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January-February 2016

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Weather Front

Lightning Packs a Punch

What does lightning have in common with a meteorite? Ten gigapascals of force for one. That's equivalent to 20 million times the force of a boxer's punch, and it's the force scientists believe it takes to deform quartz into structures called shock lamellae. Previously attributed only to meteorite strikes, the distinctive fingerprints of extreme pressure waves were found in a sample of rock taken from an outcropping in southern France.       

KIMBRA CUTLIP is a freelance writer and former assistant editor for Weatherwise.       

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