Burn Baby Burn!

August 14, 2014

What’s up dudes and dudettes? Iggy here. And today, since my co-host Victoria has oh-so-generously allowed me to have my very own space on OUR website that WE share, I get to talk about whatever I want.  So today, I want to talk about burns. Not just any burns. Gnarly, gruesome, I-Can’t-Believe-You-Survived burns. Why? Because I think they’re cool and this is my space, that’s why.

Iggy LightningMy favorite type — and believe me, I’ve been around the block with these things — is a type of scar that forms from being STRUCK BY LIGHTNING. I mean, already that’s a rad kind of burn because in order to get it, you were STRUCK BY LIGHTING. How punk rock is that?

A bolt of lightning carries about 300,000 volts of energy and heats the air around it to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is really freaking hot. Take the surface of the sun and multiply it by five, and that’s how hot we’re talking.

Now imagine all that striking your skin and living to tell about it. Like “What’d you do yesterday, bro?” “Oh nothing much, ran some errands, watched some TV, got 300kv of electricity inserted into my skin. No big deal.”

Now, normally, when lightning strikes your skin it causes a gruesome superficial burn to the area that was hit, but in some cases, a feathery branch-like formation appears. This type of keraunographic marking is called a Lichentenberg figure, named after my homie, German physicist George (you guessed it) Lichtenberg. He discovered that dust makes this awesome looking tree-branch formation when it’s exposed to electrical plates back in the 1700s. That’s even before your mom was born, OHH BURN (haha, burn, see what I did there).

Lichtenberg_figure_in_block_of_PlexiglasIt happened to this one guy, Winston Kemp, a few years ago. He went out one night in the middle of a storm to try to save his pumpkins, and got – wait for it – STRUCK BY LIGHTNING! No word on what happened to his pumpkins, but what happened to him is pretty cool. At first he didn’t even know he’d been hit, but then an hour later, all these crazy formations appeared on his arm. Turns out, they were Lichtenberg figures.

So think about this: your odds of getting struck by lightning are 1 in a million, and out of that, only a very small percentage of those people develop those awesome feathery scars.  Now that’s luck. That Winston guy should get himself a lottery ticket stat.

Pretty cool, right? Now I’m not saying to go wait out in a storm for lightning to strike you, unless that is, your name begins with a K and ends with a Rempe. You hear that, Dr. Krempe? That’s for my C- in your class. OHHH BURN okay I’ll stop now.

Until next time, Iggy out!



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About the Author ()

I’m Ludwig DeLacey, an MD/PhD student here at Engle State University. But you can call me Iggy. Or Dr. DeLacey in a few weeks, once I graduate. I am, finally about to earn my MD and starring (well, co-starring) in a YouTube Science Show. Everything's coming up Iggy!

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