In this video, NPL’s Andrew Hanson, assisted by Chris Thomas, shows us a spectacular experiment that demonstrates just how unhappy objects are to have extra material inserted into the space between matter – despite even the most dense of objects being mostly empty space. Please do not try this at home, unless you are comfortable using your linear accelerator safely of course.
Or in slightly more scientific terms:
“The interior of Plexiglas samples are irradiated by an electron beam from a 10 million electron volt (MeV) particle accelerator at NPL. The excess negative charge is discharged and the electrons escape with a bright flash and loud bang. The hot, lightning-like discharges create a fractal pattern of fractures inside the acrylic resulting in an overall branching “Frozen Lightning” sculpture (Lichtenberg Figure).”