Have you heard the one about the tractor that kept starting on its own? It is thought that lightning strikes are what caused the 1950s tractor, which belongs to a Mr Horace Camp, to start all of its own accord. According to Mr Camp, the lawn on which the farm vehicle had been parked was struck twice by lightning during a thunderstorm that was so severe 9mm of rain fell in just a few hours. Mr Camp recalls what happened, “After the storm was over I happened to hear the tractor was running, and I couldn’t understand why my son would want to do that after there had been such an enormous downfall. The tractor was just there alone by itself happily going. It wasn’t in gear, so it wasn’t moving, but it was happily going,” he said. When Mr Camp tracked down his son to ask him why he got the Massey Ferguson 35 tractor running in such bad weather, it turns out that he too had gone out during the thunderstorm to turn the engine off. “It actually started twice during the storm by itself,” added Mr Camp and he believes he knows why, “The tractor had its metal link box touching the lawn so the electricity comes up through that and created a field which connected the starter motor,” Mr Camp said. So as the lightning “struck the earth somewhere near and has created a negative electric field on my lawn”. Sound plausible? Dr Vidyadhar Peesapati from the University of Manchester’s High Voltage Laboratory thinks it could be, as he says lightning is known to create an electro-magnetic pulse which has a strong interference, and “maybe could have somehow aided in starting the tractor”. Before nailing his colours to the mast however, he needs to inspect the tractor in the University’s lab. Perhaps then finally the theory that lightning does strike twice will be proven once and for all.