Nature can do some pretty incredible things.
Take some time out of your day to turn on the Discovery Channel or pop in that DVD of "Planet Earth" and you'll learn about wonders of the Earth you never even imagined. That's what's great about the internet, too! There are so many amazing things to be learned from scientific blogs and even scientists on Twitter.
A new post on Scientific American is showing us that not every science-related fact on the web is created equal, and that sometimes the truth is even stranger than fiction.
This photo was posted to Reddit and other sources claiming to be "what happens when lightning strikes sand." It's dramatic and amazing, but it's not true.
This is a stick with sand slowly dripped on top of it by a sandcastle artist.
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But what does happen when lightning strikes sand? It can create fulgurites, which look similar to the viral image but are usually much smaller.
Fulgurites form when sand hits more than 1,800 degrees Celsius (3,272 degrees Fahrenheit) after being struck by lightning. Check out the video below for an example.video-player-present
They are essentially hollow, glass-lined tubes covered in a layer of sand.
This makes them incredibly fragile. Fulgurites form underground at the site of the strike and only surface when sand erodes.
The hollow glass of the viral photo, if actually fulgurite, would have broken several times before erosion revealed such a large specimen. Fulgurites this size are much more common.
Small fulgurites are still rare, however, and a great glimpse into nature's power. Some nature-based religions even use fulgurites in their rituals.
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These scientific wonders are incredible! Have you ever been lucky enough to find one on the beach? SHARE this with the nature-loving people in your life who will be blown away by these discoveries.