Lightning is an atmospheric electrical discharge (spark) accompanied by thunder, usually associated and produced by cumulonimbus clouds, but also occurring during volcanic eruptions, or in dust storms or even caused by violent forest fires which generate sufficient dust to create a static charge.
How lightning initially forms is still a matter of debate.  
The irrational fear of lightning (and thunder) is called Astraphobia. The study or science of lightning is called Fulminology, and someone who studies lightning is referred to as a Fulminologist.


Lightning bolt makes healer of Indonesian village boy
February 14, 2009

Muhammad Ponari (L), who locals believe possesses healing powers, dips his "magic stone" into a bottle of water.
MOHAMMAD Ponari was, until last month, a typical kid in the impoverished East Java village of Balongsari. Then, quite literally, lightning struck.
The nine-year-old, who had been playing in the rain in his front yard, was hit by the thunderbolt but, to the astonishment of his young friends, he was unharmed.
All the more bizarre, according to an account by his village chief and his family, when he came to, he found a stone the size of an egg on his head, and was convinced he possessed healing powers.
The Man Who Survived the Most Lightning Strikes:


One in ten thousand people are struck by lightning over 80 years of life. That’s 1 in 10000. Do you think it’s possible to get struck twice (that’s a 1 in 100,000,000 chance)? Thrice (a 1 in 1,000,000,000,000 chance)? Imagine getting struck seven times? Mathematically that’s a one in ten octillion chance (an octillion has 27 zeroes – so the exact figure here would be 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) which is next to impossible. Or is it?

Meet our hero Roy Sullivan! Struck by lightning seven times and still he survived. Holds the Guinness Record for being struck by lightning the most. Our superman under discussion was a park ranger in Virginia.

Virginia averages 35 to 45 thunderstorm days per year, most of which fall in June, July, and August. Between 1959 and 2000 lightning killed 58 people and injured at least 238 people in Virginia. Maybe the heavens above Virginia had a grudge against him and the only way to take out the fury was to electrocute the guy.


1942, the clouds sent a direct bolt of lightning which hit Sullivan’s leg and exited through his toe, leaving behind a burned toenail.

After strike one, strike two hit Sullivan while driving his truck down a mountain. It knocked Sullivan unconscious and burned off his eyebrows, eyelashes, and most of his hair. The uncontrolled truck kept moving until it stopped near a cliff edge.

Strike three while in his front yard. The lightning hit a nearby power transformer and from there jumped to his left shoulder, searing it.

Strike four – One fine day Sullivan was sitting inside…get this inside… his ranger station. Something must be seriously wrong if the skies found you even when you were sitting indoors. His hair set on fire he threw his head under the bathroom sink but didn’t fit under it so used a wet towel to douse the fire.


Since then he carried with him a thermos full of water – lest lightning decided to set him on fire again. But unlucky as he was, strike number five occurred. Three years later his ankle got struck – and his water carrying was indeed useless. Sullivan reported that he saw a storm cloud forming and drove away quickly. But the cloud, he said later, seemed to be following him. When he finally thought he had outrun it, he decided it was safe to leave his truck. As he stepped out, lightning took its chance and struck once more.

Strike six – the most merciless of them all was against him and his wife. As the happy couple hung clothes out on a steel wire, they both got hit mercilessly.

Strike seven – the most dramatic of them all – The lightning hit the top of his head, singeing his hair, and traveled down burning his chest and stomach. Sullivan turned to his car and then another unexpected thing happened—a bear appeared and tried to steal trout from his fishing line. Sullivan had the strength and courage to strike the bear with a tree branch.

After the surviving the seven lightning strikes, he was nicknamed the “Human Lightning Conductor” or “Human Lightning Rod”.

Gold Crucifix and Chain Melted Around His Neck


Jason Crawford, 31, was riding a dirt bike in Gunnison County, Colorado when it started sprinkling lightly and a lightning bolt struck him out of the blue. The strike caused him to do a back flip off his bike and twist in the air before landing on the ground.

The strike melted a part of his bike helmet, fractured his skull and left burn scars on his chest and arm. A gold chain and crucifix he wore around his neck also melted, leaving the pattern of a rope burned into his skin. According to doctors, if Crawford had not been wearing the helmet, he probably would have died.

Struck by Lightning in Her Own Kitchen
Lightning struck Elizabeth Mena while she was cooking in her Lebanon, Pennsylvania home. She was standing near the back door when the lightning came through the door, throwing her against the stove.

An ambulance was called, but her injuries were not serious enough to need hospital treatment.

"I'm not going in my kitchen for a while," Mena said.

Teen Talking on a Cell Phone

A 15-year-old girl was talking on a cell phone in a London park during a storm when lightning struck her. The girl has no memory of the incident, but she had a cardiac arrest and required resuscitation. A year later, the girl must use a wheelchair and has severe physical difficulties, brain damage and emotional and cognitive problems. She also has a burst eardrum in the ear where she was holding the phone, along with hearing loss.

According to researchers in the British Medical Journal, the metal in a cell phone causes the lightning current to go into the body, causing even more severe injuries.

Inch Exit Wound on Right Foot

Two teens, Zach O'Neal, 15, and Ernie Elbert, 16, were struck by lightning while hiking in southern Colorado. The bolt entered O'Neal near his right eye with enough force to blow his shoes 10 feet away. Some of the current exited through his head, but most of it went out of his feet, causing a 2.5-inch exit wound on his right foot. He also suffered a ruptured eardrum.

Elbert, who initially couldn't feel his legs after the strike, was able to perform CPR on his friend. The strike was strong enough to also shred their clothing and cause surface burns.

