The Global Energy Prize laureate 2003

Gennady Mesyats tamed the lightning bolt


According to statistics, almost each year a lightning hits a passenger airplane midflight, and it hardly ever leads to an accident. Today’s air liners take such incidents quite easy as they are equipped well enough to meet with atmospheric electricity: each aircraft is tested for a stroke of lightning in course of production testing. Yet, for such tests a controlled and “domesticated” lightning is needed. It was Dr. Gennady Andreevich Mesyats, a Laureate of the Global Energy Prize, who tamed the lightning bolt. It’s no coincidence that he mentioned that very application of his invention at the awarding ceremony.

The graduation work was soon followed by two genuine and undoubted discoveries, officially registered. Even mature scientists can hardly ever boast such an achievement. The phenomenon of explosive electronic emission, an avalanche-type increase of electron emission as a result of anode explosion is now called the Mesyats Effect. He was able to see in details what happens when a discharge occurs between a cathode and an anode. It turned out that before a disruptive discharge, a lightning, there occur micro-explosions of minor irregularities in a cathode that always exist – and metal fuses, explodes, throwing out fused drops. Thus, physicists saw for the first time how a man-made lightning strikes, and succeeded in controlling it. A special treatment of irregularities on a cathode enabled them to receive much more powerful nanosecond pulses.

So thanks to his non-standard vision of things, the young physicist succeeded in something nobody else could…

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