Re: theory(?) for long sparks

From: 	Malcolm Watts[SMTP:MALCOLM-at-directorate.wnp.ac.nz]
Sent: 	Sunday, November 30, 1997 5:38 PM
To: 	Tesla List
Subject: 	Re: theory(?) for long sparks

Bert, all,
           Just to inject a note into this *very* interesting 
discussion, you can greatly lengthen high voltage sparks by 
providing a few intermediate "steps" such as isolated bits of metal. 
It seems that by providing intermediate non-dissipative energy stores, 
the charge can be made to propagate further and further. This might 
well be the mechanism at work in the "tracking along the insulator" 
scenario. I think our streamers are doing this on successive breaks. 
I remember Richard Hull mentioned this mechanism once.
    The mechanism seems to be that once a streamer attaches to an 
intermediate step, charge is stored in the step and probably gets 
significantly near the original voltage because of the rather low 
impedance of the attached streamer. If my understanding of stepped 
leader formation in lightning is correct, this is much the same.
The forming spark travels some distance, then regroups as charge 
accumulates at this point for the next part of the total leap.

More speculatin',