Being one of the world’s leading lightning experts is perilous business. For UNH’s Joseph Dwyer, it meant mistakenly flying a small plane into a violent thunderstorm. “I really thought I was going to die,” Dwyer, the Peter T. Paul Chair in Space Sciences within the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space told Nature about the 2009 experience. But the terrifying flight had an upside: Inside the thunderstorm, Dwyer and his colleagues encountered a large, unexpected cloud of positrons, the antimatter opposite of electrons. The discovery, described in the Journal of Plasma Physics in May, helps explain how lightning gets initiated within a thunderstorm, one of the field’s enduring mysteries.
Originally published in UNH Magazine—Fall 2015 Issue