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Rare "captured Lightning" Lichtenberg Figure Sculpture For Sale
We Captured a Miniature Bolt of LightningInside this 2 Inch Block of Acrylic!
The scientific name for the branching patterns inside this 2" square Captured Lightning sculpture is a Lichtenberg Figure. Lichtenberg Figures are named in honor of Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, the 18th century physicist who first discovered them. Dr. Lichtenberg used high voltage electrostatic discharges and finely powdered sulfur and lead oxide to create 2-dimensional figures in dust on the charged insulating surfaces.
Using 21st century technology, we created this modern 3-dimensional versionby bombarding a block of polished acrylic with trillions of high-speed electrons using a 5 MeV linear accelerator (LINAC). The LINAC creates a beam of fast moving electrons that are moving at99.5% the speed of light. The energetic beam of electrons are aimed towards a large flat surface of the block. As they slam into the acrylic, the electrons penetrate the surface, slowing down as they collide with acrylic molecules, and finally coming to rest about halfway through. The accumulating electrons form a cloudlike layer of excess negative charge, called a space charge, deepinside the specimen. Since acrylic is an excellent electrical insulator, theexcess charges can't escape, and tremendous electrical stresses rapidly build as more electrons are being added by the beam.In a process quite similar to natural lightning, the electrical stress finally overcomes the insulating strength of the acrylic and the electrons suddenly escape as a brilliant electrical spark. Sometimes, as in the photo below, we manually trigger the discharge by poking the charged acrylic with a sharp metal point. Once the acrylic breaks down, the trapped charge quickly rushes out like a miniature bolt of lightning, accompanied by a flash and a BANG. And, similar to lightning, the branching, self-similar discharge can be described mathematically as a type of fractal.
Typical specimen being manually discharged. Internal charge layer is over 2 million volts
Although the"electrical storm" within the specimen only rages for less than50 billionths of a second, the hot electrical discharges cause millions of permanent microscopic fractures and tubules inside the acrylic, creating a permanent Lichtenberg Figure within the block that looks like a fossil record of the original discharges. Newer specimens may also have a golden tint, called solarization, from the irradiation process. Although solarization fades with time or through the application of gentle heat, the Lichtenberg Figure itself is permanent.
The internal chains of microscopic fractures act as tiny
mirrors, brilliantly reflecting any light that is injected from the bottom or
along an edge. The sculpture is best viewed against a dark background. Shining
light from behind (such as light through a window) can actually detract from the sculpture’s
detail and overall appearance. Every Captured Lightning sculpture is unique. The lucky buyer will receive a sculpture of comparable quality as the one shown below, and a one-page explanation about what it is and how it was created.
Typical specimen in natural light (sunlight - base not included) Typical specimen illuminated by small battery-powered color changing light base
Lighted base is not included, but we can supply it for $23 when ordered with a figure.
If interested, please send me an message after purchasing your sculpture (but BEFORE you pay for it) and I'll send you a revised invoice for the sculpture and base.
Following isashort video clip of a similar sculpture
illuminated by an optionalBD752MC light base (not included):
Our Captured Lightning sculpturesare stunning andunique examples of scientific art. Very few people have even seen a Lichtenberg Figure, and far fewer have ever had the opportunity to own one as beautiful as this. The sculptureglows brilliantly when illuminated along the edge byLED's or other bright light sources. They also make ideal gifts for folks who "have everything" or for discriminating collectors of rare and beautiful objects. See About Me for further information about Lichtenberg Figures, Shrunken Coins,and the mad scientist from Stoneridge Engineering. We offer affordable 2 x 2 x 3/4 inch sculptures to huge 15 x 20 x 2 inch museum quality sculptures. Also, please seeother styles of beautiful Captured Lightning sculpturesor our amazing electromagnetically shrunken coins.
"A physical experiment which makes a bang is always worth more than a quiet one. Therefore a man cannot strongly enough ask of Heaven: if it wants to let him discover something, may it be something that makes a bang. It will resound into eternity." G. C. Lichtenberg 1742-1799
An ideal gift for that amateur scientist, student, or collector on your gift list!