MadSci Network: Physics

Re: What makes up Electric Shock?

Date: Wed Apr 26 12:03:54 2000
Posted By: Gus Calabrese aka puppet boy, Design Engineer
Area of science: Physics
ID: 956517165.Ph

Two factors matter when shocking the human body.....voltage and current

The flow of current is what causes you to feel a shock.  The human nervous 
system runs on electrical impulses.  The more current that is forced through 
your body, the more effects you will suffer.  Small amounts of current will 
cause you to feel funny, cause small muscle tremors and may stop the heart 
if the current flows near the heart. Large amounts of current will cause 
spasms, burn the body and do bad things to your organs.

Skin is very resistive to electricity.  That resistance drops when you are 
wet, sweaty or insert a needle past the skin into your body.  Don't try this 
as it is very dangerous.  People in the hospital with needles and wires in 
their bodies are at a greater risk of electrocution.  Hospitals are very 
careful about this.

Since skin resists the flow of current, you are safe from most voltages 
below 48 volts.  Voltage is the pressure component of electricity.  Higher 
voltage will force more current to flow through your skin just as higher 
water pressure causes more water to flow through a narrow pipe.  Often as 
current starts to flow, the pressure (voltage) pushing it will drop since 
the source of the electricity may not have much energy at it's source.  you 
see a similar thing when you turn on a faucet while someone is taking a 
shower.  The water pressure drops due to the increaaed water flow and the 
person is the shower generally gets mad.

Lightning is a combination of high voltage and high current. Lightning 
strikes have a lot of energy associated with them.  Your magic device has 
high voltage and little current capability.  Not much energy can come out of 
a small battery.

The way your device works is that it stores energy in the coil of wire.  
When you push the button, the circuit converts this stored energy into a
brief pulse of high voltage electricity.

If you want to kow more details about the conversion, let me know and I will 
find some references.


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