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Script notes: Electricity

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155980.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 5:13 am Reply with quote

Here's where we can post comments/additions/corrections about JP's script 'Electricity'.

155987.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 5:29 am Reply with quote

Lovely script. This is just a piece of pedantry, but if I can’t indulge that vice here, then where?

“For the conspiracy theorists among you, on Tesla’s death the US government broke into his safe all his notes and possessions were declared secret government property.”

This usage of “conspiracy theory” grates; it has become a meaning-sapping cliche, simply a derogatory or distancing verbal tic. There is no “theory” about the suppression of Tesla’s work; it’s a matter of public record. The US government doesn’t deny suppressing it, and indeed suppressed it openly and in accordance with the law (more or less). A conspiracy theorist is someone who believes that LBJ had JFK murdered; someone who merely believes that JFK was murdered isn't a conspiracy theorist.

156004.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 6:10 am Reply with quote

“Foo Fighters, probably from the French feu (fire) or faux (false). “

It’s debatable, of course, but I think the comic-book explanation for the name is more likely. Have a look at these:

156133.  Tue Mar 13, 2007 10:25 am Reply with quote

Possible alternative outro:

“And God said, 'Let there be light' and there was light, but the Electricity Board said He would have to wait until Thursday to be connected.”

Spike Milligan

Frederick The Monk
156359.  Wed Mar 14, 2007 4:15 am Reply with quote

MatC wrote:
“Foo Fighters, probably from the French feu (fire) or faux (false). “

It’s debatable, of course, but I think the comic-book explanation for the name is more likely.

Yes I saw this explanation which would mean, according to Smokey, that 'foo' comes from the Chinese for Good Luck. