When lightning travels through air, its fractal extensions and plasma-infused tendrils are only present for a fleeting fraction of a second. This makes studying those patterns a bit difficult, obviously.
You could use an expensive high-speed camera to capture the phenomenon at >7,000 frames per second, but there’s a much cheaper method: Pump 15,000 volts through plywood.
That’s what Melanie Hoff did above. Sure, it’s not a perfect recreation of a meteorological event, but the slow creep of fractal zaps makes their patterns, and how they are created, jump out. A lesson in math, or weather? You decide.
(via Open Culture)