A brace of months ago, BAbloggee Henrik Magnus Ulriksen beatific me a articulation to a video of a billow that bluntly larboard me — har har — agee in the wind. Back I saw it, I had the able activity it was authentic; taken with a hand-held camera, it doesn’t attending acutely faked. But what it shows is actual odd indeed.
The video is of a cumulonimbus cloud, a billowy white cauliflower-shaped billow that forms back balmy air rises rapidly. The camera appearance is amid two buildings, and you can see the billowy billow top aloof beneath the centermost of the frame. Keep your eye on the little wisp of billow aloof aloft the cumulonimbus, appropriate in the average of the frame.
Did you see it? If it helps, the account actuality shows you area to look. Starting at 9 abnormal in, that little wisp aback snaps into a new shape, as if addition had chock-full the video, waited for the billow to change, afresh started up the video again. But it’s bright that’s not what’s activity on; the video is bland with no transitions.
Assuming the video is real, I had a base suspicion it had to do with the electric currents generated central the cloud, the aforementioned currents that actualize lightning. Clouds can backpack huge electric potentials — essentially, the adeptness to move accuse about — and that stored activity can be aback released, creating lightning. Back that happens, the electric acreage resets itself, and starts to abundance up activity again.
But I had no clue how that would accomplish the billow arise to ball like that!
As it happens, by coincidence, I met Joel Gratz at the TEDxBoulder allocution in September. Joel is a astrologer who runs websites like Open Snow and Colorado Powder Forecast. I beatific him the video, and abiding abundant a abbreviate while after he had a acknowledgment for me.
Joel had beatific the video to Walter Lyons, a astrologer from WeatherVideoHD, who was able to analyze this phenomenon. Here’s his reply:
The acknowledgment lies in this: ice crystals, abnormally continued needles, tend to become accumbent with the ambient electric field.
So what you are seeing is sunlight absorption off ice clear faces that are consistently actuality aggressive by the developing electric acreage aloof aloft the [cumulonimbus] top. Afresh there is a acquittal in the cloud, and the acreage collapses momentarily, and the crystals activate to realign again. Afresh this aloof keeps accident over and over.
Aha! I hadn’t anticipation of that. The alien apparent of ice crystals can authority a changeless electric charge, agnate to what happens back you rub a bottle rod with a cloth, or rub a airship on your beard and stick it to the wall. Back placed in an electric field, the accuse feel a force on them, and adjust themselves forth the field. So all the ice crystals aloft that billow top are accumbent one way in the field. Afresh the acreage snaps (maybe due to lightning absolution the energy) and afresh reforms. The ice crystals change their acclimatization aback back that happens.
So why does it attending like the absolute appearance is changing? That’s because ice crystals can act like little prisms, bend ablaze back it passes through them (or they can act like mirrors, with ablaze absorption off their collapsed surfaces). Back they float in the air you get all sorts of alarming and admirable formations like sun dogs, halos, sun pillars, and more. These all depend on the bend amid you, the Sun, and the acclimatization of the clear in between.
[UPDATE: Bill Beatty has added videos of this phenomenon. Thanks to @MattTheTube for the tip.]
In this case, some of the ice crystals are bend ablaze against the camera, and back the acreage snaps they adapt themselves. Anticipate of them like little flashlights, some acicular at you, some away. Back the acreage changes, they all turn, so altered ones are acicular at you, and ones that were acicular at you are now affronted away. That’s what happens back the acreage aback changes. The all-embracing appearance of the billow hasn’t changed; you’re aloof seeing the ablaze advancing from it differently!
I appetite to booty a moment actuality and broadcast the actuality that this is one of the coolest things I accept anytime heard. That video is absolutely camp (I’ve apparent added than one website — the affectionate that talks about “chemtrails” actively — touting it as some array of government conspiracy), It shows article I had never apparent before, or alike dreamed of. Mind you, I’m appealing accustomed with the sky; I absorb a lot of time attractive at it. So this was appealing weird. Afresh to get an account that is not only, to me, acutely correct, but additionally so simple, so clean, and so wonderful… well, that’s one of the things I adulation best about science.
Some bodies anticipate that science takes abroad the adorableness and admiration of the world, but it doesn’t. It adds to it. It takes article we don’t accept and turns it into article we do. Instead of spinning cabal theories, we can use science to advice us assemble a added accurate, added complete, and added accurate appearance of the Universe.
And yes, added admirable as well. I’ll booty the adorableness of accuracy any day of the week. Alike a blurred one.
– Science Fare– The burden of active on a spinning planet– The anchor of an affronted cloud– What I abstruse from Carl Sagan
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