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Lightning does not travel in straight lines. Rather, it follows a chaotic, jagged path, formed as the huge charge separation built up in the sky suddenly breaks down.
The majority of a lightning bolt is generally hidden in a cloud, much as an iceberg hides beneath the ocean. Lightning can be very large, spanning several kilometers, but it is formed in microseconds.
Thunder is a fractal sound. It is caused by the superheating of air. Because the pathway of the lightning bolt is a jagged fractal in 3D space, the time it takes to reach your ear varies, and the thunder rumbles in a corresponding fractal pattern.
The path lightning takes is formed step by step as it moves towards the ground, turning air into plasma.