Lightning Trapped Forever in a Box

By Anupum Pant

On a cloudy and stormy night (or almost all the time, in this part of Venezuela), dark clouds separate charges and are able to put together the right conditions to send off one of the nature’s most powerful forces from the heavens – lightning.

The air break downs and a great amount of static charge gets transferred through the path of least resistance. And a bolt of bright light is seen for a fraction of a second. It lasts for a very little time.

lichtenberg-figureAs it happens too quickly, the exact shape of a lightning bolt is difficult to see. However, a long time back, a German physicist, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, figured something that could help make the lightning bolt last longer. Or in fact, it could trap the lightning tree-pattern forever in an insulator (eg acrylic or wood etc.). The tree-like figure is called the Litchenberg figure after the person’s name (Georg Christoph Lichtenberg) who first noticed this.

Isn’t it a nice sculpture to have – a block acrylic with a lightning bolt permanently trapped in it! Or may be it could be a great gift for your physicist friend. But, sometimes the litchenberg figure isn’t a desirable thing to have…

People who unfortunately end up getting hit by lightning, sometimes survive to this permanent tree-shaped scar mark (or tattoo) – A permanent litchenberg figure gets printed on their skin. It looks like this.

litchenberg figure on skin

[Video] Your Body vs. The World

By Anupum Pant

Like 9gag, sometimes BuzzFeed can be informative too. So, for the time I stay away for a weekend trip, here’s an interesting video I came across.

Just for the record: The surface of your skin has more bacteria than there are people on Earth.

Human Skin and Permanent Tattoos

Our skin is huge. It is so big that it is larger than any of our organs. Yes, skin is the largest organ in our body. Still, we have never heard some of the most striking things about the human skin. Let us take a few minutes to skim through them before we talk about permanent tattoos.

Weight and Area: If our skin was cut and laid on the floor, it would cover an area of about 1.5 to 2 m2. If weighed on a scale, it would independently weigh about 3.5 kg (about 5% of your body weight).
To give you a perspective about its area, the same area in some posh localities of Mumbai would cost around $35000. Anyway, it sounds senseless to compare our skin’s area with real estate. So, given that no one has been able to artificially create an exact replica of it, I can’t really put a cost on it now. Let us talk about a nice estimation of its cost in the future. In terms of many functions it performs for our body, – a personal air conditioner, heater, shield, sensor, moisturizer etc – our skin, no doubt, is an invaluable asset.

In short, it is always good to think carefully about it, when you are planning a construction on this precious piece of real estate. Because bringing it down is going to be difficult.

Permanent Tattoos

To understand how permanent tattoos work, you need to understand the basic structure of skin.

Layers: Broadly, there are 3 main layers of skin – The Epidermis, Dermis and Hypodermis. The thickness varies at different parts. For instance, it is the thinnest at our eye-lids. Thinner skin is lighter. This enables you to complete the wink, in the wink of an eye.

Why Permanent?
Permanent tattoos on skin are permanent because of the 3 different layers. To put a tattoo on your skin a mechanized needle punctures your epidermis and sends colored particles to the epidermis. The body thinks of it as a damage that has been done to the body, and sends white blood cells to capture the color particles. But these particles are too big to be eaten by the white blood cells. As a result, they stay there permanently.

Why Avoid?

  1. It is not really Permanent: Later in your life, as the pigment moves and the folds of skin change, the “permanent tattoos” lose their sharpness. They start fading or get distorted. But a hazy and pointless mark remains there permanently.  At this point, people start regretting about their early life decisions. They start looking for methods to get rid of these hazy marks. Now, an expensive laser treatment seems like the best idea.
  2. Tattoos can kill you: While itching, swelling, rashes, bumps, and other skin reactions due to tattoos are very common; it should be known that tattoos can also kill you. Poorly made tattoo ink can contain hazardous chemicals which range from potentially carcinogenic substances to the presence of lead. Moreover, a wrong needle pierced at the wrong places, like your spine, could prove to be deadly. You don’t want these pigments in your blood stream.
    HIV or hepatitis from an infected needle can be another concern. But dying from a tattoo is extremely rare.
  3. Professional career: Also visible permanent tattoos aren’t good for your professional career. Most employees think it’s unacceptable for tattoos by be visible while at work. Also it is believed that tattoos should be covered up for a job interview.
  4. Tattoo removal can be expensive. Plus most of the time these methods don’t do their job perfectly. Often, permanent coloration is left after removal.
  5. This is not an exhaustive list. So, Etc…

It is a good idea to find some other way to prove your love.

If you are wondering why I wrote this – It was a side-effect of an effort to find a few common things in the randomness that I came across today while researching for a completely different article. Although the article might seem absurd, you can’t refute that it does teach you at least one new thing, for the day.

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