15,000 Volt Fractal Madness – Lightning on Wood as Art

finished board

I saw this a few days ago, and I was blown away by it’s awesomesaucedness.

That’s right, awesome-sauced-ness.

Meet Melanie Hoff, a woman who figured out that 15,000 volts attached to a wood panel will result in a beautiful wood erosion technique that is really quite stunning:

15,000 Volts from Melanie Hoff on Vimeo.

From the video:

High voltage wood erosion.

Soundtrack: Aire De Zamba by Agustín Barrios Mangoré

To learn when wood pieces will be available to buy, send me a message with your email or follow me on twitter.

The finished board:

What Melanie is doing here is creating what we call a Lichtenberg figure, which is what happens on occasion when high voltage bursts of electricity run through some sort of insulating medium.  This could be glass, acrylic, wood (in Melanie’s case, or even skin, in the case of human lighting strikes.  Like this:


Also, here’s the case of around two million volts having been passed through a block of acrylic.  Notice the three-dimensionality of this work!


Wow.  I wonder what this would look like cranked up to, say, 100,000 voltsYeah, that’s why I don’t play with electricity outside of the confines of distribution equipment.  Consequently it’s also why I don’t ride a motorcycle or 4-wheeler.  I’d give myself a lifespan of about 3 weeks.

Check out Melanie’s other works, Melanie’s Twitter feed, and Melanie’s Squarespace page!  Cool stuff!

Thanks to Wikipedia for the non-Melanie images!

San Francisco Bay Bridge Lightning!

This image of our friend electricity was so neat I had to share! Phil McGrew took out this photo in a single 20-second exposure during one of the recent thunderstorms in beautiful San Francisco.

The Lightning Fantastic, Oklahoma City, August 8, 2011

I drove back from Arlington, Texas last night.  Long story short, I left around 8pm last night, and I spent the entire three hour drive just completely enamored with the sky lighting up with huge bolts of lightning.  I remembered seeing the Trinity test video, and so many other night-based explosions in movies; the sky last night reminded me of that type of phenomenon.  So many bolts of lightning piercing the darkness, it was just like watching that scene in the newest Harry Potter when all of the folks are casting the spells over the school campus.  Overwhelming; beautiful.

(Sorry folks, I’m not a Harry Potter person, I just saw the one…)

I got home and made this video, since I was blessed AGAIN with the lack of tiredness in my body after that drive.  I took about a half hour’s worth of lightning strikes in downtown and condensed them down to about two minutes.  I hope you enjoy!  I’m a great big goofball, just be forewarned.

The Lightning Fantastic in Oklahoma City, August 8, 2011 from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

Thanks, NatGeo and Tal Bachman!

Lightning in Oklahoma City – from the World HQ

For the first time in my life, I live in an apartment tower.  I’ve lived in apartments before, of course, but never anywhere that had floors above the second or third floor.  I’m on the thirteenth floor, with an amazing view of downtown Oklahoma City.

I have found a new kind of peace with this kind of view – when I make it home early enough that the sun is still up, it is amazing to watch the city get ready for the night time by turning on architectural illumination.  The city has a soul, and you see it at night when it is shining.

Another amazing sight at this vantage is storms.  Oh holy crap do I love storms and lightning – and Oklahoma City is right in that tornado-y, ass-kicking thunderstorms and hail alley of the country.  A few weeks ago we had a string of days that had afternoon thunderstorms – and I had my camera on the tripod!

Check these out – I hope it is a good start to your morning!

and I kid you not, when this wave was over, the freaking sun popped out, and BOOM – DOUBLE RAINBOW.


I was checking out some videos of lightning because, well, lightning is cooler than buttered popcorn, and I found this video.

Also, just be forewarned, the guy in the video uses the eff word a few times on the video, so if you’re at work, you might wanna turn the volume down a bit or put on headphones.

This seriously scared the crap out of me, so if you’re on a pacemaker, crank that sucker up to 11:

Happy Birthday, Benjamin Franklin!

What the – who’s that guy?  Is that Benjamin Franklin?  Hey, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Benjamin Franklin!


Benny Franklin (January 17, 1706 to April 17, 1790) was technically born yesterday, but it was Sunday – so not as many people would have been able to say “WHASSUP BIRTHDAY BOY” had I posted this yesterday.

Good ol’ Benny Franklin is one of a solid handful of light and electricity contributors that were born in the month of January – so being as I share the birthday month with this monster of brainpower, it’s an honor to proclaim that, were you still alive Benny Boy, I’d surely buy you a Shiner Bock and talk of good times with you on your birthday!


For those of you who don’t know who Benjamin Franklin was (?!), this dude made some really heavy contributions to light, electricity, and our society in general.  I get the feeling he’d be turning over in his grave like chicken-on-a-stick from the Texas State Fair if he saw what we’ve done to his glorious ideals of a country, but the man has lots to be proud of.  Benny Franklin can take credit for many things, including:

  • signing the Declaration of Independence, being a Founding Father of the US of A
  • creating Daylight Savings Time, giving us an extra hour of daylight when it’s in effect and saving money on candles
    (he actually theorized that if all of the late-night party animals in Paris would work during the day and sleep at night, they’d save 64 million pounds of candle wax)
  • messing around with optics and creating bifocal glasses.  It was said that he invented them so he “could watch the girls across the room while watching the one close to him.”  Benny, you dog!
  • creating a “lightning rod” that grounded lightning strikes and helped adult males not hide under their bed for fear of “Jobe’s Thunderbolts”
  • coining lots of electrical terms that still stick to the subject, like positive and negative, battery, conductor, and capacitor
  • creating a Fire Department
  • being an all-around flirty dude

Now of course this is not an all-inclusive list, but you get the picture.  Ben Franklin was one Renaissance Man of a guy.  Happy (belated Birthday, Benny Franklin!  Thanks for helping to create America, too!


Thanks Franklin Resources, US History, Wikipedia, and HistoryNet!


The Big Picture blog has a huge post full of beautiful lightning shots.  Take a moment and check it out!  Here are three of my favorites from the post – come on, everyone loves lightning!




Arc Attack and Their Enormous Musical Tesla Coils


Have you ever heard of Arc Attack?  From Arc Attack’s “about” page:

Creators of the original Singing Tesla Coils, the crew of ArcAttack uses high tech wizardry to present music in a whole new light.

ArcAttack employs a unique DJ set up of their own creation (an HVDJ set up) to generate an ‘electrifying’ audio visual performance. The HVDJ pumps music through a PA System while two specially designed DRSSTC’s (Dual-Resonant Solid State Tesla Coils) act as separate synchronized instruments.

These high tech machines produce an electrical arc similar to a continuous lightning bolt which put out a crisply distorted square wave sound reminiscent of the early days of synthesizers. The music consists of original highly dance-able electronic compositions that sometimes incorporates themes or dub of popular songs.

Joe DiPrima and Oliver Greaves are the masterminds behind the design and construction of the Tesla Coils while the music is developed by John DiPrima and Tony Smith.

These things are crazy – Tesla Coils that produce sound as well as the enormous bolts of lightning that they’re known for producing.  Arc Attack has turned this into a band!  The stuff is pretty cool, if I do say so myself.Check out these videos, I promise they’re worth it.

Thanks, Rhizome!