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Newspaper Page Text
WHATIS THUNDER A SIMPLE EXPLANATION
OF THE SUMMER CANNONADING IN THE SKY
water we call droplets which, when
in large groups are rain clouds and
when these clouds drop into a cool
By Albert F. Ferguson.
What is thunder?
Blow air into a perfectly tight pa
per bag until it is full. Hold the bag
so that none of the air can escape
and strike it sharply and suddenly.
There will be an explosion like the
crack of a pistol.
That is what thunder is!
The scientific-explanation for it is.
the expansion, compression and sud
den escape of air. It is the -same thing
that happens in a cartridge shell
when you press the trigger of a gun
or pistol. In fact that is really a
better explanation of thunder than
the paper bag experiment because it
has all the elements that cause thun
der. The spark caused by the cap
causes the ignition of the powder,
forming a gas which pushes the bul
let out of the barrel of the gun and
when the gas comes in-contact with
the air, it makes a roaring, crac ing
sound trying to get through, because
the pressure of the . gas is greater
than the air.
The thunder, therefore, Is the re
sult of the lightning.
Now, what is lightning?
We don't , know. Nobody knows.
We know that it is electricity which
is another way of saying we don't
know because we don't know w"hat
electricity is. But we do have a gen
eral idea of what lightning does to
make the thunder. There is electric
ity in the air all the time. Some times
we feel it more than we do at oth
ers or at least we are more con
scious of it being there at one time
than at another. This is due to the
condition of the atmosphere. If a
good breeze is blowing and the mix
ture of water and gas and dust that'
we call air is kept stirring we don't
feel the electricity much.
But if there is not much of a breeze
the air feels heavy and oppressive
and seems to be filled with moisture.
It is. It is filled with tiny particles of
.strata of air they condense and form
rain drops. ,
These droplets are curious things
curious because they are so small.
It takes 300 trillion of them to make
one drop of rain. And it is in the
making of the drops of rain that the
lightning comes. The surface of ev
ery droplet Is covered" with electricity.
This brings out another curious fact.
When you take two' balls of the same
size and make one ball of them you
find that the surface of the one big
ball is really smaller than the sum of
the surface of the two original balls.
So that when the 300 trillion droplets
form the single drop of rain there is
an enormous amount of electricity
left over after the surface of the rain
-drop is covered as full as it will hold.
This great excess has got to go
somewhere else. Whenever there
seems to be a good place for it to
go td another rain cloud or to the
earth a lot of these electrical parti
cles get together and make a sudden
break for it, making a lightning flash.
They go through the air. so fast they
heat it considerably.
The. heat causes the air to expand,
to become greater in volume than it
was originally and this volume of
air just like the gas in the gun bar
rel or the air in the bag when you
hit it has got to distribute itself
over the atmosphere and it starts
doing so with a roar and a bang just
as there is a roar and a bang when
the gas is shot out of the gun barrel
and when the compressed air is re
leased from the paper bag.
That is what thunder is.
The skins of 100,000 animals are
used every year for the covers of Ox
ford Bibles alone, and 400,000 sheets
of gold are required for the gilt lettering.