Of all the forms of lightning, ball lightning is, beyond any doubt, the most rare and mysterious. Even though it was discussed by Aristotle in the 4th century B.C. in his work on meterology, and has, in the intervening years been reported by thousands of reliable observers, it has only recently gained acceptance as a real phenomenon by the majority of scientific authorities. A survey conducted at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1960 by J. Rand McNally, Jr. asked l5,923 employees if they had witnessed ball lightning, resulting in 515 positive replies. Sufficient evidence has now been accumulated to form a fairly compelling case for the existence of ball lightning, although its characteristics are such that no theory thus far submitted provides a satisfactory explanation.
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