Pratt student Melanie Hoff was curious to know what would happen to a sheet of wood when blasted with 15,000 volts of electricity. So, she decided to run the experiment — with the results being something quite unexpected. Rather than causing it to catch fire or blow up, the electricity created intricate fractal patterns — patterns that were very lightning-like in shape — which spread and grew across the wood. The whole thing turned out to be quite beautiful, actually.
The wood that Hoff used was plywood, and the video you see here is played back at a dramatically sped-up rate. She elaborated in the Vimeo comments:
Yes, the grain of the wood influences the pattern and direction. The layers of veneer and the glue that holds them together causes the growth to progress much slower than in non-plywood. This is sped up hundreds of thousands of times.