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How electricity flows through your body.

  1. Apr 20, 2005 #1
    I was curious when electricity goes through your body does it spread out or stay in one line like lightning?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 20, 2005 #2
    it spreads out, looking for the paths with lowest resistance.
  4. Apr 20, 2005 #3
    Lightning also spreads out much of the time, like branches of a tree. Not necessarily a single bolt. In the body, there would be a lot of branches.
  5. Apr 21, 2005 #4
    To the Sam
    The body is a high percentage saline solution ( like a big bag of sea water from whence we came ) -- the electrical current is distributed over the whole it is not branched or look like lightening --- exactly how is determined by the area of contact
    to the electrodes , and frequency .
    In a spark i.e you touch a high voltage source the source is small -- but the whole body behaves as an antenna because it is connected to the surrounding space -- in this sense 'you' are grounded by virtue of what is called your 'radiation resistance '
    Low frequencies of electricity will pervade the whole body ( i.e your wall socket ) but High frequencies cannot penetrate very far , they induce surface currents which reject the electric fields and keep the currents at the surface . ( see 'skin effect ' Not Human skin ).
  6. Apr 24, 2005 #5
    The brain, heart and muscles are also powered by weak electric forces. The decay of sugar in the brain is one example. Basically everything can be explained in term of electric forces, including gravity.

    The electroweak theory is partly based on a mathematical trick called renormalization (cancellation of infinities). There should be another secret behind it.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2005
  7. Apr 24, 2005 #6


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  8. Apr 24, 2005 #7
    Everything except the strong and gravitational interaction (if there is such).
  9. Apr 24, 2005 #8
    Hurkyl is pretty wicked =)
    I believe that the body is a decent conductor of electricity because I mean, there's so much fluid in our bodies that is made up of salts and ions, which allows electricity to be conducted through the body. And as Starship pointed out, the heart is powered by slight electrical forces and if that gets disturbed by the extra amount of electricity running through your body, you could die.
  10. Apr 25, 2005 #9


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    Current will take the path or paths of least resistance through the body. If the heart is on this path, the current can disrupt the signal to the heart. I believe that a current as low as 50ma through the heart can cause the heart to lose sync and be potentially fatal.

    If the heart is not in the current path then the body can conduct many amps and survive with perhaps some burns. Some times the burns can be life threatening.

    Inadvertently, I once shorted a high current 500VDC power supply to ground through my little finger. It hurt and I had a pretty good burn on my finger, but my life was never threatened.
  11. Aug 19, 2007 #10
    a test of electricity

    I have recently been a bit facinated with arcing 2 fingers to a parallel circuit on the electrodes of ac adapters etc. the interesting part is that it has different sensations on body. it sometimes effects just the hand, other times the arm and more. no i'm not a sicko, i just find it interesting.
    and on a more sensitive note, anyone ever experienced a feeling of energy running through body during regular daily routine?
  12. Aug 19, 2007 #11
    There used to be a lot of 'quack' medical devices in the first quarter of the 20th century (most using glass tubing) to supply the body with small amounts of electrical discharge (it was supposed to feel 'invigorating'--even Tesla used and made up his own). However, there were, also, no records kept of how many people died using these items.

    Do you also 'like' clothes pins and alligator clips?
  13. Aug 19, 2007 #12


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    Oooohhh... now you're getting into my scene... :tongue2:
  14. Aug 20, 2007 #13


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    "high current"? if that power supply was good for an amp, i would say that your life was at some risk. you don't have to be Ted Bundy to have current paths diverted through other parts of your body. venecular fillibration can be assured if your heart gets 250 mA.

    BTW, about 4 decades ago, i was a ham radio operator. Heathkit HW-100. 700 volts with about 300 mA. trying to measure that through the cage nearly put me on my butt.
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