When lightning hits a tree, it can split the wood in half.
The voltage in a lightning bolt varies based on several factors, but estimates are that it could carry between 10 million and 120 million volts of electricity.
Brooklyn-based artist Melanie Hoff, who studied at the Pratt Institute, scaled the idea back a little bit and created a stunning video showing what happens when you expose a block of wood to 15,000 volts of electricity.
She appears to have screwed metal into a board, connected the metal to a charge and flipped the switch. The pattern of burned wood that results actually looks similar to a network of tree branches or root system.
In comments on the video, Hoff explained further that the board she used was plywood. Thus, “the grain of the wood influences the pattern and direction,” she wrote.
“The layers of veneer and the glue that holds them together causes the growth to progress much slower than in non-plywood. [The video] is sped up hundreds of thousands of times,” she continued.
In the time-lapsed video she uploaded to Vimeo, she described it as “high voltage wood erosion.”
Check it out:
See more of the charred work Hoff is creating on her website here.