Department of Physics

Department News

Physics Seminar on Thursday Feb. 4, 2010 on the Physics of Lightning.

Feb 2, 2010

The Physics of Lightning

Speaker: Professor Christopher Fasano
Date: February 4, 2010 (Thursday)
Time: 4 PM
Room: 205 Currens Hall


Lightning, the massive dielectric breakdown of the atmosphere that occurs during thunderstorms, is a dramatic process that demands study and explanation. The mechanisms that cause lightning and the mechanisms by which lightning proceed are complex and still areas of active study. In fact, understanding lightning is considered one of the great-unsolved problems of atmospheric physics. In this talk, I will discuss our understanding of how lightning forms as well as a particularly intriguing feature of lighting-- the production of X-rays by lightning (verified experimentally only recently). I will also describe a proposal we have made to measure the energy spectrum of natural lightning while recording data on electric field strength and meteorological data. Knowing and understanding this energy spectrum will play an important role in understanding the process by which lightning is produced and proceeds. It will also allow testing of a variety of models that have been suggested for producing lightning and for producing X-rays.

About the speaker:
Professor Christopher Fasano is a professor and the Chair of department of physics, Monmouth College. He is a computational physicist with research interests in the area of scattering and particle production processes in light nuclei. Professor Fasano's current research focuses on modeling of protein folding, severe storms and wind flow.