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The blast of an explosion is rendered in yellow, red, blue and white. The centre of the blast is made up of concentric starburst areas of colour, first white, then yellow, then red. This sequence repeats and the shape changes to a cloud-like form filled with a dot pattern in red, then blue. Extending outward from the cloud in all directions are sharp rays of white, yellow and red lines. These lines reach the edge of the paper.

Roy Lichtenstein

Untitled, 1968
lithograph on paper
55.2 x 43.2 cm
Collection of the Owens Art Gallery
Gift of the Class of 1969

© Estate of Roy Lichtenstein / SOCAN, Montreal (2021)

CUMULONIMBUS clouds develop upwards from near ground level through all three levels of the troposphere. LIGHTNING occurs when particles of ice in these huge clouds roil and collide, gathering electrical charges. When masses of positively charged particles smash into negatively charged particles the resulting explosions can trigger wildfires. In 2020, Lynne Tolmachoff, from the California Department of Forestry, said, “The story of this year is lightning. And that’s not a normal weather pattern for us.” Scientists are not clear if there have been more lightning strikes than expected recently, as the planet warms during a developing climate emergency. Wide swaths of parched forest are like tinder for lightning strikes, which scorch massive regions of the earth.

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