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Santelmo

The Santelmo (St. Elmo's Fire) is a creature of Philippine mythology. The term santelmo is the shortened form of the Tagalog words "Apoy ni San Elmo "-"St. Elmo's Fire". St. Elmo's Fire has long served as an omen of heavenly intervention to sailors. The ancient Greeks termed a single jet of the fire, Helena, and a double jet, Castor and Pollux. It has also been known by the names St. Nicholas and St. Hermes, corpusante and Corpus Santos. The name of St. Elmo is attributed to an Italian derivation of Sant 'Ermo or St. Erasmus (c. 300), the patron saint of the early Mediterranean sailors challenging the powers of storm and sea in small sailing vessels.

Physical Appearance

St. Elmo's Fires have ranged from a ghostly dancing flame to natural fireworks. It usually is of a blue or bluish-white colour attached to fixed, grounded conductors and has a lifetime of minutes. The flame is heatless and non-consuming, occasionally accompanied by a hissing sound. These latter properties prove the myths of spiritual presence. The biblical burning bush that was not consumed may have been displaying one form of St. Elmo's Fire.

Scientific explanation

Ball lightning is a natural phenomenon, or debatably, a pseudoscientific theory. It is sometimes associated with thunderstorms. It takes the form of a long-lived, glowing, floating object, as opposed to the short-lived arcing between two points commonly associated with lightning. An early attempt to explain ball lightning was recorded by Nikola Tesla on March 5, 1904.

There may, however, be special forms of plasma for which the above arguments do not fully apply. In particular, a plasma may be composed of negative and positive ions, rather than electrons and positive ions. In that case, the recombination may be rather slow even at ambient temperature. One such theory involves positively charged hydrogen and negatively charged nitrites (NO2–) and nitrates (NO3–). In that theory, the role of the ions as seeds for the condensation of water droplets plays an important role.

Ball lightning has also been seen to appear inside an aircraft, which has a metallic skin. Since the electric field cannot penetrate metal, there is a possibility ball lightning could be some form of induction phenomenon.

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