Although mankind has been observing the phenomenon of ball lightning for many centuries, there is still not a single indisputable model of its work. And if you go from the other side, thought the Finnish scientists from Aalto University, construct something similar, and then study its characteristics? They managed to get in the laboratory a tiny version of skyrmion, a quasiparticle that could become a platform for transformation into ball lightning or something more.
The Finns took the Bose-Einstein condensate as a basis for the experiment, a substance so supercooled that its atoms actually lost their energy of motion. Scientists have selected a magnetic field with such parameters that when the spins of the atoms are exposed to the center of the conditional model, a field with zero charge is formed. Then the spins of the atoms around it turned around and intertwined into a kind of a single ring-shaped structure. This is the skyrmion, a quasiparticle, the existence of which was predicted back in 1962.
Further experiments began, from which two important conclusions were drawn. First, the skyrmion can be moved and acted upon, while the ring never opens while the special structure of the magnetic field is in effect. Secondly, to create such a field, two correctly selected oppositely circulating electric currents are sufficient. That is, in theory, a superstable electromagnetic node can be generated from the discharge of an ordinary lightning and remain to exist on its own - as in ancient legends.
A quasiparticle created by Finnish scientists has a quantum effect; it does not exist without activating its magnetic field. Plus, the laboratory skyrmion is very tiny, it still grows and grows before the "real" ball lightning. But if scientists really succeed in obtaining such an object, and even in a controlled form, this will mean a breakthrough in plasma control technologies and a chance to create fundamentally new types of reactors.