Sparking a thought

07 Sep 2021

I heard today that someone I work with was struck by lightning! They are fine.

A peculiar feeling has sprung up inside me: I really want to know what a lightning strike feels like. Not to the extent that I am going to go out and seek electrocution, for obvious reasons. It’s a mixture of curiosity and awe with quite a lot of envy. Mostly I’d like to be able to tell that story first hand, I think. That said, I certainly feel very grateful that nobody I know has been killed by lightning, as thousands of people are every year.

I don’t feel the same about people who have survived shark attacks, or had other near-death experiences. Perhaps it’s because being struck by lightning is something so instantaneous, unexpected and un-looked-for, but also - if you are lucky - thrilling and, well, awesome.

A little research shows me that YouTube has offerings which might help with the curiosity part. I might dig out my VR headset: it’s certain to be a paltry imitation of the real experience but it might be interesting.

Talking about lightning reminds me of one of my favourite books, “What if? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions” - it has a chapter on lightning which led me to a super slow motion video of a lightning strike. From an alt text for one of the images:

“lightning strikes a person on a tower, then flows into the tower to the ground. another bolt passes through someone doing a backflip. a person stands in a graphite field (?). a person looks at a lightning bolt which is hitting them in the eyes.”

I hope there is a word in a language somewhere in the world that describes the curious/awe/envy feeling.

Tags: personal, geeky