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Episode 51: Mysterious Ball Lightning with Karl Stephan: Newsroom: Texas State University

Charles Stephen

Charles Stephen

from Texas State University Charles Stephena professor at the Ingram School of Engineering, joins the Big Ideas TXST podcast to discuss his research into the mysterious phenomenon of ball lightning.

A poorly understood natural phenomenon, ball lightning, has been reported throughout history. The glowing orbs range in size from a pea to a basketball and can appear in different colors, transparent or translucent. Ball lightning has been reported at ground level and from aircraft. The orbs, unlike the brief flash of traditional lightning, can last for many seconds and can float, rise, fall or move against the wind in unpredictable ways. No satisfactory hypothesis has been described about the cause of ball lightning, and researchers have yet to successfully recreate it under laboratory conditions.

Stephan joined the TXST faculty in 2000 after an extended period of teaching at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He received his Master of Engineering degree from Cornell University in 1977 and his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983.

Big Ideas TXST is part of the TXST Podcast Network.