Lichtenberg figures, named after German physicist Professor Georg Lichtenberg, are branching patterns created when high voltage electrical discharges pass through insulating materials, such as the human body. Lightning releases a huge discharge of static electricity, killing 3,696 people in America between 1959 and 2003. Fatality rates are falling, but around 30 people per year still die from lightening strikes every year. It is thought that 10 per cent of people struck by lightning die, with 70 per cent suffering serious problems including personality changes and even brain damage.
Lichtenberg figures, or scars, are thought to be caused by a rupture from the electrical discharge. Other names are "lightening flowers" or "skin feathering".
The scars, which bear a resemblance to natural tattoos, quickly garnered attention on the social networking site.