Ball Lightning Solved? Frankenstein was Right?

From National Geographic News, January 22, 2007:

Physicist Antonio Pavão and doctoral student Gerson Paiva of the Federal University of Pernambuco have created orbs of electricity about the size of golf balls that mimic natural ball lightning ... Most of the artificial orbs lasted two to five seconds, but at least one has survived as long as eight seconds - approximating natural ball lightning and far exceeding previous efforts to create the phenomenon in the lab.

More about ball lightning, and similar occurrences, at Sean B. Palmer's

The Informnauka Agency also released a press release in early February which, translated into English from its native Russian, was entitled "Could lightning give rise to life?":

Specialists of the Institute of Geology of Komi Research Center of Ural Branch and the Institute of Natural Resources, Ecology and Cryology, Siberian Branch have for the first time described the formation that results from a stroke of lightning into a plant - phytofulgurite ... When the owner raked away the ashes [caused by a lightning strike], he noticed a small flat, blue-black, fibrous, glassy piece of unknown substance ... The main elements making part of [the substance] are carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur, the rest - approximately a third - being oxygen and trace elements ... At that, 95 percent of [the substance's] amino acids belonged to left isomers, as it occurs in living organisms. Nevertheless, these amino acids could not be remains of grass – at such temperature all organic matter burns down completely.