Smell Lightning

Smell Lightning

Lighting Has a Smell, And The Science Behind It Is Beautiful

The human nose can detect ozone concentrations as little as 10 parts per billion. That’s the equivalent of three teaspoons of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool. You may smell it when doing laundry, too. Those little static sparks between clothes coming out of your drier act as miniature lightning bolts, producing just enough ozone for you to get a whiff. Next time you’re in a thunderstorm, take a big ol’ deep breath. You may just be smelling lightning.

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His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. (Psalm 97:4)

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(sciencealert.com)—But unlike its blinding flash or deafening roar, the scent of a lightning bolt is much more subtle. In fact, you’ve probably experienced it before. Whenever lightning strikes, it heats the air to 30,000 degrees Celsius (50,000 degrees Fahrenheit)! The rapid expansion of the air produces a sonic boom that you hear as thunder. However, at the molecular scale, chemical changes can alter the atmosphere on a highly local level and leave behind an aroma. The air is 78 percent nitrogen and barely 20 percent oxygen. Neither nitrogen nor oxygen typically exists in its elemental form in the atmosphere. Instead, two of each pair up as N2 or O2. When the lightning heats the air, it splits the bonds between them – and that’s when random Ns or Os can start hopping around.