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Lightning: Nature and Culture

Derek M. Elsom

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Reaktion Books
01 January 2016
Mathematics & Sciences; Meteorology & climatology
Nature's own spectacular firework display, lightning is awe-inspiring, beautiful and dangerous. Early civilizations believed lightning was so powerful that only gods and goddesses could wield such formidable forces.

By the eighteenth century attitudes and understandings of lightning had changed markedly, as science began to replace folklore in our comprehension of this natural phenomena. Benjamin Franklin's kite experiment proved that lightning was an 'electric fluid', and repeated attempts were made to protect ourselves from lightning's destructive potential, and depict its extraordinary power in art, film and literature.In Lightning: Nature and Culture, Derek M. Elsom explores the history of humanity's relationship with this natural phenomena - from the myths and legends of the storm deities, to in-depth studies of its artistic representations, to state-of-the-art lightning protection systems on aircraft, ships and skyscrapers. Lightning explores the stories of those struck by lightning, and asks the vital question: 'What can we do to lessen the risk of being struck?' 

Beautifully illustrated with stunning lightning displays and striking images of storm gods and goddesses, as well as the distinctive fern-like branching patterns left by lightning on people's skin, Lightning: Nature and Culture will appeal to all those interested in the natural environment, especially those fascinated by extreme weather forces and how weather is an integral part of our daily lives.
By:   Derek M. Elsom
Imprint:   Reaktion Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 210mm,  Width: 148mm,  Spine: 18mm
Weight:   476g
ISBN:   9781780234960
ISBN 10:   1780234961
Series:   Earth
Pages:   240
Publication Date:   01 January 2016
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Derek M. Elsom is Professor Emeritus of Geography at Oxford Brookes University. He has published widely on lightning, tornadoes, hailstorms and thunderstorms, and is the author of Earth: The Making, Shaping and Workings of a Planet (1992), Weather Explained (1997) and Smog Alert: Managing Urban Air Quality (Earthscan, 1996).

Reviews for Lightning: Nature and Culture

One of a series of books on natural phenomena that traces a history of the topic through cultural superstitions, scientific discoveries, and depictions in literature and the arts, illustrated by beautiful colour photography. From odd warding customs, the gods of antiquity and ball lightning to lighting marks, St Elmo's Fire and solidified lightning (fulgurites), Derek Elsom maintains our interest throughout, making this very accessible to everyman . . . an excellent introduction to one of the mysterious forces of nature. --Fortean Times This is the best book I have read on the subject of lightning and is very reasonably priced, so I can unreservedly recommend it to all readers. --International Journal of Meteorology The phenomenon of lightning has long frightened and fascinated humanity. As part of Reaktion's Earth series, this book explores the scientific and social aspects of this natural occurrence. . . . This book, beautifully illustrated with many color photographs, provides an excellent, basic overview of the subject. --Choice


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