I think it is part of the human condition – to marvel at thunderstorms. These displays of electricity give us a feeling of connection to deeper processes to Nature. The sense of heightened awareness and danger in a storm are stark reminders of the immense power of the universe; thunderstorms represent the interface between us and the heavens.
Of course we have tried to explain thunderstorms scientifically. The story given to school children still today is that lightning is caused by the build up of a type of static electricity in clouds which discharges towards the Earth cause lightning strikes.
Another staple of school education is the water cycle. The clouds are formed by evaporated water which come inland then shed their water droplets on reaching the hills. It all seems so logical and seems to match our observations.
As for rain clouds, why is it even possible to see blue skies over the sea? Surely it should be full of evaporating water causing clouds. And why do some clouds rain and some not? Meteorologists are puzzled.
From the start of the my research I knew that there was something fundamental about water. I just didn’t quite know what.
Imagine my surprise when in the mid 2000s research started to emerge about the secret lives of thunderstorms. Satellite imaging had revealed a whole new world above the clouds.
New types of lightning were being discovered called exotic names such as elves and sprites. The big shocker was the findings of gamma-ray radiation above the clouds that corresponded to the positions of thunderstorms. To the amazement of scientists these were just as powerful as some of those seen coming from deep space.
I just could hardly believe it. Here in this phenomenon that had long fascinated humans was the same process that occurs in the Black Hole Principle.The same process that occurs in the centres of galaxies and made gamma-ray bursts and fast flashes of electrons was going on just a few miles above our heads. This was the missing link. But there was an element missing.
Antimatter: if I was right then antimatter needed to be part of the process. I didn’t have to wait too long. In 2010 NASA announced that they were going to investigate Terrestrial gamma-ray flashes. (Notice they don’t call them bursts. It’s almost like they don’t want o admit that they are just like the gamma-ray bursts in space.)
In 2011 the announcements of their shock findings were made: antimatter is produced in thunderstorms. Just as I had predicted would be the case in the Black Hole Principle. It was one of the greatest triumphs of the theory.
But of course there is more to a thunderstorm – there is rain. I still remember the day I walked outside and looked up with David Ash’s book in my hand. His words had made me feel so connected to it all. The rain started to pop onto my face, but I didn’t care. I knew I was staring up at the same process that happened inside galaxies. I knew that for my theory to be fully correct it needed something else. Black Holes in space should produce water just as they do on earth.
With this idea, I chose not to spell it out in my book, Punk Science. It seemed too preposterous. But it is there if you care to look and I was still working on the concept of water coming out of black holes even though I didn’t tell everyone I was doing so. In the book I explain how thunderstorms are a Black Hole Principle process. As I am putting forward that the same process occurs in black holes across the universe, by implication this means that water can also be produced by this process anywhere in the universe.
Again I didn’t have to wait many years for this to be proven in many different levels. My partner, James sent me a link to an article describing the largest body of water ever to be found in space. And it was coming out of a black hole!
After I heard this news, I don’t think I stopped sobbing for a full half hour! Words cannot describe the elation that you feel at scientific discovery, at being part of moving the sum of human knowledge that little bit forward. A quick search began to reveal the latest telescope results. Water was everywhere and in time it would even be found at the centre of the earth and being produced on Mars.
But the key to it all for me is the thunderstorm – still the pivot point between earth and the heavens where seemingly impossible power is being released and at light speeds too.
I hope we will one day stop lying to school children about clouds and static electricity and tell them the truth – that the universe is sublimely connected from the very large to the very small and the thunderstorm is in the middle of it all and that if you truly understand them you are one step further to understanding all of creation.