Ball Lightning ca. 1901

What Is It About “Ball Lightning” ?

No.  Really. I’m asking. What is it about ‘ball lightning‘?

While thumbing through the incoming emails from ‘Morgan,’ I found a line that has occasionally pulled at my mental bell rope since he first sent it – on August 25, 2004:

Stick to the subject of ball lightning like spit on chewing gum.

Oooookay.   That’s Morgan’s usual MO.  Translation:  “This is important, good f’ing luck figuring out why.”

I’m addressing the subject now because Jan Lunquist noticed that I’d started to write about it a few weeks ago.  Not surprisingly, when I started to title this post simply “Ball Lightning,” WordPress added a -4 to the permalink – because I’d forgotten that I’d come to the threshold of this particular rabbit hole at least three times before.  I guess it’s time to try again.

Stable Plasmoids

There was more to that August ’04 message from Morgan: 
You might find the phrase “stable plasmoid” interesting. It is called an “artificial plasma ball” or “an enhanced Electro hydro dynamic reaction used in some advanced flying craft.”  Remember that they might use EHD instead. And no, I don’t mean Elizabeth Helen Drake.*

OK, what’s a “stable plasmoid.”

I know that ‘plasma’ is the fourth state of matter – after solid, liquid and gas – in which the gas molecules have broken down into their subatomic particles.   I guess it’s easy enough to imagine why such a thing would be naturally unstable.

I have a long standing (if somewhat uneducated) interest in the subject of ‘plasma’ as it pertains to my other obsession, fusion energy. Fusion takes place in a plasma, where the positively charged fuel particles are separated from their electrons and thus free to ‘fuse’ with other positively charged particles – if their natural repulsion, the ‘Coulomb Law‘ can be overcome. In fact, in the construction and operation of a Farnsworth Fusor, producing a stable plasma is the last step before introducing deuterium fuel and achieving fusion.

And lately I keep hearing the word “plasma” in all kinds of strange contexts.  For example, author Joseph Farrell (Chapter 50 – Quantum Germans) waxes philosophically about plasmas in an earlier episode of one of the podcasts I appeared on last summer.  He almost sounds like Morgan, saying “this is important, good luck figuring out why…”

None of that answers the question “what’s a stable plasmoid?, so let’s ask the Mystic Oracle (aka ChatGPT):

A stable plasmoid is a self-contained, coherent structure of plasma that can maintain its shape and properties for an extended period of time, without dissipating or disintegrating. Plasmoids are often created in laboratory experiments or in natural phenomena such as lightning and auroras. Stable plasmoids have potential applications in areas such as fusion energy, plasma propulsion, and plasma-based electronics.

Wait… what?  Fusion energy?  Put a pin in that.  First we have to address…

Electro Hydro Dynamics

Morgan’s missive mentions “Electro hydro dynamics” so I turned to ChatGPT again: Does electro hydro dynamics have anything to do with ball lightning?

Electro hydro dynamics (EHD) is a field of physics that studies the interaction between electric fields and fluid flows. While there is no conclusive scientific explanation for the phenomenon of ball lightning, some researchers have proposed that EHD may play a role in its formation and behavior.

One theory suggests that ball lightning could be formed by the interaction between lightning strikes and the surrounding air, which could ionize the air and create a plasma. The plasma could then be shaped and sustained by EHD effects, such as the movement of charged particles in the electric field created by the lightning strike.

OK, so: One of Townsend Brown’s specialties was ‘Electro Hydro Dynamics.”  And ball lightning is a ‘stable plasmoid’ that could be shaped by EHD effects.   And maintaining a plasma is essential to sustaining nuclear fusion.

