Flash of insight

One of the great things about being a science journalist is reporting from the field. In late August I traveled to Socorro, N.M., to visit the Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research at New Mexico Tech.

This is the country’s pre-eminent historical laboratory for chasing that common but mysterious atmospheric phenomenon that you and I know as lightning.

I spent one day at the New Mexico Tech campus doing interviews, and the next rattling around at Langmuir’s mountaintop facility near the little town of Magdalena. To get there you drive west from Socorro and then up, up, up a winding dirt road to the top of South Baldy mountain, around 10,000 feet high. Then you spend an afternoon hoping that lightning will strike — literally.

We didn’t get any lightning strikes the day I was there, but you can read about the intrepid Langmuir researchers (and other lightning scientists) in my Science News feature. And you can see more photographs from my trip on my Flickr page.


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