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Karl Stephan

Professor explains ‘ball lightening’ phenomenon on university podcast

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Texas State University’s Karl Stephan, a professor in the Ingram School of Engineering, joins the Big Ideas TXST podcast to discuss his research into the mysterious phenomenon of ball lightning.

A poorly understood natural phenomenon, ball lightning has been reported throughout history. Ranging in size from a pea to a basketball, the glowing orbs can appear in various colors, either transparent or translucent. Ball lightning has been reported at ground level and by airplanes. The spheres can last for many seconds, unlike the brief flash of traditional lightning, and can hover, rise, fall or move against the wind in unpredictable ways. No satisfactory hypothesis has described the cause of ball lightning and researchers have yet to successfully recreate it under laboratory conditions.

Stephan joined the TXST faculty in 2000 after an extended period teaching at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He earned his master of engineering degree from Cornell University in 1977 and his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983.

Big Ideas TXST is part of the TXST Podcast Network.

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