Artist Traps Bolts of Electricity Inside Clear Acrylic Blocks to Create “Captured Lightnings”

Want to give someone a unique present? How about a bolt of  lightning? Bert Hickman’s work of art are literally stunning. He creates “Captured Lightnings” by blasting clear blocks of acrylic with millions of volts  of electrical charge, using a high-energy particle accelerator, creating  permanent “fossilized” tree-like patterns that reflect light like microscopic  mirrors.

Bert Hickman’s works are scientifically known as Lichtenberg figures,  only the artist and his physicist friend Todd Johnson have managed to turn  them into artworks by creatng lightning bolts in the shape of butterflies,  stars, trees and even the Yin Yang symbol. 65-year-old Hickman breaks down the  process of making his Captured Lightnings: “To create our sculptures, we  rent “beam time” on a 5 million volt particle accelerator. As the  accelerator injects huge numbers of electrons inside a clear acrylic plastic  specimen, a huge electrical charge (typically 1 – 2.5 million volts) builds  inside.” He also manually creates an escape path for the electrical charge, a  weakened path through the acrylic, to achieve the desired shapes. While the  electricity escapes in a short lightning-like discharge, the intense heat from  this miniature lightning leaves branching patterns that are permanently captured  within the acrylic. These patterns are a ‘fossilized’ chain of microscopic  fractures and tubes that reflect light like microscopic mirrors.

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