Fundo Claro
                                                  Lightning (Relâmpago)          

Lightning existed before humans and was the first source of fire on Earth. Many vegetable ecologic systems were developed to take advantage from lightning. Trees which seed needs fire to bloom exist because of it. Others colonize the area cleaned by the fire.

We are learning more and more about these huge electricity sparks in the sky and in this process we are starting to understand that without lightning we maybe wouldn’t be here. On its maximum point a lightning temperature gets up to 27.000 0C making the surrounding air to burn. Nitrogen and oxygen react forming nitrates that are vital to fertilize the soil through the rain. The air expands very quickly causing the thunder sound we hear right after a lightning.

Lightning may have been the primitive source of life on earth. Many facts we know and many we don’t know may be related to natural electricity.

One single spark can bring enough energy to feed a big city like São Paulo for several hours. The electric power of lighting is enormous. In our homes we have 120 Volts and 40 Amperes of electricity in average. A common lightning has about 500.000 Volts and 10.000 Amperes that are brought to ground in one second. The biggest lightning can reach 2 million volts. That’s really something, isn’t it?

The spacecraft Voyager has captured lightning in Jupiter and there is evidence of them in Venus. On Earth all we need to get lightning sparks is humid and hot air. This will produce storm clouds and lightning.  It seems lightnings are everywhere and are part of natural process.

But, if they may have been the source of life, they can also be very dangerous. Here are some tips about them:

 

Lightning sparks kill more people in the world than hurricanes or floods.

 

They are attracted by metallic objects or by the tallest object around. If  there  is a threat of storm get a shelter. Avoid open field.

 

Even inside your home you aren’t completely safe. Water pipes, electric and telephone wires communicate with the external environment and can be a way for a lightning to enter your house. In the USA about three people die every year because they were on the phone during an electric storm. The spark gets in the wires and reaches the person  killing her.

 

A parked car is the safest place in a lightning storm. The electricity will run through the metallic body of the car keeping safe the people inside it even if it is hit by a direct impact.

 

Stay away from tall objects like trees because it can be hit by a lightning that will explode it releasing some parts at lethal speed.

 

“ A lightning never hits twice the same place” – people say. It’s false unless the first lightning had destroyed the place.

 

We are beginning to understand how a lightning interacts with natural life process in our planet. Maybe for Earth’s future we have to understand it better. Electricity was not “invented” by the man. As we can see in this text it was “discovered” and not yet completely understood or tamed. Next time you are under an electric storm, get a shelter, take some basic care and enjoy the beauty of nature’s power. It’s really amazing!

 


Some words to help:

Lightning = relâmpago, raio
Thunder = trovão
Seed = semente
Bloom = florescer,brotar
Spark = faísca
Soil = solo, chão
Spacecraft = espaçonave
Flood = inundação (pronuncia-se "flâd")
The safest place = o lugar mais seguro(veja a pagina Adjetivos)

 Answer the questions with "true" or "false" according to the text:

1- Lightning is important to life on Earth.

2- Scientists know everything about lightning today.

3- A safe place to stay during a storm is under a tree.

4- There is lightning only on planet Earth.

5- A parked car is a safe place during a storm.

6- A lightning never falls twice on the same place

7- A single lightning doesn't have too much energy.

8- More people are killed by lightning than by other natural disasters.