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Lightning Some fear it others like it In either case lightning is both dazzling and dangerous It is hotter than the surface of the sun A single bolt can travel as fast as sixty-thousand miles per second churning up temperatures of fifty-five thousand degrees F five times hotter than the suns surface and producing in one instant more electricity than all the public and private utilities in the United States combined can turn out during the same second Ingersoll In the United States lightning kills more than one-hundred people each year Borg 6 In times past lightning was thought to come from divine sources The Greeks believed that lightning was hurled by the god Zeus The Vikings thought Thor caused lightning when his hammer struck an anvil as he rode his chariot across the clouds Christian and McCook Today though we know that lightning is neither hurled from godly hands nor struck from a supernatural anvil a lot of mystery still surrounds one of our most awesome natural light shows However studying lightning today is as dangerous as it was when Benjamin Franklin flew his kite in an electric storm 250 years ago It is only in the past fifty years as technology has developed that scientists have been able to uncover the secrets behind this powerful and deadly phenomenon To understand lightning we need to know a little bit about electricity For lightning is indeed a very powerful source of electricity The type we never want to come into close personal contact with Every object is made up of smaller parts called molecules which are in turn made up of atoms Atoms are formed by even tinier particles called protons and electrons The simplest atom has one proton with one electron orbiting around the proton just as our Earth does the sun If an atom has an excess of electrons it is negatively charged When it has a deficiency of electrons it
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