I’m sure all this is important. Good luck…. 🤦🏻‍♂️

A Green Fireball

Stay with me now while I go down another shaft in this flashing, crackling rabbit hole.
Elsewhere in the archives, I found another reference to ball lightning in the Boston (O’Riley) correspondence. In a message dated August 26, 2004 (the day after Morgan’s message 🤔), Boston (aka ‘O’Riley) wrote:

You have the trail of a ball lightning incident in 1945, right? Correct me if I am wrong, look for  a mention of “Rainbow” as it pertains to the Cutlass.

That’s actually a bit of a non-sequitur.  It’s a stretch from ‘ball lightning in 1945″ to “Cutlass.”  But I did manage to find a connection between the submarine Cutlass and ball lightning:

During the “Guppy Reconversion Program” in 1945, tests were performed on the electrical gear of the submarine the U.S.S. Cutlass. During these tests a fully charged bank of batteries was accidentally connected across a non-spinning generator. The reverse current circuit breaker opened and interrupted the resulting short circuit.

A green fireball floated out of the circuit breaker into the engine room. The life of this fireball was about one second.

Paul A. Silberg of the Raytheon Company investigated this  incident in 1962. Silberg concluded that “Some configurational energy must be present” in the plasma balls. Silberg offered an explanation to account for the excess energy. He said that the energy of the plasma ball was contained within a loop of current.

TPX Again?  Really?

Well. Whaddya know? There’s that word ‘plasma’ again.  It must mean… something.

While we’re pondering that quandary, let’s go back to Boston’s message:

Now look at the fact that the entire Philadelphia Experiment story starts on Jan 13, 1956. What else was happening in January of 1956 and the time around that as far as Dr. Brown was concerned?

I have addressed the subject of ‘The Philadelphia Experiment” (TPX) elsewhere. That subject is never going to go away (that topic sticks to Townsend Brown like, well, spit on chewing gum –very old, stale, tasteless chewing gum).  So let’s not get distracted by that now (since that is, after all, the whole point to the TPX business – it’s a distraction).

My best guess as to “what else was happening in January 1956” is that’s when “the Set” was returned to Dr. Brown (Chapter 74 – Not A Dream) just prior to his trip to France, where he experimented with tethered saucers in a vacuum chamber (Chapter 75 – Paris). The dates don’t line up perfectly but they’re all in proximity.

Submarines, Plasma Balls and… Wormholes?

Now, this is the damndest thing.

After all that, I decided to run a search on ‘uss cutlass ball lightning

Imagine my surprise when one of the top-ranked results was my own nuclear fusion forum!   I don’t know if I ever saw this thread that starts with

It has been suggested ball lightning might be a good model for a fusion reactor confinement scheme if it could be consistently generated in the lab for proper study. I am curious why there has not been more done with the unintentional ball lightning of the type seen in old diesel electric submarines. My understanding is that clumsy switching of the large batteries that ran the subs would generate ball lightning.
OMG, there it all is in one paragraph from 2003:  ball lightning, fusion, and submarines.
This must mean something.  But, you know.  Good luck…. 🤦🏻‍♂️
This thread was posted by a user using the handle ‘Verp.’  I have no idea who ‘Verp’ is/was (that’s why we no longer permit identity-hiding ‘handles’ at  He posted on the forum only 7 times between May 2003 and January 2011.  Verp could be Morgan for all I know, though the thread starts more than a year before the character with that name showed up at Linda’s coral in the California Desert (Chapter 45 – The Ghost At The Coral).

But here’s my favorite part of that thread:

There are quite extreme explanations to ball lightnings. For example that they are “one end” of a wormhole. Some eyewitnesses say they saw objects fall out of ball lightnings.
There you have it, folks.  From “stick to ball lightning” to the localized  opening of a worm hole.
Now that might be something to stick a wad of chewing gum on.


*Those who have been around a while will remember that ‘Elizabeth Helen Drake’ was the pseudonym that Linda Brown used during ‘the before times’ (2003-2009).  All of her posts on the original forum used that handle, and that’s the name she went by when we visited the archivist at Denison University in the fall of 2004 (Chapter 11 – “He Made Things Up”
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