Lightning strikes are a major trigger for wildfires, including the record-breaking blazes that devastated Australia, California and other regions this year. An international research team has now demonstrated a method that could effectively control where lightning strikes, using graphene microparticles trapped in a “tractor beam.”
A bolt of lightning can become hotter than the surface of the Sun – so it’s no surprise that when they hit dry grass, shrubs or trees, they can spark fires. Couple that with the fact that climate change is reducing rainfall in already fire-prone areas while potentially increasing the intensity of lightning storms, and you’ve got a dangerous recipe. This year’s devastation could become a worryingly regular occurrence.
But what if we had a portable device that can be carried out to the site of a storm, and set up to guide lightning away from fire hazards or vulnerable buildings? Such a breakthrough may be a step closer to reality, thanks to a new study from researchers at Australian National University, the University of New South Wales, Texas A&M, and the University of California, Los