Nature is a lot like a Reddit thread — when something can be swiftly destroyed, it usually is. So lightning is a bit like nature’s downvote. Telephone poles aren’t natural, and every once in a while nature throws a bolt of lightning at one and returns it to unorganized organic matter. You can see a fantastic example of this power in the video above.
Taken by Anja Englert, the video shows lightning striking a telephone pole in Chicago last Sunday. Through a storm-drenched windshield, you can see both the strike and the mesmerizing shattering of the pole’s wood. A slo-mo version of the video popped up on the web shortly thereafter, which you can watch 100 times over in the GIF below:
Besides there being something to gawk at here, there is also something to learn. The telephone pole explodes because of rapidly heated water. Lightning strikes are famously many times hotter than the surface of the sun, so when they encounter water, bolts can turn it almost instantaneously into steam. A transition to steam means an increase in volume, an increase in volume means pushing on the material around it. The result is the boom. Steam escapes the telephone pole and wood goes everywhere. I wish that I could actually do this to some comment threads on Reddit.
What do you think? Do you have a better example of nature’s downvotes, would you like to simply obliterate all comment threads like I would? Let us know in the comments below I guess.
Images: Anja Englert