Only 0.1 percent of Earth's population (1 person per 1,000) can say that they have seen ball lightning with their own eyes. However, there are people, whom this rare natural phenomenon literally chases. This may testify to either the reasonable nature of this phenomenon or to certain abilities of people to attract lightning to themselves.
The name of US-based park ranger Roy Sullivan was even included on the Guinness Book of World Records. The man has encountered ball lightning seven times. Sullivan suffered various bodily injuries during all of those encounters. In 1942, he had his toe burnt, whereas in 1969, the lightning burnt his eyebrows. During the following encounters, ball lightning attacked the man's chest, stomach and ankles. Sullivan committed suicide at age 71.
A British officer, Major Summerford, was knocked off his horse while fighting in the fields of Flanders in 1918. When he recovered, the officer moved to Vancouver. In 1924, he went fishing with his friends. The men hid themselves under a tree when a storm gathered. The officer was struck by lightning again. He was able to walk again only in 1930. A third sad encounter occurred when the officer was walking in a park. The attack paralyzed the man again, and he died in two years. In 1934, lightning struck the tombstone on his grave.
Olga Ponizova, a pensioner from the town of Fryazevo, near Moscow, encountered ball lightning for the first time at age 13. She was living with her parents in the Ural region back then and was working as a shepherd in summer. One fine summer night, Olga was sitting on a log in the pasture. The girl was reading a book when a ball-like object appeared in the air in front of her. The ball was hanging in the air motionless, but then started floating towards the girl. Olga covered her face with her hands, and the ball passed her by - she could feel the heat that was coming from it. Afterwards, the ball started to jolt around the girl. She took a grip on herself, picked a stick from the ground and threw it at the ball. The stick burnt through instantly.
Twenty years have passed since that memorable day. Olga got married and moved to Tashkent. The family went camping one day. Her son, a 12-year-old boy, saw a strange ball hanging in the air above the lake. The color of the ball was orange, and it was about 15 cm in diameter. Afterwards, the ball started moving, and the woman thought that it had come to visit her in person. She told the children to lie down on the ground and stay still.
The ball began to approach her indeed. It traveled in the air around the woman and then flew away. The next moment the woman felt heat coming from her back. It turned out that her jacket was burning.
Ball lightning visited the woman again several years ago. Olga was working in her garden that day. All of a sudden, she saw a bright ball in the air near her again. She pulled herself together very quickly and only thought: "What do you want from me? I am not afraid of you!" The ball floated about the garden for a while and then flew into the house. The woman heard the sound of broken glass and rushed in the house too. In her room, she saw that her mirror had been broken. She also found her family photograph on the floor and saw a strange round hole in the window pane.
Some researchers believe that the phenomenon, which people refer to as ball lighting, is actually an unknown form of energy, which most likely has reason. Why does ball lightning chase its victims? Can it be because of chemical peculiarities of their bodies? Does ball lightning need some energy boost from human beings?
Read the original in Russian