June 23, 2021

Someone should make a game about: fulgurites

There are certain aspects of modern living that my mind simply won't accept. Despite having had it explained to me many times by others, and with no small amount of research on my part, I still distrust planes. I took a four year chemistry degree at university, and I'm still fairly skeptical about how gravity works, or why sand turns into glass when it gets hot. Despite accepting the science behind all of these things, I still chalk most of it up to some kind of cosmic magic that I'll never truly understand. Fulgurites then, are tangible proof of at least one of these things. A rare opportunity to hold lightning in your hands.

Fulgurites are essentially glassy rock formations that are left behind in sandy areas after a lightning strike. Some look like rusted pipes, others shine with a sort of green shimmer, with brittle tendrils that reach up towards the sky. It seems wrong to have such a tangible object left behind after something as otherworldly as a lightning strike. It feels like seeing something you weren't supposed to see, like the lightning bolt messed up somehow, leaving evidence behind during its brief trip to Earth. Regardless, they are often left standing tall and shining on the beach after a storm. Evidence as good as you're likely to get that the transition from sand to glass is a natural, plausible thing.

As magical as fulgurites seem to a large ape like me, I can't help but imagine what they must mean to the ants and mites living in the dunes below. A flash of light, a loud bang, the smell of smoke and sulfur in the air. Suddenly a glass tower, seemingly appearing from nothing. It must be akin to a religious experience, if ants were capable of such thought. Perhaps that's a blessing, to be able to witness such an experience, while lacking the brain power necessary to ponder it until it turns from wonder to existential dread.

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