Lichtenberg Figures

Lichtenberg figures

[′lik·tən·bərg ‚fig·yərz]
(electricity)
Patterns produced on a photographic emulsion, or in fine powder spread over the surface of a solid dielectric, by an electric discharge produced by a high transient voltage. Also known as Lichenberger figures.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lichtenberg Figures

 

patterns of distribution of spark channels that cover the surface of a solid dielectric in cases of creeping spark discharge. It was first observed in 1777 by G. C. Lichtenberg.

In a strong discharge, the high pressures and temperatures in the spark channels deform the surface of the dielectric and imprint Lichtenberg figures. In weak discharges the Lichtenberg figures correspond to selective polarization of the dielectric and can be made visible by sprinkling a special powder on the surface of the dielectric or by developing a photographic plate placed under a layer of the dielectric during the discharge. The Lichtenberg figures near the anode and cathode sharply differ in appearance; therefore, they may be used to determine the electrode from which the spark channels developed (the polarity of the spark discharge). Lichtenberg figures are used in special devices for determining the polarity and force of lightning discharges.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Scientists call them Lichtenberg figures after 18th-century German physicist Georg Lichtenberg who described similar patterns while experimenting with static electricity.
In deaths resulting from lightning strike there may either be no evidence on the dead person's clothes or body or there may be burnt or torn patches on their clothes and lichtenberg figures specific to lightning strikes on their bodies.
When the patient was undressed for secondary examination 3 Lichtenberg figures on his back and 1 Lichtenberg figure on the lateral aspect of his right leg were observed; thus hydration was started (Figures-1 and 2).
Unlike being exposed to artificially-produced electricity (it generally lasts longer and causes advanced destruction in deep tissues) a person is exposed to lightning strike for a very short period of time and most of the current passes from the surface of the body.6 Injuries resulting from lightning strike are complex and the resulting situations range from temporary burnt areas similar like trees to death.7 In this case the diagnosis was made by Lichtenberg figures before anamnesis.
Anthony Hospitals (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17944174) wrote in the journal Cutis in 2007 that Lichtenberg figures "do not correspond to known vascular or neuroanatomic patterns."
One curious symptom of lightning strike victims is a fractal, fern-like pattern (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMicm1106008) called a Lichtenberg figure that will appear on the skin .
7 And, indeed note the above use of the Lichtenberg figures to explain frost on window-panes, see Lichtenberg as quoted on p.