In the Beginning there was Lightning
By Robert Lovenheim
June was the month of thunderstorms, and July looks like more of the same. The next time dark clouds close out the daylight, still keep a safe distance but enjoy the show! I recommend one of those comfy canvas camp chairs on a covered porch or inside an opened garage. As the thunder booms and the sky turns gunmetal gray, you’ll feel the wind change direction and chill. Thunder grows louder and rain splats slap the driveway.
Suddenly the dark sky lights for a millisecond, pinioning every object in blue-white light. Count the seconds until the thunder crack blasts. Divide the seconds by 5 to estimate miles in the distance; the sound can travel one mile in about 5 seconds. If the seconds get shorter, start thinking. Is it moving our way? Will the power stay on? Does my phone still work?
A few things to consider before a storm:
- Fully charge any electronic devices and portable chargers you have.
- Have matches & candles/flashlights & batteries handy.
- Fill your bathtub with water and put a bucket by the toilet to flush.
- Clean and fill water containers with drinking water.
- Make sure you have snacks that don’t require electricity to prepare.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy.
- Keep a news source line open, whether it is a radio or website.
Now that you’re prepared, time travel to an earth 3.5 billion years ago, before life evolved, where the land was pocked with volcanoes caked in basalt. The skies, fed by the steam from the volcanoes, are roiled with dark-as-night thunder clouds. The strike of each lightning arc of 300 million volts shatters the chemical structure of the basalt, releasing phosphorus, while the pelting rain provides moisture to join it with other elements that make up the basic building blocks of DNA. Eventually, something began oozing out of the slime that could direct itself, reproduce itself, grow and change. Life. That camp chair in the garage is a mighty good seat for a show where I can think such amazing thoughts.