Some time ago this picture took the internet by storm. Literally. It supposedly shows what happens when lightning strikes sand. Well, no doubt it looks amazing. But is it really what it claims to be?

Check out: What Really Happens When Lightning Strikes Sand: The Science Behind a Viral Photo






  • outcropping – a noticeable manifestation or occurrence
  • animism – the belief in a supernatural power that organizes and animates the material universe
  • B.S. – bullshit
  • petrify – make (someone) so frightened that they are unable to move or think
  • excavate – remove earth carefully and systematically from (an area) in order to find buried remains
  • topple – overbalance or become unsteady and fall slowly
  • driftwood – pieces of wood that are floating on the sea or have been washed ashore


Think about it

Answer the questions below.

  • What are some facts that we know about lightning thanks to modern science?
  • What does the author mean by saying “[m]y B.S. detector went off? Why does he say this?
  • What is “petrified lightning?”
  • How does the author exemplify scientific value of fulgurite?
  • Explain in your own words what the writer means by saying that “nature’s ability to astound has us jumping at every weirdness no matter its scientific validity.”
  • BONUS QUESTION: What’s totally wrong about the opening sentence of the article? Tip: Think physics. ;)


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing letters.

 Before science, the f _ _ _ h of lighting that followed a c _ _ c _ of thunder was the will of Greek gods or a violent outcropping of animism. Now we know a bit more about lightning. We know that it can be h _ t _ _r than the surface of our Sun; we know that it can absolutely strike in the same place t _ i _ e; and we know that when it hits sand, it can create wonderful art. And we know people can _ i _ t _ _ e that art for a stick in the sand.


Combine the adjectives in bold with the nouns listed below.


constant   –   rare   –   careful   –   awesome   –   ancient   –   scientific


  • ______ excavation
  • ______ find
  • ______ opportunities
  • ______ value
  • ______ deserts
  • ______ push


Now use the phrases above in the paragraph below.

Fulgurite is always a _____ ______, so specimens like the photo above [. . .] are ______ _______ to glimpse nature’s raw power. They even have______ _______. Just a few months ago, chemists used gas trapped in fulgurite bubbles to determine the flora of ______ ______ . But even though the ______ ______of erosion can exposure these underground wonders, they are still fragile, requiring ______ _______to unearth a whole specimen without breaking it.


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