Lightning and Ships
Name: Michael T.
Ships anchored by chain do not seem to have a major
problem with lightning strikes. Why?
Hi, Michael !!!
Well, as you know, a lightning conductor in sky-scrappers
has not the chief task of attracting the lightning, but has
the function of discharge the atmosphere.
The better the electrical connection, the better the electrical
discharge. Your question : " ships anchored by chain do not
seem to have a major >problem with lightning strikes. Why? "
The answer seems to me to be that ships discharge, rather
then attracts lightning.
The chain is no easier for electricity to pass through than the water around
it. The chain contacting the bottom of the boat is no more attractive to
the lightning bolt than is the water touching the boat. A thick chain
passing from the top of a wooden mast to the water might be a little
"attractive", but it would act as a lightning rod. Very little electricity
would enter the wood of the boat.
Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Illinois Central College
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Update: June 2012