How many volts does one lightning strike possess? Well, we didn’t really have the means to measure it accurately until they looked into muons present in a thunderstorm.
Using muons, heavier relatives of electrons that constantly rain down on Earth’s surface, scientists probed the insides of a storm in southern India in December 2014. The cloud’s electric potential — the amount of work necessary to move an electron from one part of the cloud to another — reached 1.3 billion volts, the researchers report in a study accepted in Physical Review Letters. That’s 10 times the largest voltage previously found by using balloons to make similar measurements.
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