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Subject: Dynamite vs Lightning rss

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Dennis Ku
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My 5 year-old asked me a question, and I don't know how to answer besides making something up (which I did, and he rejected as a made-up answer).

What would happen if a large amount of dynamite blew up just as a bolt of lightning hit it? He wants to know "which would win". I want to know if anything would happen to the lightning. Someone make up something.

Don't let me down, Chit Chat. I'm already down to being the 5th smartest in my home (wife, orange tabby, 5 year-old, black cat, then me, and finally the 2 year-old...so I'm not last yet).
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Josh Jennings
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This sounds like a pretty good question to ask Randall Munroe.
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kSwingrÜber
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Jeeze, I paid 100 GG for this... there's a sucker born every minute.
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A quick google search give the energy in the average bolt of lightning as 1 GigaJoule, and the energy in dynamite at 5 MegaJoules per kilogram. So if a “large amount” of dynamite weighs under 90 pounds, the lightning wins! QED

(if it makes you feel any better, I did this while large grey cat was trying to walk on the keyboard)

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StevenE Smooth Sailing...
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Hmmm... the kinetic force of the dynamite blast would not disrupt the flow of electrons from the lightning (if triggering at the same time).

The heat from the lightning would be affected by the dynamite blast as its Kenetic energy expands.

so which would win?

If a person is within a foot or two of the event then they're dead.
The lightning strike becomes less destructive as distance increases.
The dynamite will have a much larger kill radius.

On first blush I'd say the dynamite would win/kill
Many people have survived lightning strikes
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Bruce Gazdecki
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Interesting question.

Since lightning is simply electrons, I don't think the dynamite would directly impact it, as I'm not sure the force of the explosion (being a macro scale force) would be able to act on an atom (nanoscale particle).

However, since the dynamite would be moving the air required for the lightning to travel, as well as the ground that it is discharging towards, it could impact the lightning indirectly by changing or maybe(?) stopping the flow due to the change in density and flow of the transferring medium.

Also, given that the dynamite has already exploded, the lightning isn't able to truly interact with the dynamite, whereas the explosion of the dynamite "could" affect the lightning.

I say dynamite.

But I could be totally wrong too.

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SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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The lightning moves faster than the shockwave from the dynamite. That is, the transfer of electromagnetic energy is faster than the transfer of the kinetic energy of the explosives.

The lightning always finds a path of least resistance. This is not necessarily to the ground, but almost always is. That is, the purpose of this discussion, the lightning will find a path to ground, instanteously.

The lightning will make its way through whatever adjustment the dynamite makes to the air.

The lightning always wins. It may not strike in precisely the place it would have struck before the explosion, because any movement of the air will slightly alter the resistance in places, but it will strike and it will strike through the explosion.

Tell your kid to send me another one.
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Andy Andersen
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This takes me right back to year 8 science.

(For the umpteenth time) "sir... but what if there was some francium present?"
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TonyKR
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Matt
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Chris Robbins
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Can we just accept that it would be bad?

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Adrian Hague
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
The lightning always finds a path of least resistance. This is not necessarily to the ground, but almost always is. That is, the purpose of this discussion, the lightning will find a path to ground, instanteously.

Weirdly, lightning strikes go 'up' (ground to sky) as well as down!

http://earthscience.stackexchange.com/questions/580/why-does...
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Dennis Ku
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These are amazing answers. I will pass them on to Quinn! Thanks, Chit Chat.
 
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David Jones
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
The lightning moves faster than the shockwave from the dynamite. That is, the transfer of electromagnetic energy is faster than the transfer of the kinetic energy of the explosives.


This is the answer I was leaning towards. If you can find the Mythbusters episode where they blow up a cement truck, the footage shows the shockwave traveling over the area. You could actually show your son the difference in speed between the dynamite explosion and the speed of lightning.
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SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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AdrianPHague wrote:
Weirdly, lightning strikes go 'up' (ground to sky) as well as down!


I knew that. But Dennis is barely smarter than a 2-yr old, so it would only confuse him.
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I'm free-basing midichloriens and the force is, like, an energy that connects and penetrates us all, man.
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Way too much lightning-bias in this thread.

The OP's condition is the lighting hits the dynamite as it's blowing up.

Lightning doesn't hurt the dynamite at all. The dynamite is already doing it's job - blowing up. The lightning doesn't affect it. But the dynamite is disturbing the medium the lightning is traveling through, probably changing it's path. So - it's like a game of chicken, and the lightning veers off. So the dynamite wins.

Also, lightning struck my mother, twice, so lightning is a jerk. Dynamite, however, helped my grandfather go fishing.
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Society of Watchers
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Did you know, that thunderclouds form positrons (which are the corresponding anti-matter particles to electrons, having a +charge, rather than a negative one.)?

Also, the collision of the positrons with the electrons causes mutual annihilation with a release of gamma rays?

It's all rather interesting.

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/news/fermi-thunders...
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1 Lucky Texan
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depending heavily on timing of the detonation and the formation of the discharge path, I'd say it's almost a guarantee that the path of the lightning's discharge would be altered by the presence of the shockwave, smoke particles, etc. from the dynamite's blast.

but neither the dynamite nor the lightning's energy release would be 'significantly' affected.


but, just gut feelings on the matter - cool question though!
 
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Chuck Henry
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Not to further confuse the issue but what constitutes "winning"?
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David Jones
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Windrant wrote:
Not to further confuse the issue but what constitutes "winning"?


I kind of had the same question myself. I'm only speculating, but in some sense I think they both "win." The lightning would do its damage, but I expect it would ignite the dynamite, so it would get still get to explode and do its thing. For example, we know that (without lightning rods) lighting can damage buildings and start fires, but its uncommon for it to actually destroy them. In contrast, dynamite can blow out buildings from the inside out, destroying foundations and supporting structures. Yet lightning delivers more energy and is more likely to be lethal. Certainly not the best analogy, but comparing lightning to dynamite seems like comparing a sniper rifle to a shotgun. Which one is better depends on what kind of result you want.
 
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