April 14, 2008 A team of European scientists has deliberately triggered electrical activity in thunderclouds for the first time, according to a new paper in the latest issue of Optics Express, the Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal. They did this by aiming high-power pulses of laser light into a thunderstorm. The laser beams were supplied by the Teramobile - a nine-ton portable terawatt and femtosecond laser which fits inside a standard six-meter freight container. Its pulses have an instantaneous power of 5 terawatts (5TW = 5 x 1012W or the power equivalent of a thousand nuclear reactors) and a duration of approximately 100 femtoseconds (1013 s.).
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