Monday, 8 January 2018: 3:00 PM
Room 2 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Like the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in the fifteenth century, which revolutionized written communication, the invention of photography in the early nineteenth century revolutionized visual communication. Science was an immediate beneficiary of these technological advances. Photography, for example, has enabled scientists to record and document for later analysis a wide range of natural phenomena, ranging from X-ray diffraction photographs of DNA to high-resolution photographs of myriad galaxies throughout the universe. In the atmospheric sciences, the applications were far reaching, ranging from exposing the physical properties of hydrometeors to recording from space-based platforms the structure and evolution of hurricanes. With all of the applications, there were both technical and scientific challenges. The challenges were particularly evident in photographic studies of lightning, a consequence of its fleeting and unpredictable nature. But owing to advances in photographic emulsions, lenses and cameras, images were made that could “see” what the unaided human eye could not: the highly structured nature of the lightning stroke. In this talk, I will discuss the unique and historical relationship that has existed between photography and lightning research. Topics will include early lightning photography, the development and use of highly specialized cameras, and the key scientific questions surrounding lightning that have been answered through photography.
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