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AC current & how electocution happens

  1. Mar 31, 2009 #1
    Am I understanding this correctly?

    If a person is touching the hot wire in their house (AC) and they are grounded ... this completes the circuit. In AC electrons move back and forth a few centimeters, 60 times each second (60Hz). Therefore, if electocution happens, it is a lot of charge moving back and forth in the persons body that can harm them ..... not a lot of charge traveling from the wall socket through a person and into the ground right? The ground just provides the possibility for the charge to move back and forth?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2009 #2


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    Moving charges don't matter
    With AC electricity the problem is that the changing electric field causes your heart to try and beat 60 times a second.
  4. Apr 1, 2009 #3
    How does the electric field make the heart want to beat 60 times per second? Doesn't the changing electric field cause charges to move back and forth 60 times per second?

  5. Apr 1, 2009 #4


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    The electric field causes electrons (and ions to move) but only a very small distance and only very slowly.
    An electric field is what makes your heart beat but the field is normally generated by chemical differences (chemical reactions and ion channels and sodium ions etc) an external electric field causes the ions to move and signal your heart to beat.
  6. Apr 1, 2009 #5


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    Good response, Mgb. It should be pointed out though, that messing about with high-current DC isn't a great idea either. I would not want to be, for instance, the only conductive path between a vehicle and the negative battery terminal when someone is trying to start it.
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