sky,
luminously, exploding terrifically. So bewildered is the old orthodoxy by these
phenomena that many scientists have either denied "ball lightning" or have
considered it very doubtful. I refer to Dr. Sestier's list of one hundred and
fifty instances, which he considered authentic.

[5] *Flying Saucer Review*, London, United Kingdom.
1. Vol. 10, No. 5, September-October 1964, pp. 14-15, "A Note on Fireballs."
2. Vol. 14, No. 4, July-August 1968, p. 35, "All Fireballs?".
3. Vol. 15, No. 1, January-February 1969, pp. 25-26, "UFOs And Ball
4. Vol. 18, No. 3, May-June 1972, pp. 23-24, "Some Thoughts on 'Thinking
     I quote from the introductory paragraph of item [5]1.:
  Readers of Dr. Menzel's latest book, *The World of Flying Saucers* will
recall that the author attempted to explain one mystery (UFOs) in terms of
(fireballs). It would seem that the latter subject has attracted as little
scientific attention as the former. Indeed, if one takes a close look at the
history of fireballs one is almost persuaded that their behaviour resembles
that of the Foo Fighters of the 1939-1945 war. Even Dr. Menzel had to admit
that scientists knew very little about fireballs, though he was prepared to
invoke them as conventionalisations for flying saucers. The saucer student
could equally well reverse the process and claim that what was known as a
fireball in the past was in fact the flying saucer of today.

     The 21 references in [3] above are the more academic while all else is
anecdotal. While not exhaustive these references are some of the more
unknown to most students of ball lightning. I'm sure other references exist in
specialty (a.k.a. fringe science) magazines; however, little to no indexing
makes it difficult to find ball lightning "stuff" when mixed in with
luminous, atmospheric, meteorological, and UFO phenomena. That will be the focus
of my next search.


"No editor ever likes the way a story tastes unless he pees
in it first." -Mark Twain

Randy Smith wrote:
> YEs, this is a fascinating area. My aunt, now retired, and a hard-nosed
> type, a former senior vice president of a major bank, saw a "ufo" up close
> about 30 years ago in San Antonio. It was in her kitchen! It came in through
> the window as an orange ball, baseball-sized, and floated above the stove
> and then popped.
> I have read some interesting theories re this type of UFO when it comes to
> ball lightning, plasma and vortices.
> Strangely enough I have heard some theories re this type of UFO and the
> creation of the crop circles by means of ball lightning.
> Also, there are some recurrent UFOs in Northern Norway that have been
> attributed in theory to large flocks of flying insects that glow due to some
> not yet understood electrical phenomena.
> ________________________________________________________________________
> Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at

Terry W. Colvin, Sierra Vista, Arizona (USA)
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