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Physics/lightning

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Question
Hi,

Sometimes lightning strikes some people. Why lightning strike some people and not others, what is the physics behind this?

Regards

Answer
There's not much physics to that.  Lightning will strike the highest connection to ground it can reach.  Lightning bolts have been known to strike whole groups of people at once, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Some factors, such as the insulating nature of various types of shoe, can influence who in a group is most likely to receive the most charge during a lightning strike, but lightning generally strikes people approximately the same way.  The rest depends on where they're standing and when, if the voltage is high enough that the electric fields near their bodies break down the air, they get struck by lightning.

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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson

Expertise

I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.

Experience

I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Education/Credentials
Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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