Episode 51: Mysterious ball lightning with Karl Stephan

Karl Stephan
Karl Stephan

Texas State University’s Karl Stephan, a professor in the Ingram School of Engineering, joins the Big Ideas TXST podcast to discuss his research into the mysterious phenomenon of ball lightning.  

A poorly understood natural phenomenon, ball lightning has been reported throughout history. Ranging in size from a pea to a basketball, the glowing orbs can appear in various colors, either transparent or translucent. Ball lightning has been reported at ground level and by airplanes. The spheres can last for many seconds, unlike the brief flash of traditional lightning, and can hover, rise, fall or move against the wind in unpredictable ways. No satisfactory hypothesis has described the cause of ball lightning and researchers have yet to successfully recreate it under laboratory conditions. 

Stephan joined the TXST faculty in 2000 after an extended period teaching at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He earned his master of engineering degree from Cornell University in 1977 and his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983. 

Big Ideas TXST is part of the TXST Podcast Network.

About the Show

Big Ideas TXST goes inside the fascinating minds forging innovation, research and creativity at Texas State University and beyond. Hosted by Daniel Seed, episodes showcase the thought leaders, breakthroughs and creative expression making the world a better place, one BIG idea at a time. Produced by University Communications at Texas State.

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About the Host

Daniel Seed is a lecturer in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University, specializing in electronic media. Prior to coming to Texas State, he worked as a news reporter and anchor, sports director and sports anchor during a career that began at WHDH-TV in Boston and continued at stations in Oklahoma and Texas. He is three-time winner of the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters Outstanding Achievement in Broadcasting Award for best sportscast (non-metro category) and a winner of the OAB’s Outstanding Achievement in Broadcasting Awards for Spot News and General News.

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