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What is this curious concoction of towering tubes? Seemingly abandoned in a forest near Moscow, the electrical installation has been turning up on the internet for a while now, and resurfaced this week on with a more detailed backstory on the futuristic machine. 

While it may look like a sci-fi dystopia set piece, its real use is much more interesting. The towering Marx generator, sometimes erroneously mistaken for a Tesla coil, was constructed by the Russian Electrical Engineering Institute in the 1970s in the town of Istra to test lightning insulation. As reports:

The facility is absolutely unique; nothing like it exists anywhere in the world, primarily because of its outstanding charge capacity. At its peak operating capacity the giant Marx generator, when lightning is discharged onto an isolated platform, has power equal to all power generation facilities in Russia — including thermoelectric, hydroelectric, nuclear, solar, and wind power stations combined. But only for about 100 microseconds, Rossiya-1 TV reported.

You can check out the dormant “lightning machine” in the aggressively dance-soundtracked drone video below. According to reports, the machine is still periodically brought back into use, so a caution to would-be explorers: if you see your hair standing on end, the air is bristling with a manmade storm. 

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