Realized He Was Struck Five Hours Later

Alistair Fellows, 43, from the UK, was struck by lightning after he got out of his van during a storm -- but he didn't realize it until hours later. Fellows didn't feel anything at the time, but his arm swelled up five hours later, and his wife noticed a mark on his arm. He also had slight problems with his hearing and sight.

"There was a flash, and the thunder and lightning came at the same time. I didn't realize anything had happened until a bit later on," Fellows said.

  Airbus A380 Struck By Lightning While Landing In London

The moment a lightning bolt struck a commercial passenger plane mid-flight has been caught on tape. None of the 500 passangers on board the Emirates Airlines Airbus A380 were injured as the plane flew through a storm as it approached London's Heathrow Airport.

Videographer Chris Dawson, 37, pointed his digital camera at the plane from his terrace in south-west London about 7.30pm local time. "I saw a storm coming and I thought there could be lightning," he told Abu Dhabi's English language newspaper The National.

"I wasn't expecting it to hit a plane but I just got fortunate." The plane landed without incident.

A United Emirates spokesperson told the newspaper lightning strikes are not rare and that every plane in its fleet is designed and certified to withstand a lightning strike.

Just yesterday a Qantas Boeing 737-800 en route from Auckland to Melbourne was forced back mid-flight after a suspected lightning strike — but it too landed without damage or injury to passengers.

The average lightning bolt produces a current of 20,000 amps and can attain temperatures of 30,000C

But an airplane's metal hull forms a Faraday confine that protects it from lightning, carrying the electric charge through the hull and expelling it at an output point without harming the aircraft or the passengers inside.

 Lichtenberg Figures

 Lichtenberg figures (Lichtenberg-Figuren, or "Lichtenberg Dust Figures") are branching electric discharges that sometimes appear on the surface or the interior of insulating materials or even as scar in people that were struck by lightning.  They are named after the German physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who originally discovered and studied them.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

When they were first discovered, it was thought that their characteristic shapes might help to reveal the nature of positive and negative electric “fluids”.

In 1777, Lichtenberg built a large electrophorus to generate high voltage static electricity through induction. After discharging a high voltage point to the surface of an insulator, he recorded the resulting radial patterns in fixed dust.

By then pressing blank sheets of paper onto these patterns, Lichtenberg was able to transfer and record these images, thereby discovering the basic principle of modern Xerography.

This discovery was also the forerunner of modern day plasma physics.
Although Lichtenberg only studied 2-dimensional (2D) figures, modern high voltage researchers study 2D and 3D figures (electrical trees) on, and within, insulating materials There is a video at the end of this post that shows a Lichtenberg figure being created.
Below will find a small gallery of people who were struck by lightning and the fractal pattern it left behind.

Lighting & Religion

Over the centuries, lightning in cultures was viewed as part of a deity or a deity in of itself. One of the most classic portrayals of this is of the Greek god Zeus. An ancient story is when Zeus was at war against Kronus and the Titans, he released his brothers, Hades and Poseidon, along with the Cyclopes. In turn, the Cyclopes gave Zeus the thunderbolt as a weapon, which was near the beginning of Zeus himself. The thunderbolt became a popular symbol of Zeus and continues to be today.


The Aztecs portrayed lightning as a supernatural power of the god Tlaloc, visualized as his axe. In mythology, Tlaloc was the bringer not only of beneficial rain but of storms, killer lightning bolts, flood, and disease

The Classic Mayas personified lightning as a rain deity classified by scholars as God K. This deity has a leg shaped like a lightning serpent, and a forehead perforated by a lightning. A miniature God K is often wielded as an axe by the king.

Pērkons/Perkūnas is the common Baltic god of thunder, one of the most important deities in the Baltic pantheon. In both Latvian and Lithuanian mythology, he is documented as the god of thunder, rain, mountains, oak trees and the sky.

In Norse mythology, Thor is the god of thunder and the sound of thunder comes from the chariot he rides across the sky. The lightning comes from his hammer Mjölnir.

In Finnish mythology, Ukko (engl. Old Man) is the god of thunder, sky and weather. The Finnish word for thunder is ukkonen, derived from the god's name.

In the Jewish religion, a blessing "...He who does acts of creation" is to be recited, upon sighting lightning. The Talmud refers to the Hebrew word for the sky, ("Shamaim") - as built from fire and water ("Esh Umaim"), since the sky is the source of the inexplicable mixture of "fire" and water that come together, during rainstorms. This is mentioned in various prayers[130] and discussed in writings of Kabbalah.

In Islam, the Quran states: "He it is Who showeth you the lightning, a fear and a hope, and raiseth the heavy clouds. The thunder hymneth His praise and (so do) the angels for awe of Him. He launcheth the thunder-bolts and smiteth with them whom He will." (Qur'an 13:12–13) and, "Have you not seen how God makes the clouds move gently, then joins them together, then makes them into a stack, and then you see the rain come out of it..." (Quran, 24:43). The preceding verse, after mentioning clouds and rain, speaks about hail and lightning, "...And He sends down hail from mountains (clouds) in the sky, and He strikes with it whomever He wills, and turns it from whomever He wills."

In India, the Hindu god Indra is considered the god of rains and lightning and the king of the Devas.


In Japan, the Shinto god Raijin is considered the god of lightning and thunder. He is depicted as a demon who strikes a drum to create lightning.

In the traditional religion of the African Bantu tribes, such as the Baganda and Banyoro of Uganda, lightning is a sign of the ire of the gods. The Baganda specifically attribute the lightning phenomenon to the god Kiwanuka, one of the main trio in the Lubaale gods of the sea or lake. Kiwanuka starts wild fires, strikes trees and other high buildings, and a number of shrines are established in the hills, mountains and plains to stay in his favor. Lightning is also known to be invoked upon one's enemies by uttering certain chants, prayers, and making sacrifices.