Man-made volcanic lightning has been created for the first time

The coolest kid science fair projects were always those erupting baking soda and vinegar volcanoes. Nothing captures the imagination like a good ol' explosion. This is kind of like that but a lot more insane and groundbreaking: scientists have created artificial volcano lightning in a lab for the very first time.

Volcanologists Corrado Cimarelli and Donald Dingwell of LMU University in Munich, Germany cooked up the electric science experiment to better understand the principles of volcanic lightning. How did they do it?

According to National Geographic, the artificial lightning was made with a pressure cooker and a super hot oven. Real volcanic ash is then added to spark the whole lightning thing. Cimarelli told Nat Geo:

To simulate the plume, we charged volcanic ash into a cylindrical autoclave made of steel and sealed at the top with a copper plate.

Gas was added until the pressure broke the copper plate top which causes "an instantaneous decompression that matches in value that experienced by volcanic particles during an explosive eruption". What follows is the electricity.

It's pretty freaking gnarly.


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