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Florida Institute of Technology professor presents "The Mysteries of Lightning"

2/25/2009 —

Penn State Lehigh Valley welcomes Dr. Joseph R. Dwyer, professor in the Department of Physics and Space Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology, as the next featured speaker in its Faculty Invitational Lecture Series. Dr. Dwyer will present "The Mysteries of Lightning" at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25, 2009, in the Atrium at the Lehigh Valley campus in Fogelsville.  

In this presentation, Dr. Dwyer will discuss what is known and not known about the fascinating natural phenomenon of lightning. According to Dr. Dwyer, lightning strikes planet Earth more than 3 million times each day. On average, it kills more Americans than hurricanes or tornados and causes billions of dollars in losses and damages in the United States each year. Despite its familiarity, exactly how lightning works has remained a great mystery to scientists. For instance, there is still not a clear understanding of how lightning gets started inside thunderclouds, or how it manages to travel through miles of air from the clouds to the ground, where it can potentially hurt or kill people. Very recently, researchers have made the surprising discovery that lightning emits large bursts of x-rays. This research is now giving new insight into how lightning works, allowing scientists the opportunity to study lightning with "x-ray vision." 

Dr. Joseph Dwyer received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago in 1994. He worked as a research scientist at Columbia University and the University of Maryland before joining the faculty at Florida Tech in 2000. His work on x-ray emission from lightning has been featured on the National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, BBC, and Nova ScienceNOW. 

The Faculty Invitational Lecture Series at Penn State Lehigh Valley aims to enhance the academic year by inviting scholars from a variety of disciplines to share their insights with the campus and community.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact the University Relations Office at 610-285-5067.

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