Lichtenberg Invitation Suite

Lichtenberg figures are branching, tree-like patterns that are created by the passage of high voltage electrical discharges along the surface of, or through, electrically insulating materials. They are named after the German physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, who discovered them in 1777. Professor Lichtenberg used various devices to electrically charge the surfaces of insulating materials. He then sprinkled powdered substances onto the charged surface that would be attracted to either positive or negative charges, making the paths traveled by the discharge visible. Lichtenberg also discovered that the shapes of positively and negatively charged figures were significantly different: figures created by positive discharges were star-shaped with long, branching paths, while figures created by negative discharges were shorter, rounded, and fan-shaped.

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