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Desired Product:

  • A railgun that allows me to shoot ball lightings at my enemies, like a god from greek myth
  • At impact, the ball lightning violently explodes (And that wasn't even a direct hit!) enter image description here
    Hey, what's up guys, it's scarce here. (artistic illustration of a ball lightning)

Additional Info:

  • Please use what the direct measurements have found out about the ball lightning.
  • Let's just say, that the energy requirements can be handwaved.

More details:

Some have speculated that ball lightning is a plasma ball, but that theory has been dismissed because a "hot globe of plasma should rise like a hot-air balloon" and that is not what ball lightning does.

Who cares? It responds strongly to magnetic fields, lasts longer and is hot enough, that's all we need.

Note:
We don't exactly know how ball lightnings are created, but the most likely theory is:

When lightning strikes the ground, the minerals are broken down into tiny particles of silicon and its compounds with oxygen and carbon. The tiny charged particles link up into chains, which go on to form filamentary networks. These cluster together in a light fluffy ball, which is borne aloft by air currents. There, it hovers as ball lightning, or a burning orb of fluffy silicon emitting the energy absorbed from the lightning in form of heat and light, until the phenomenon burns itself out.

This theory is supported by the direct measurements of a ball lightning.
source


Question:

How can I design a railgun to shoot ball lightning?


Note

Based on what I've read a weapon like this would be terrifying.

Related.

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    $\begingroup$ Is there any flaw in this concept, that can ruin my idea? <- what concept? Railguns exist, albeit in prototype form. But balls of lightning? What the heck are those supposed to be? And no, I'm not going to watch the video attached. Please explain whatever concept it is you're trying to get feedback on. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Mar 10 '17 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ I have re-worded to make this more like an actual question. @Secespitus This is not a duplicate because this is an actual question and is not 'unclear what he is asking' like the last one :) $\endgroup$ – kingledion Mar 10 '17 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM Ok, it's just an example of an often overlooked possible effect of a plasma cannon. How'd you never heard about ball lightning? (google is your BEST friend in finding new information) $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Mar 10 '17 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ @RedactedRedacted - we shouldn't have to google anything, or access external links to understand the basic premise of your question. Maybe you should have included screenshots and a brief description that you're talking about the effects of firing plasma, etc. Sites can move, links change, plus some of us are answering from work and can't research your topic, or watch videos. Your question lacks any real context without following those links, and so if those move then your question becomes very difficult to understand for future users. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Mar 10 '17 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM Is it ok now? $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Mar 10 '17 at 22:05
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You fire it once, then it melts.

Let's suppose you manage to make your ball lightning rail gun (BLRG) out of this recently discovered substance, a combination of hafnium, nitrogen and carbon, expected to have a melting point of about 4400 kelvin. Or if that doesn't work, the other material mentioned in that article, whose melting point is 4200 kelvin.

Compare that to a quote in your own Wikipedia link, which shows a lower bound for the temperature of ball lightning at 15000 kelvin:

From the spectrum, the temperature of the ball lightning was assessed as being lower than the temperature of the parent lightning (<15,000–30,000 K..."

You propose to toss a mass of plasma at 15000 kelvin down the barrel of a BLRG that melts at no more than 4400 kelvin. Granted, the plasma won't be in contact with BLRG for long, so it probably won't melt completely to nothing. However, I suspect the damage will render this a one-and-done weapon. Unfortunately, I don't think this passes the reality-check test.

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    $\begingroup$ Can I confine the plasma right after it's creation, then hurl it at my enemies? Like tokamaks? $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Mar 10 '17 at 16:22
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    $\begingroup$ Correction: like how tokamaks confine the hotter than the sun plasma inside them? $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Mar 10 '17 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ Hmmm. I'm seeing the problem differently now. Your BLRG would basically become a tunnel of electromagnetic "traps." At one end, you've got a large one to initialize things, then a series of smaller ones that rapidly turn on and off as the ball passes by, accelerating it at each step. It gets you over the melting problem, but after that I don't know. $\endgroup$ – cobaltduck Mar 10 '17 at 18:06
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    $\begingroup$ Thankfully, ball lighting usually travel without deterring from a horizontal line and can be manipulated with electromagnetic fields. $\endgroup$ – Mephistopheles Mar 10 '17 at 18:22
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Aside from the fact that nobody fully understands how ball lightning is actually formed, you're likely to run into the same issues that impede the development of a regular directed lightning gun. Lightning is extremely unpredictable and nearly impossible to direct unless you have the ability to significantly alter the electric potential of your target, at which point you might as well just use whatever mechanism you are using to alter their electric potential to damage them directly and forego the lightning gun altogether.

If ball lightning responds to magnetic fields, you have the same issue. If it responds to air pressure, that's just as unpredictable - any attempt you used to alter the air pressure of your target would be influenced by the ambient air conditions, creating unpredictable vortices and causing your ball lightning to go careening out of control. If you have enough control over the air pressure in the area to reliably send a ball lighting towards a target, there are much more efficient ways of inflicting damage than shooting ball lighting at them.

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    $\begingroup$ Directing lightning is fairly simple by using laser pulses to ionize air, which creates an extremely low-resistance path for a high-voltage discharge to follow. This sort of thing has been done for at least 20 years. Not sure why you are convinced that you need to somehow alter the target. $\endgroup$ – pluckedkiwi Feb 22 '18 at 19:02
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You might launch an apparatus out of your railgun that generates your ball lighnting mid-air, that would have the added bonus of the apparatus's kinetic energy plus the terrifying ball of electricity

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The SHIVA STAR Project utilizing ultra-high energy capacitors experimented with this and eventually became the top-secret MARAUDER program and ceased reporting results. What you describe is actually a high energy plasma toroid weapon. Once the plasma toroid (ball lightning) impacts something it explodes violently releasing immense heat and a burst of x-rays and to a lesser degree gamma radiation and other electromagnetic effects capable of frying electronics. Its not very effecient in atmosphere though, plasma blooming means you need monumental power levels to project the plasma toroid even a short distance before atmospheric bloom causes the toroid to lose coherency. It would be an excellent space weapon though. Heres a link: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/MARAUDER

Heres a photo of the capacitor bank they used in SHIVA STAR prior to going top secret: enter image description here

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