04 March 2012

Lightning coming...

I think I literally cringed when I saw the photo above, entitled "My mom hiking in Chile during an electrical storm."  She could have been milliseconds away from receiving a surge of energy that can explode tree trunks and fuse sand into glass.  But she and a friend are taking photos of their hair.

Via Reddit, where the risk and countermeasures are discussed, and where earlier this week I found a thread about this man -

- who has a Lichtenberg figure on his arm (see also here).


  1. I saw that top photo the other day and immediately cringed. They are lucky to be alive. Exposed ridge, obvious charge, I would be getting my ass off of that ridge.

    I can still remember in high school I was in New Mexico in the little town of Bluewater. We were eating lunch in someone's backyard under a big, but solitary tree. Clear skies, some clouds in the distance, hot, dry. All of a sudden you could feel all your hairs rising. In the time it took for people to feel it and look at each other...


    The tree got struck and luckily no one was hurt but it was terrifying.

  2. Good heavens, that's not a Vandergraph generator they're holding, it's just a camera. Yeah, if your hair is doing that without the aid of a generator, GTFO! Aaack. I'm glad they're (apparently) alive to giggle at the pictures.

  3. Top picture...That right there is natural selection at work.

  4. Natural selection, pft, whatever. Don't be such a twit. If you don't know what is happening, you can't react appropriately.

    I have seen that happen to someone I was standing beside. We knew what it was, but didn't have an option on where to be. Natural selection? Nope. Just one of those wrong place, wrong time. No lightning strike, though. Doesn't always happen.

  5. Had something similar happen to me and my family: We got out of the car after a pretty wicked thunderstorm to watch the sunset. I saw our hair standing up straight and so I yelled for us to get back in the car. They all thought I was a loon until I explained why. No lightning strike occured but it was a pretty freaky experience. When I was a little girl the same thing happened and lightning struck a flag pole near us. Very scary!

  6. My father loved to tell the story about when he was cooling off in a lake in southern Ontario in the 1940s and he and all his friends' hair stood up like this. In southern Ontario tiny little thunderstorms can whip up in no time and take you by surprise. I remember an immaculate blue-sky summer day when I saw a cloud -- one solitary, not particularly large cloud -- in the distance. Ten minutes later, I heard thunder. Five minutes later, drenching rain came down. Ten minutes later, the sky was once again immaculately clear. It was one of those things you had to experience to believe.


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