Science: Lightning Tamers

Plunging directly into the massive dark thunderheads high above northeastern Colorado, the World War II-vintage B-26 released its payload: a swarm of tiny, aluminum-coated strands of fiber glass. The strange—and dangerous—flight was part of science's latest attempt to tame one of nature's most spectacular and damaging phenomena: lightning storms.

Lightning strikes somewhere on the earth roughly 100 times every second. It is a greater killer, on the average, than hurricanes or tornadoes, causing hundreds of deaths each year in the U.S. alone, and sets off the majority of forest fires. The ancients believed...

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