15,000 Volts: An Art Experiment

We all know that students are sometimes curious. Pratt Institute (USA) student Melanie Hoff wanted to know what would happen to a sheet of wood when blasted with 15,000 volts of electricity. So, she decided to run the experiment — with the results being something quite unexpected. She connected cables carrying 15,000 volts of electricity to a large plank of wood and then documented the results. Rather than causing it to catch fire or blow up, the electricity created intricate fractal patterns — patterns that were very lightning-like in shape — which spread and grew across the wood. The whole thing turned out to be less a scientific experiment, but more like a masterpiece, actually.

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The wood that Hoff used was plywood, and the video you see here is played back at a dramatically sped-up rate:

“Yes, the grain of the wood influences the pattern and direction. The layers of veneer and the glue that holds them together causes the growth to progress much slower than in non-plywood. This is sped up hundreds of thousands of times.” – Melanie Hoff