Capture lightning in a block

While it might be impossible to capture lightning in a bottle, capturing it in a block is much more doable for mere mortals. You can do it yourself by either buying or building your own Lichtenberg figure. How, prey tell?

* Place a sharp metal point so it touches the center of a sheet of insulating material. (Lichtenberg used resin made from tree sap; today, clear acrylic works well.)
* Use a Wimshurst machine [shown above], a Van de Graaff generator, or vigorous shuffling on shag carpeting to build up static electricity, and then touch the metal point with your finger or with the machine’s electrode to discharge it. This forms a pattern of stranded charge on the plastic. The Lichtenberg figure is there; you just can’t see it.
* Blow photocopier toner over the surface. It will stick to the static electricity, revealing a beautiful Lichtenberg figure. Lichtenberg’s discovery ultimately led to the invention of photocopiers and laser printers, where the charge is laid down in patterns of words and images.
Sounds pretty easy. If it's not easy enough, you can just buy one yourself, but what's the fun in that? You'll get much more out of your little science experiment if you do it yourself, and you know it.

PopSci, via Geekologie