Why lightning strikes twice as often over shipping lanes

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For all the progress humanity has made since Odysseus had a spot of trouble on a long voyage home, life on the high seas remains a largely joyless affair. Twenty-first-century sailors spend weeks away from home. The hours are long, the pay mediocre, the risk of calamity never quite over the horizon. And, researchers have recently learned, these men and women face a problem not even the King of Ithaca had to deal with: unnaturally large amounts of lightning. Turns out that along some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, lightning strikes are twice as common as they are in nearby areas with similar climatic conditions.

As usual in such stories, the blame doesn’t fall on a riled up Olympian. It goes to the hubris of humans who, in this case, thought their ships could burn filthy fuel without any judgement raining down.

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