Lightning Towers

These two pictures captured lightning simultaneously striking both the Hancock and Sears towers in Chicago.

picture of lightning striking both Hancock AND Sears towers by Volkan Yuksellightning strikes Hancock AND Sears towers, by Nick Suydam

Tesla wonder towerThis is Tesla’s “wonder tower”, the first transmission tower in the world.

Poor Tesla. He was sued for non-payment of electricity in 1899. Earlier, the city had sent a bill for water. Investors wouldn’t stick by him. Patents expired, including royalties from Westinghouse for the AC motor.

I wonder how many today are slaving away in research, valiantly seeking the trick that taps the bazillions of volts of electricity all around us.

Tesla patented electric power transmission too. Did you know that sixty percent of the power generated, whether coal or natural gas or nuclear power, is lost in transmission wires? Heat forces electrons out of the wires into the surrounding air.

Huge volumes of electrons are lost to radiation from wires. I walked back and forth under hi-voltage power lines not far from a power plant. When I was directly under the thick wires, I felt sick. As I walked 50 yards away, the queasiness disappeared. I tested this phenomena a few times, hoping to prove the nausea wasn’t just in my mind, but clearly I could repeat the sick feeling only while underneath the wires.

classic lightning bolt lightning strikes in the midwest

There are thousands of lightning strike at any given time in the midwest. How many tinkerers and dreamers are working to tap a lightning bolt for its electrical power? A thousand? Ten thousand?

But very few scientists or engineers. As powerful as it is, a lightning strike lasts only 0.2 milliseconds and no method exists (yet) to capture and store its electricity. Plus an average lightning bolt will power an average home for only two weeks. It may never be possible, especially if 26 lightning bolts are needed for a family’s yearly power.

How many have never seen lightning?

How many have seen lightning strike a tree?

I lived 51 stories in a