Lightning is an atmospheric electrostatic charge (spark) usually accompanied with thunder and typically appearing during thunderstorms.
The exact reasons and conditions behind the generation of lightning are still unknown. Furthermorethere are numerous kinds of lightning phenomena. The most common form of lightning is the so-called "negative lightning". A strong electric field is generated within the clouds, accumulating negative charge. Consequently positive charges are concentrating on the ground where the lightning is about to strike. The actual lightning strike consists of multiple consecutive bolts of electricity, typically listed in 3 stages:
- Stepped Leader: The initial lightning strike coming from the skies downward. It's a relatively thin bolt of lightning which is generally invisible.
- Return Stroke: After a very brief interval the ground surges a lightning bolt back to skies. It's a strong positive charge and usually consist the visible part of the lightning phenomenon.
- Dart Leader: After a return stroke the clouds send down another lightning bolt called the dart stroke. Each consecutive bolt is weaker than the previous dart stroke and induces a weaker return stroke. Obviously, dart strokes are also weaker than the stepped leader.
In short the actual lightning is a quick two way charge transfer which continues on until the quantity of positive and negative charges are relatively equal between the ground and the storm cloud. The number of lightning strikes can vary greatly from the usual 15 strokes to more than 200 strikes, all of them under just a split second.
Further information on:
- Lightning Facts
- HyperPhysics's pages on lightning
Usage in the OBD:
Lightning is typically used as a measure to show a character possess incredible speed or reactions. Reacting against a lightning bolt is considered lightning-timing, characters with lightning-timing feats are the lightning-timers.
Lightning bolts are extremely fast, The step leader of the lightning travels at 60 kilometers per second at bare minimum. Although its average velocity is 150km/sand there are leader bolts as fast as 2250km/s. Without an exception real lightning bolts are massively hypersonic. The return stroke is even fasterand they top out at nigh-relativistic speeds. Although it's extremely rare for characters to react against a return strike (mainly because the authors are unaware of the lightning physics).
Characters reacting to a lightning bolt can have varying speed. Like any similar feat, this also depends extremely on the respective distance. The standard distance between the storm clouds and the ground is about 3 kilometers. A character barely avoiding the lightning from that range would have the "amazing" speed of less than 50 m/s. So there needs to be more extreme circumstances for them to be considered in the hypersonic or the massively hypersonic range. There are rare cases when the character even outruns the lightning. In the most extreme cases this can make a character reach absurd levels of speed.
Aside from being a measure of speed, tanking a lightning strike is durability feat worth a mention. While generally the lightning bolts are barely above wall/tree level in destructive power they are essentially a stream of supercharged plasma. This zig-zagging beam of electric energy has the average heat of 30,000 degrees Celsius, making it more than 20 times hotter than magma (although the lightning's ephemerality and minimal mass means it has much less time to transfer all that temperature). A lightning strike also has the voltage of at least several hundred million volts and carries an amperage of 10,000 to 200,000 A (NOTE: the small charge of 0.1 A is already lethal to humans). It's also worth mentioning that a moderate lightning strike generates several hundred megawatts of energy (avg. 500 Mj per lightning bolt). In short you must be pretty tough to be unfazed by a real lightning. Although surviving a lightning bolt is possibleand there are a number of documented lucky cases when humans survived a direct lightning strike.
Differentiating real lightning from pseudo-lightning:
By an unwritten rule the OBD only accepts cloud-to-earth lightning as a legitimate base for calculating lightning-timing feats. There are two reasons:
- First, amongst the long list of fictions there are tons of cases when characters shoot lightning attacks, (usually by some sort of magic or ki manipulation). As such to avoid severe speed outliers the OBD only considers lightning bolts naturally generated from the sky as real lightning, thus literally being lightning-fast.
- Second, lightning is a specific form of electric charge transfer. While lightning bolts are massively hypersonic, the general travel speed of an electric charge is extremely variable. As such electric attacks generated from sources other than the clouds might as well be called a different form of energy blasts. They are both technically unquantifiable in speed.
Characters with accepted lightning-timing feats:
- Ragna the Bloodedge and Hazama (Blazblue)
- Chinmei (Samurai Deeper Kyo)
- Jack Rakan (Mahou Sensei Negima)
- Kirin (666 Satan)
Characters that can move at the speed of lightning:
- Enel, only for traveling long distances similar to teleportation (One Piece)
- Negi Springfield and certain Averruncus units in their lightning forms (Mahou Sensei Negima)
- Laxus Dreher, only for traveling long distances (Fairy Tail)
- Phosphora (Kid Icarus)
Characters that outran lightning:
- Goku in his true form (Saiyuki)
- Nina Antalk (Chrome Shelled Regios)
- Sonic (Sonic X)
Abilities, characters, or weapons that can call REAL lightning strikes:
- Sauce's Kirin (Naruto)
- Enel's El Thor (One Piece)
- Fried'rich von Purg'stall (The Guyver)
-Misaka Mikoto (To Aru Majutsu No Index)
- Rachel Alucard (Blazblue)
- Sasuke Sarutobi (Samurai Deeper Kyo)
- Shake King (Wario series)
Characters with unaccepted or false claims of lightning-timing feats:
- Bayonetta (Bayonetta)
- Kid Goku (Dragon Ball)
- Kratos (God of War) - Ironically, this feat became even more impressive because of that