Lightning: Fire from the Sky

 

This book is a detailed, readable account of a phenomenon that has fascinated humankind since prehistoric man hid in caves when thunder pealed overhead. As the world's population has grown, the risk of injury or death by lightning has steadily increased--but is still rare enough that many medical professionals do not know how to treat its victims. The author, an electrical engineer, brings the complex physics of lightning strikes alive in a graphic but non-technical way designed to appeal to a general reader audience. The book is enhanced by a comprehensive photographic treatment that includes some never-before-published photographs of lightning and its effects. The book opens with a foreword by Dr. Martin A. Uman, of the University of Florida, the world's best known lightning expert, who describes new developments in our ability to forecast dangerous storms that may pose lightning risks. The chapters that follow describe the history of the pioneering lightning researchers (some of who got close enough to their subject to be killed by it), and then describe in an understandable manner the complex chain of events that precipitate a lightning strike. The various forms of lightning are portrayed. The effect of electricity on the human body is described, along with characteristic symptoms that victims might ask their medical practitioners to investigate and possibly treat. The variations in lightning effects on human beings are dramatized through a series of first person accounts. Another chapter deals with the effects of lightning on property--buildings, transportation systems of all types, and electric utilities and other critical infrastructure--and discusses the best means to provide lightning protection for property. Finally, new developments in research, lightning prediction, and prevention are examined. The book includes an annotated bibliography of lightning literature.

 

Appearing throughout the text, which approximates 70,000 words, are 14 color plates and 20 black and white line illustrations that illustrate the main points being made in the narrative.

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