Lichtenberg Figures from Lightning Strikes

Lichtenberg figures;

Lichtenberg Burns - Modern HealthMe, Healthline, WebMD
Lichtenberg Burns /Figures


Lightning strikes are powerful natural phenomena that can cause significant damage to anything they touch. One lesser-known effect of lightning strikes is Lichtenberg burns, named after the German physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who first documented them in the 18th century.

What are Lichtenberg figures?

Lichtenberg burns, also known as lightning tree scars or lightning flowers, are intricate and often beautiful patterns that can appear on the skin of a person struck by lightning or on objects struck by lightning, such as trees or buildings. These burns result from the passage of electrical current through or over the surface of an object.

How Do They Occur?

When lightning strikes an object, it can generate an enormous amount of heat. This intense heat can cause the moisture within the object to turn into steam almost instantaneously. As the steam rapidly expands, it creates pressure within the object, leading to explosive effects. The electrical current from the lightning can also travel across the surface of the object, leaving behind intricate patterns as it does so.

Characteristics of Lichtenberg Burns

  • Appearance: Lichtenberg burns often resemble branching patterns, similar to the fractal patterns found in nature.
  • Depth: Depending on the severity of the strike, Lichtenberg burns can range from superficial marks on the skin to deeper burns that penetrate the tissue.
  • Color: The color of Lichtenberg burns can vary, ranging from reddish-brown to black, depending on factors such as the temperature reached during the lightning strike and the material of the object affected.

Potential Risks

While Lichtenberg burns can create visually stunning patterns, they are also indicative of a potentially life-threatening event. Lightning strikes can cause severe injuries, including burns, cardiac arrest, and neurological damage. Even survivors of lightning strikes can suffer from long-term health effects, such as memory loss, chronic pain, and emotional trauma.

Safety Precautions

To minimize the risk of experiencing Lichtenberg burns or other injuries from lightning strikes, it’s essential to follow safety precautions during thunderstorms:

  • Seek shelter indoors or in a sturdy structure at the first sign of a thunderstorm.
  • Avoid open fields, tall trees, bodies of water, and metal objects during thunderstorms.
  • If caught outdoors with no shelter available, crouch low to the ground, with as little of your body touching the ground as possible, and wait for the storm to pass.

Lichtenberg burns serve as a reminder of the immense power and unpredictability of lightning strikes. While they can create captivating patterns, they also highlight the importance of taking precautions to stay safe during thunderstorms. By understanding the risks associated with lightning strikes and taking appropriate safety measures, we can reduce the likelihood of experiencing Lichtenberg burns and other lightning-related injuries.

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