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Lightning photographed by superfast X-ray camera, Nikola Tesla nods with approval

Vlad Savov
12.28.10
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You know, we could just leave you with the image above and be done here, but its backstory is almost as cool. Researchers at the Florida Institute of Technology have built a 1,500-pound X-ray camera that can shoot ten million frames a second and then pointed it at a nearby flash of lightning to try and learn more about it. How did they know where the lightning would strike? Well, in true scientific fashion, they caused it themselves! This was done by shooting rockets into thunderstorms, with attached wires directing the flow of energy down into their target zone. The imagery produced from the X-ray sensor is actually extremely low-res -- a 30-pixel hexagonal grid is all you get -- but it's enough to show that X-ray radiation is concentrated at the tip of the lightning bolt. What good that knowledge will do for the world, we don't know, but we're sure it'll provide nice fodder for the next round of superhero empowerment stories.

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