Ball lightning (those bright spheres of light during some thunderstorms) remains mysterious despite decades of study. But how are you supposed to get a better look at it in a lab? Researchers might have discovered how through a happy accident: create a tangled atomic mess. They created a Shankar skyrmion, a quasiparticle whose artificial magnetic field, it turns out, mimics the electrical and magnetic fields of ball lightning. The team applied a magnetic field to a Bose-Einstein condensate (a state of matter for boson gas cooled to near absolute zero), in this case made of rubidium, to get the atoms to spin along the surface of a ball yet twist inside that ball.