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MMD > Archives > May 2002 > 2002.05.30 > 10Prev  Next

Technically Dead!
By Paul Anderson

On Wed, 29 May 2002, John A. Tuttle wrote:

> So, my question is: Why didn't she feel even the slightest shock?
Electricity doesn't just leap out thwack people.  You need to provide a
more tempting (less resistive) path to ground than the electricity
already has.  It is far more likely that the electricity would short
out within the plug on the end of the extension cord then come out and
zap you.  Similarly, a hair-dryer dropped in a bathtub filled with
water, which is inhabited by someone, will NOT electrocute the tub's
occupant.  It will produce some neato fireworks, and probably pop the
breaker, but since the tub's occupant does not present a path of lower
resistance to ground, he does not get electrocuted.

Water, while indeed conductive, is still very resistive(pure water, in
fact, is not at all conductive), and it takes a considerable amount of
power to overcome this resistance.  Hollywood, as usual, has the facts
completely wrong.

 [ It is easily possible for current to flow through the tub's
 [ occupant AND also simultaneously between the internal exposed
 [ contacts inside the dryer.  You may not even get any sparks or
 [ pop a breaker (unless its a GFI, and then I wouldn't intentionally
 [ find out how bad it felt to be the current path for the test).  If
 [ you feel obliged to experiment, don't include yourself in the
 [ circuit, even accidentally. You can get a nasty shock
 [ in a Midwestern basement through damp leather bottom shoes
 [ while touching the 'hot' wire.  I know this from firsthand
 [ experience.  Its extremely easy for 'live' experiments to
 [ go wrong.  Beware...    Jody

(Message sent Thu 30 May 2002, 21:09:26 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Dead, Technically

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