Ball Lightning Experiments Produce UFOsThe last place most people would try to start a fire is inside a tornado. But two researchers who have pulled off a similar trick in a lab in New Zealand say their experiment may explain enigmatic weather phenomena such as ball lightning.
[TNT headline: All fired up]
At first glance, tornadoes don't appear fire-friendly. Even at the calm centre of the whirlwind, there is enough of an updraft to make any flame tenuous, and the fast winds at its edge would blow out any blaze.
Yet fireballs have been reported in some tornadoes, such as the twister that struck Dorset in Britain in 1989. Vortices have also been associated with floating spheres of ball lightning, which sometimes disappear with a loud explosion, suggesting they, too, contain combustible material.
So John Abrahamson, a chemical engineer at Canterbury University in Christ- church, was intrigued when his former student Peter Coleman proposed trying to create a fireball in a mini tornado. They reckoned one might form in the vortex breakdown region, where air moves relatively slowly. "If it was coloured, you'd see this doughnut of air," says Abrahamson.
Intriguingly, the vortex breakdown region is used in "vortex burners", in which a flame burns in a closed, horizontal cylinder. A horizontal vortex mixes and contains hot gases so that the fuel burns efficiently. But it was unclear if the combustion would be stable in a free-standing, vertical vortex.
To find out, Abrahamson and Coleman built a circular chamber about a metre wide. Slats at the base allowed air to enter at various angles and an extraction fan pulled air upwards from above. This created a vortex 10 centimetres wide. Liquefied petroleum gas was introduced into the breakdown region through a pipe and was ignited with a spark plug.
The vortex produced a stable fireball if the air entered at an angle of 66 degrees. Whether the fuel pipe was above, below or to the side of the vortex breakdown region, the fuel was drawn into the doughnut of air and burnt as a sphere.
CAPTION: This was produced in a specialised combustion chamber with air flowing in through vanes at the bottom to create a vortex. The fuel gas is LPG. The gas is burning within the vortex environment. The confined vortex coupled with the burning gas is experimental. One would expect to see an unconfined vortex burning and moving at the same time. These vortex fireballs can get larger up to several meters in diameter. It is this phenomenon that the author is proposing to explain UFO fireballs, ball lightning and some anomalous meteors.
Abrahamson concludes that if a natural vortex swept up fuel from the ground, and if something like a lightning strike or power line ignited it, this could form a stable fireball. His experiment will be described next month at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Boston.
"There are many theories about ball lightning, but not many of them can be studied so thoroughly in a lab as this one," notes Stanley Singer, president of the International Committee on Ball Lightning in Pasadena, California. However, he adds that some reports suggest ball lightning can pass through solid objects--something that is hard to reconcile with a combustion theory.
Abrahamson points out that many of those reports have been called into question. Even if his experiment fails to explain meteorological mysteries, he believes it may find uses in industry. "I don't think anyone has ever created a vortex to control an open flame before. It could be useful." The experiment could even explain some UFOs, adds Coleman. "Some pictures of supposed UFOs I've seen look like classic fireballs."
[Source: Nando News / By Philip Cohen - May 26 1999 ]
New Zealander First To Explain UFOsFor centuries unexplained lights have appeared in the night sky with no suitable theory though many have been advanced. A New Zealander is claiming he was the first to successfully explain the mystery lights commonly called "UFOs" with a unified theory. These are the hard-to-explain UFO cases. Author and researcher Peter Coleman has revealed the real science behind these unexplained UFO fireballs.
His unified theory not only explains these UFO chariots of fire but in one sweeping theory ball lightning, the Tunguska "meteor", the Kaikoura UFOs, the Australian Min mins, the will o' the wisp and several other events are accounted for. Not content with theory he has actually created the fireballs in the laboratory and published the results in a 1999 Spring issue of EOS Transactions a publication of the American Geological Union.
His theory first appeared in 1993 in Weather (publication of Royal Meteorological Society of the UK) and in New Scientist 22 May, 1999. He has since written two books Ball Lightning-a scientific mystery explained (limited edition) that challenges the idea that ball lightning is an unsolved problem especially the book by Mark Stenhoff called Ball Lightning- an unsolved problem. Peter's latest book is Great Balls of Fire-A unified theory of UFOs, ball lightning, Tunguska and other anomalous lights is expected to be available sometime this year.
The key idea is that many UFO reports are actually luminous vortices. Only vortices have the power and unpredictibility to account for extreme events. Couple this to the idea that a vortex is actually on fire in a spheroidal zone of vortex breakdown and you have a potent formula that will explain many puzzling lights.
Vortex breakdown is the essential element. The low air speeds in this region enable a combustion flame to survive amidst the surrounding high speed air streams. Imagine seeing such a vortex at night all that you would see would be the fireball region moving around in seemingly unpredictable fashion and against the wind!
That such atmospheric vortex burners should exist is indisputable and first postulated by Coleman. The whole concept is firmly based on known ideas and results in science. Coleman believes that a correct solution could not have eventuated prior to 1957 simply because vortex breakdown was discovered in 1957 on the leading edge of model wings of planes.
The speculation and confirmnation that naturally occurring vortices should exhibit vortex breakdown would have have come later. Vortex breakdown has been seen in tornadoes only relatively recently by Pauley and Snow in 1988. Reports in early meteorological literature testify that such vortex burners exist. Collectively there is now sufficient evidence in favour of this unified theory.
Dr Stanley Singer a ball litghtning researcher, retired Professor Karl Nickel, Russian Scientists such as Marina Pankova and now a prominent scientist and physicist Bernard Haisch thinks that the theory may explain some UFOs.
Peter F Coleman, 75 Wychbury St, Christchurch, NZ.
[Source: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/SC0403/S00064.htm - 17 March 2004]