The Hidden Power In Lightning
One Bolt Of Lightning Produces
More Electricity Than The USA
At night, in heavy rain, the sky is suddenly lit up, followed shortly after by a violent noise. Do you know how the magnificent lightning that so illuminates the sky comes about? Do you know how much light it emits? Or how much heat it gives off?
A flash of lightning is the bright light which forms during the release of the electricity in the atmosphere during rainstorms. But when does this bright light form? Lightning can happen when electrical tension in two separate points in the atmosphere—within a single cloud, or between a cloud and the ground, or between two grounds—reaches a high level.
Light bolts happen in the form of at least two strikes. In the first release a negative (-) charge flows from the cloud to the ground. This is not a particularly bright flash. A number of branches can generally be seen spreading out from the main channel. As this first strike reaches the ground, an opposite charge forms at the point it will hit and a second positive charge-bearing current forms from within that same channel directly to the cloud. The two flashes generally meet about 50 metres above the ground. A short circuit forms at the conjunction between the cloud and the ground, as a result of which a very bright strong electric current heads from inside the channel to the cloud. The potential difference in this current between the cloud and the ground is greater than several million volts.
More Electricity Production
Than Thousands of Generating Stations
The energy given off by a single bolt of lightning is greater than that produced in all the electricity generating stations in America. The temperature in the channel where the lightning forms can be as high as 10,000 degrees Celsius. The temperature in kilns for melting iron is between 1,050 and 1,100 degrees. The heat given off by the smallest bolt of lightning is ten times this. This terrible heat means that lightning can easily burn and destroy all the elements on Earth. To make another comparison, the surface temperature of the Sun is as much as 700,000 degrees. In other words, the temperature of lightning is 1/70th of that of the surface of the Sun. The light emitted by lightning is greater than that given off by 10 million 100-watt bulbs. For purposes of comparison, a single lightning bolt illuminates its surroundings more than if one bulb is lit in every house in Istanbul. Allah draws attention to this wondrous brightness of lightning in the Qur'an,
. . . The brightness of His lightning almost blinds the sight. (Surat an-Nur: 43)
Splendour Which Arises
In Half A Second
•An average streak of lightning can power a 100-watt bulb for more than 3 months.
•The air temperature where lightning strikes rises by as much as 25,000 degrees.
•It travels at 150,000 km/second. Lightning's average thickness is 2.5-5 cm.
•Lightning produces nitrogen molecules, which are important for the survival of the Earth's vegetation cover.
•An average lightning strike contains an electrical force of 20,000 amps. A welder uses 250-400 amps to weld steel.
•Lightning moves at 150,000 km/second, or half the speed of light, and 100,000 times faster than sound.
The bolt which forms descends to earth very rapidly, at 96,000 kmph. The first strike reaches the conjunction or surface in 20 milliseconds, and the return strike returns to the cloud in 70 microseconds. Lightning lasts a total of up to half a second. The reason for the thunder which accompanies it stems from the sudden heating of the air around the channel. As a result of this, the air expands at a speed greater than that of sound, although the shock wave returns to being a normal sound wave within a few metres. The sound waves are formed according to the later atmospheric air and surface shapes. That is the reason for consecutive thunder and lightning.
When we bear all of these properties of lightning in mind we can see that this phenomenon is a miraculous one. The way that such a tremendous force emerges from positively and negatively charged particles, invisible to the naked eye, shows that lightning is consciously created. Furthermore, the fact that nitrogen molecules, so beneficial to plants, emerge from this force again proves that lightning was created with a particular wisdom. (For details see Harun Yahya, Design in Nature, Taha Publishers, UK, 2001.)
Allah specifically draws our attention to lightning in the Qur'an. The meaning of Surat ar-Rad, one of the Suras of the Qur'an, is actually 'Thunder.' In those verses regarding lightning Allah reveals that He presents lightning to people as a source of fear and hope. Indeed, a lightning strike is a sign that it is about to rain, and rain either brings hope, in the form of plentiful crops, or else frightens people by causing such disasters as flooding or landslides. In Surat ar-Rum Allah reveals that,
Among His Signs is that He shows you lightning, a source of fear and eager hope, and sends down water from the sky, bringing the dead earth back to life by it. There are certainly Signs in that for people who use their intellect. (Surat ar-Rum: 24)
Allah has also revealed that the thunder which arises when lightning strikes glorifies His praise. In that same verse He warns people by stating that when He so wishes He sends lightning to punish unbelievers:
The thunder glorifies His praise, as do the angels, out of fear of Him. He discharges the thunderbolts, striking with them anyone He wills. Yet still they argue about Allah when He is inexorable in His power! (Surat ar-Ra'd:13)
Allah has created a number of signs for us in lightning. We must think and give thanks that thunder, which many people have perhaps never considered in this much detail and which inspires such feelings of fear and hope in man, is a means by which fear of Allah increases and is sent down by Him for specific purposes when He so chooses.