Electric field, Equipotential surfaces

  1. Question :
    The top of the atmosphere is at about 400 kV with respect to the surface of the Earth, corresponding to an electric field that decreases with altitude. Near the surface of the Earth, the field is about 100 V/m. Why then we do not get electric shock as we step outside our house into the open?

    What has been given in the answer:
    When we step outside our house, the equipotential surfaces get distorted and since our body is a conductor, it acts as a part of the Earth. Thus, our body and the Earth form an equipotential surface.

    Now, it means that equipotential surfaces around the Earth are concentric with the Earth.
    So, accordingly, won't a man falling with a parachute get a shock as he would be falling perpendicularly to the equipotential surfaces and along the electric field?
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. NascentOxygen

    Staff: Mentor

    As soon as a few electrons begin to flow, the voltage collapses in the vicinity of a conductive body.
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