What does it look like when a person gets struck by lightning?

August 30, 2014  22:30

Back in 1777, German physicist Professor Georg Lichtenberg made a curious discovery; when dust in the air settled on electrically charged plates, beautiful tree-like “dust figures” formed. Lichtenberg believed that these figures showed the motion of the electric field. The figures, which were later named Lichtenberg figures, sparked a great amount of interest in scientists and philosophers because they believed they demonstrated the true nature of the electric field. Today, we know that Lichtenberg figures are branching patterns that may be created when high voltage electrical discharges pass either along the surface or through insulating materials. 

As Iflscience.com reports, when lightning strikes some people they develop Lichtenberg figures across their skin. For example, a 2000 report from the New England Journal of Medicine described the case of a 54-year-old man who was struck by lightning. He was initially stuporous, but by the time he got to the emergency room he seemed well and upon further examination it was discovered that he had a fern-leaf pattern of painless cutaneous marks across his arm, back and leg. The marks disappeared just two days later. 

Although these marks look pretty damn cool, they are extremely rare, and most people come off much worse when struck by lightning! So don't try to recreate them at home by shocking yourself. Remember that around 10% of lightning-stroke victims die, and 70% will suffer serious long-term problems such brain damage and personality changes. 

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