“Lightning-Fire from the Sky” is a detailed, readable account of a phenomenon that has fascinated humankind since prehistoric man hid in caves when thunder pealed overhead. As the world’s population has grown, the risk of injury or death by lightning has steadily increased—but is still so rare that many medical professionals do not know how to treat its victims. The author, an electrical engineer, brings the complex physics of lightning strikes alive in a graphic but non-technical way designed to appeal to a general reader audience. The book is
“Lightning-Fire from the Sky” is a detailed, readable account of a phenomenon that has fascinated humankind since prehistoric man hid in caves when thunder pealed overhead. As the world’s population has grown, the risk of injury or death by lightning has steadily increased—but is still so rare that many medical professionals do not know how to treat its victims. The author, an electrical engineer, brings the complex physics of lightning strikes alive in a graphic but non-technical way designed to appeal to a general reader audience. The book is enhanced by a comprehensive photographic treatment that includes some never-before-published photographs of lightning and its effects. The book opens with a foreword by Dr. Martin A. Uman, the world’s best known lightning expert, who describes new developments in our ability to forecast dangerous storms that may pose lightning risks. The chapters that follow describe the history of the pioneering lightning researchers (some of who got close enough to their subject to be killed by it), and then describe in an understandable manner the complex chain of events that precipitate a lightning strike. The various forms of lightning are portrayed. The effect of electricity on the human body is described, along with characteristic symptoms that victims might ask their medical practitioners to investigate and possibly treat. The variations in lightning effects on human beings are dramatized through a series of first person accounts. Another chapter deals with the effects of lightning on property—buildings, transportation systems of all types, and electric utilities and other critical infrastructure—and discusses the best means to provide lightning protection for property. Finally, new developments in research, lightning prediction, and prevention are examined. The book includes an annotated bibliography of lightning literature.
Never again will I be able to simply look out the window and enjoy the awesome beauty of a dramatic mid-summer thunderstorm. In LIGHTNING: Fire from the Sky, Craig Smith lays out a stark warning to all to beware the power and danger of this still only partially understood natural phenomenon. He underscores his message with chilling accounts of the real-life experiences of golfers, boaters, hikers, fishermen, swimmers, mountaineers, and everyday people who have come face-to-face with lightning&#x
LIGHTNING: Fire from the Sky is a comprehensive, entertaining and informative explanation of one of the most awesome forces in nature. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it on three different levels. First, as an avid hiker, sailor and golfer, I picked up valuable insights on what I should and should not do to protect myself when a thunderstorm approaches. Second, as an R&D professional, I appreciated Craig’s ability to clearly explain complex subjects, from the physics of lightening to the phy
Craig B. Smith’s undergraduate degree is in electrical engineering at Stanford University, where he was first exposed to the world of high voltage engineering at the university’s Ryan Laboratory for High Voltage Research. As an undergraduate research assistant working for Professor R. A. Helliwell, Smith spent hours in an attic cubicle, performing calculations on recordings of “whistlers,” low frequency radio signals caused by lightning strikes. This was the first step in a lifelong interest in lightning and other electrical phenomena.
Smith has for nearly 40 years been involved in the engineering and construction of large, complex projects. He has served as a project manager, construction manager, or executive-in-charge on diverse projects including earthquake simulation tests on nuclear power plants and dams; construction of a waste-to-energy power plant; design and construction of numerous laboratory and research facilities employing advanced technologies; airport expansion programs; and the renovation of the Pentagon. His projects have taken him to many parts of the world: Brazil, Peru, Chile, Mexico, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Egypt, England, Germany, Finland, Norway, and others.
Smith’s professional career began as an assistant professor of engineering at UCLA. After seven years at UCLA, he co founded ANCO Engineers, Inc. From 1988 to 1992 he was the president of FSEC, a Los Angeles architecture/engineering/construction firm, then joined AECOM Technology Corporation, one of the world’s largest architecture, engineering and construction companies, as a vice president of Daniel, Mann, Johnson, and Mendenhall (DMJM). He was subsequently promoted to senior vice president, executive vice president, and chief operating officer. In 1999, he was named president of Holmes and Narver, Inc. In 2001, when DMJM and Holmes and Narver merged, he became the president of the combined companies, which are now called DMJM H+N. In 2003 he became chairman of DMJM H+N, a company with 3,000 employees.
Smith’s other books include Efficient Electricity Use, (2nd ed.) Pergamon Press, Oxford, England, 1977, named “outstanding academic book of the year” by the American Library Association’s Choice magazine; Energy Management Principles, Pergamon Press, Oxford, England, 1981; and How the Great Pyramid Was Built, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., 2004.