by Bill Parker
In 1752 Benjamin Franklin demonstrated with his famous kite experiment that lightning is electricity. Lightning occurs when electricity travels between areas of opposite electrical charge within a cloud, between clouds, or from a cloud to the ground. During a thunderstorm, lightning flashes when the attraction between positive and negative charges becomes strong enough to overcome the air’s high resistance to electrical flow. When a lightning bolt flashes through the sky we see it instantly. Thunder – the sound lightning creates – takes a few seconds longer to reach our hearing. Lightning heats the air to more than 43,000 degrees Fahrenheit, causing air to expand very rapidly and then to contract quickly, making sound waves we hear as thunder.
When visitors touch the Lightning Tube, the electrical current is drawn towards the point of contact in order to find the most direct pathway to the ground. The voltage is not high enough to be felt, but creates beautiful moving light patterns.