In "Back to the Future" movie the characters try to power the time machine installed into a car by diverting a lighting.
They know that a lightning should strike the clock installed on a specific building at a specific moment of time. For the time travel to happen they need a huge jolt of energy and the car moving at 88 miles per hour. So they attach a thick wire (looks like a thick steel cable) to the clock and position that wire above the road at the height slightly greater than the height of the car, install a conductive rod onto the car and somehow connect that rod to the time machine.
They drive the car to the wire so that the lightning strikes exactly at the same moment when the rod on the car touches the wire and so the lightning energy goes into the rod and into the time machine in the car.
I always wondered whether this is practically possible (time travel aside of course).
I expect the following two problems:
- for the whole thing to function the rod has to touch the wire at exactly the right moment and the electric discharge happens at about the speed of light which is damn fast TM, so precise enough timing can't be achieved without a computer but in the movie the car is being driven by one of the characters
- when the lightning strikes the clock and runs down the wire it will likely ionize the surrounding air and discharge into the ground underneath the wire before reaching the road
The first problem can be solved by using a computer to drive the car. The second problem can perhaps be solved by insulating the wire everywhere except above the road. Neither seems to have been done in the movie.
Are there any other problems in that electrical setup? Can it technically work?