Tiny Australia bird stalls divisive coal mine project

A tiny finch flew into the centre of Australia's bitter environmental politics Friday when local authorities blocked the construction of a contentious coal mine until the rare bird is protected.

Lightning hits Acropolis in Greece injuring 4, site intact

A lightning bolt struck the Acropolis in Athens during a rainstorm Wednesday, lightly injuring two visitors and two guards but causing no damage to the country's most famous ancient site, Greek officials said.

Transmit your sound recording from Mars to the Earth

An exciting new competition is giving citizens of planet Earth the opportunity to get their voices to Mars in the next phase of the ExoMars programme. The ExoMars rover and platform will launch to the Red Planet in 2020.

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Lightning

Lightning is an atmospheric discharge of electricity accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms, and sometimes during volcanic eruptions or dust storms. In the atmospheric electrical discharge, a leader of a bolt of lightning can travel at speeds of 60,000 m/s (130,000 mph), and can reach temperatures approaching 30,000 °C (54,000 °F), hot enough to fuse silica sand into glass channels known as fulgurites which are normally hollow and can extend some distance into the ground. There are some 16 million lightning storms in the world every year.

Lightning can also occur within the ash clouds from volcanic eruptions, or can be caused by violent forest fires which generate sufficient dust to create a static charge.

How lightning initially forms is still a matter of debate: Scientists have studied root causes ranging from atmospheric perturbations (wind, humidity, friction, and atmospheric pressure) to the impact of solar wind and accumulation of charged solar particles. Ice inside a cloud is thought to be a key element in lightning development, and may cause a forcible separation of positive and negative charges within the cloud, thus assisting in the formation of lightning.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA