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I was researching about electric dragons whose electric breath can be explained scientifically, and I found this post(Plausibility Check: Is it possible to make a lightning dragon plausible?). In it there was an answer about biological electrolasers, in the end it said about the laser being released by the eyes and the electric current going through the path of ionized air to electrocute the victim. However, I still have a question: what would the attack properties be? By properties, I mean things like sound, voltage, appearance (if electrical current is visible), etc.

An image to represent what I mean by “appearance (if electrical current is visible)”. enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Can you link the "this post" you found? Because an electrically pumped organic laser has been the holy grail of researchers $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Oct 21, 2021 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ Dammit, I had forgotten! Thanks for reminding me! $\endgroup$ Oct 21, 2021 at 18:42

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There's this fascinating post on physics.se about air-ionizing lasers. The tech required to ionize and shoot lightning bolts is probaly far beyond what is biologically possible, but we're going to assume that this dragon is equipped with an extremely powerful short-wave continuous laser emitter as well as many batteries and supercapacitor banks. Whatever it needs to do a lightning attack.

To do this attack, the dragon will first fire the laser at its target. It will need at least 180W to work (not a ridiculous amount of power but quite a lot for a laser, and completely ridiculous for short wavelengths), but probably many times that amount practically. The laser beam will create a thin line of ionized air from the dragon to the victim. Then, it will connect the high voltage to the path of ionized air. The current will flow from the highly charged dragon to its electrically-neutral victim. This is convenient because the dragon can direct the lightning to any target because electricty will follow the ionized path of least resistance, and a much lower voltage can be used because the air is already ionized. The electricity flowing in the air will further ionize the surroundings, allowing more current to flow. This attack can be kept up until the victim reaches the same charge as the dragon (which will be very fast, so a one time shot).

As for how it will look, first you will see a thin purple-ish line of air between the dragon and its victim. At this point the victim's skin is being burned by the laser. Immediately afterwards you will see a lightning bolt shoot between them. It will appear to be a brilliant white, and with a slightly purple halo due to the oxygen and nitrogen the air is made of. It will generate a loud thunderclap noise as well (it is lightning after all). It will probably be pretty smooth in appearance, not forked like regular lightning, because almost all the electricity is traveling in the path of the laser beam. The lightning bolt won't be continuous, and the dragon will have to wait for its victim's charge to settle before firing again.

As for the damage it can do, probably not as much as you'd like. The laser itself will cause nasty burns on the surface of the victim, and the lightning bolts will basically due the same. It won't be shooting holes through people. But if its lucky, it can cause the surface to explode, or maybe even set someone on fire. It would be a pretty nasty experience.

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  • $\begingroup$ Umm... "The current will flow from the highly charged dragon" since the dragon started electrically neutral and ended "highly charged", where did the opposite charge go and how come it stayed there instead of neutralizing back the charged dragon? If the target remains charged after the hit, then the target is electrically insulated - what is pushing the electricity to flow from the dragon to the target? (hint: the capacitance of a human body is about 100pF. At 3MV, the stored energy is 450J - about the energy used by a single defibrillator shot - not enough to cause burns) $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2021 at 2:49
  • $\begingroup$ @AdrianColomitchi, the real point of my answer is to explain what the lightning would look like. But if you insist, I'd say the dragon is capable of generating a very high static charge (think van de graaf generator). Since the dragon is surrounded by air, an insulator, the charge cannot easily escape off the dragon. Once a path of ionized air connects the dragon to the victim, the charge flows and balances the voltage. As I said in my answer, nothing will flow once equilibrium is reached; hence a one time shot. $\endgroup$
    – Rafael
    Oct 22, 2021 at 3:37
  • $\begingroup$ @AdrianColomitchi, And 450 MV is plenty to cause burns! I'm not talking about frying the person from the inside, but the electrical arcs around him certainly will cause burns. $\endgroup$
    – Rafael
    Oct 22, 2021 at 3:37
  • $\begingroup$ "think van de graaf generator... And 450 MV is plenty" So, you are keeping the charge separated on different parts of the dragon, all 450MV of it. What insulator your dragon is made up of? Breakdown voltage of dry air is 3MV/m, to keep those 450MV from discharging through air you'll need 150m distance between charge storage - ignoring corona discharges. Pressurized gas VdG generators are only capable of 25MV.. Largest open air VdG - 2MV max. $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2021 at 4:39
  • $\begingroup$ Besides, if you keep the opposite charge still on the dragon, the one that you want to dump on the target will be in small enough quantity: the opposite charge will want to keep most of it close to it. Methinks you'd need a refresher on circuits and capacitance. $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2021 at 4:46
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When I interpret your picture correctly, this dragon produces lightning.

The lightning is electrically ionized air. Ionizing involves building up a charge and reaching a breakdown voltage level for the air between the target and the dragon. The breakdown voltage depends on the distance, pressure and dielectric constant of the surrounding air.

enter image description here

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakdown_voltage

The average real world lightning voltage is 3 million volts, but lightning involves much larger travel distances.

https://www.weather.gov/safety/lightning-power

Tesla played with this, "millions of volts"..

enter image description here

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Experimental_Station

I found a violent one on Youtube, 1.5 million volts produced by a power station transformer, range 5-10 meters.. if you want something deadly.. you need current as well..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HYXfUjMaYA

Sound

In any case, the sound of the attacking dragon will have more higher frequencies than usual for a beast of this size !

Assuming the discharge is DC voltage resulting from charge buildup. The sound of the dragon's attack will be the roar of the dragon mixed with DC discharge sounds, in this case like a revolver shot-like discharge at its onset, followed by a squeeky and jittering sound. What happens after the explosive onset depends on the shape of the dragon's mouth, muscles and organs involved. You'll have to decide where the discharge takes place in the dragon's mouth. When the dragon would use a (metal?) palatal organ back in the mouth to produce the discharge, the jaw and head of the dragon will resonate after the discharge, which would sound like a boom-like reverb.

Then, the dragon maintains the voltage and keeps the lightning on. Any jittering or irregularity in that followup will be amplified too. It depends on the design of the head and the muscles used. To maintain the voltage, the dragon would e.g. need to oscillate a muscle. You'd get a rattle snake sound amplified 48dB.

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    $\begingroup$ Okay, that's the voltage, but what about the other characteristics of the dragon's attack like sound, color, appearance, etc? $\endgroup$ Oct 23, 2021 at 9:31
  • $\begingroup$ Color and appearance I'm not sure.. I added a part about the sound, interesting aspect.. $\endgroup$
    – Goodies
    Oct 23, 2021 at 12:59

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