Can large static discharge cause vision to see white flash?

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I just googled to see if this was a known thing and saw there was a closed topic on the subject. Usually I like to think of myself as a creature of logic and love to point out when other people distort reality to support their emotions but now I am all alone and trippin' about what follows.

For years while sleeping in my room I would see a very brief white flash of light simultaneously while hearing a little crack of electricity. This was while going to sleep in my room or I would wake up with one. As this was happening my power bar would briefly provide power to my VR laser trackers, my monitor, my speakers, my computer and any device left on but plugged into the side of my power bar that only provides power when the key device is powered on (my computer).

The white flash was so brief I figured I heard the noise while sinking into a dream and so the white flash was a subconscious imagining of light to go along with the sound, but it was very consistent. Nevertheless I only ever saw the white flash when my eyes were closed except for the odd time during the day where I thought I saw something but couldn't be sure.

BCHydro recently shut off the power to my house to work on power lines and when they turned it back on I was standing in my room right against the wall where on the other side was an old 60's oil furnace. The furnace went KKRAAKK!!!!! and I saw a white flash of light with my eyes wide open that lasted a considerable moment and was not so subtle. However I don't think there was an actual light due to the wall and no burn impression left in my eyes. It was very distinct and almost felt like I mentally missed a beat there as well. After that it kept happening sporadically but often and it was more dramatic than before but not like the first KRAAK!!!!!

Years ago a furnace repair man who was also a bad man used wiring of too low a caliber and left it ungrounded as a quick fix after a flood and from then on it was shorting into the ground. But when BC Hydro turned the power back it was such a dry summer that this time it wouldn't discharge so neatly(Based on what electrician guy said when he repaired it).

Before we got an electrician to fix it I stood vigil before the furance and after some time I saw a white line, like thin wiry lightning, shoot from the furnace this way and that periodically and it was quite the spectacle. I don't understand how even 240V could do that. The best one I saw went almost a meter from the furnace to a vacuum cleaner head attachment with a long metal tube. I got other people to stand and wait for it to happen to prove I wasn't crazy and my cousin saw it shoot into the ceiling where a metal hook was twisted in. I did not see a white flash when I was watching the furnace but I was creeped out and standing 3 or 4 meters away. When I was in my room I was maybe 60cm away max including the wall (drywall).

So I am not a physicist but how could I see a lightning effect shoot out a meter through the air without so much voltage being involved that it got biblical? How could it shoot out like that probably for 10hrs like that with cardboard boxes and linens everywhere without my house burning down?

Most importantly is there any possibility that a big enough static or electrical discharge could make you see white by triggering some kind of response in your brain or am I just a damn fool?
 
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  • #2
russ_watters
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Welcome to PF!

What you are describing sounds pretty extreme but read blandly is just a generic description of static discharge: lightning.

Seeing it often and long in a house would be pretty unusual though and would indicate a very dangerous electrical problem and you should hire an electrician to investigate and fix it. If it's repeatable, take pictures. Maybe set up a security camera if it isn't.

Simple answer to this question though:
So I am not a physicist but how could I see a lightning effect shoot out a meter through the air without so much voltage being involved that it got biblical?
What's biblical voltage? For example, if you rub your feet against a carpet for a while and then touch a doorknob, you'll get shocked with roughly 25,000 Volts. Is that biblical enough!?
 
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It's not. If it is just static build up and pure voltage, I get the lack of amperage but what I really want to know about is what the white flash is all about.

I don't know the details but a static discharge like when fabric comes out of the dryer but on a larger scale doesn't seem strange or unexplainable except how the static would build up in a furnace chasis from shorting wires.

What bothers me is seeing something like a white flash of light repeatedly and not knowing if its a psychological reaction or a "physical" one. If I am hallucinating on my own as a reaction to sharp loud sounds that is pretty interesting in its own right.
 
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jim hardy
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Does that furnace have an electric igniter in it? Some of them can make tens of KV ..
I saw one once that had a moving arm ,quite a contraption. It started an arc across a small distance then an electromagnet swung the arm to make the arc about an inch long.

Just a guess Of course the light would have to get out into the room somehow...

old jim
 
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CWatters
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Might be fun to try and capture this on camera. In the old days you would eliminate all light sources and leave the shutter open on your camera. Not sure of best method theses days.
 
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I think we can rule out some sort of EMP affecting your retina - the flashes travelling to metallic ground points indicate they are really there.

The arc lengths you mention seem beyond mains or even electric igniter levels. Could some moving part in the furnace be rubbing and generating a static charge? Could the flue be acting as an antenna?

A photo of the boiler’s internals and its situation might be interesting. It would be sensible to get this sorted soon - uncontrolled static discharge in a fuel-burner is generally frowned upon...
 
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BCHydro ... how far north are you? Could auroral effects be involved?
 
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russ_watters
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Might be fun to try and capture this on camera. In the old days you would eliminate all light sources and leave the shutter open on your camera. Not sure of best method theses days.
Security camera. They are constantly recording and overwriting a few seconds so it can fully capture an event when it sees motion.
 
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Averagesupernova
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As far as the flashes in your vision go, do some experimenting with a taser.
 

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