LPF Site Supporter
- May 9, 2011
It's cool, but not really a "new" phenomenon at all. Pulsed lasers have been able to create air breakdown for decades. I've seen it in action first somewhere in the 90s, though i'm not sure about how loud the sound was exactly. Definitely loud as in >80 dB for a meter or two away, but noting like 130.
It is unlikely. What you are referring to is known as St. Elmo's fire. It is the fluorescence of O2 and N2 molecules in the air when it is dark outside by electric fields from clouds and the ground or water of ~100 kV/m. It is most notable on sharp objects as the electric field can be less at curved objects. Things like mast heads of sailing ships and lightning rods are good examples of where it can be seen at night during electrical storms.