CAN LIGHTNING REALLY TURN SAND INTO GLASS?
— Shaelyn, 9, MA
When lightning hits sand, it doesn’t exactly turn into glass like you’ve seen in the movies, but it does create something known as a fulgurite: a hollow tube of fused (melted together) sand caused by a lightning strike. Lightning strikes at temperatures of about 54,000 degrees (that’s five times hotter than the sun!), which causes the silica and quartz (types of minerals) in the sand to bond together in less than a second. Even though lightning strikes the Earth millions of times a day, these cool-looking formations — also called fossilized lightning — are hard to come by because it takes special conditions for them to form and because they’re so delicate and deep underground.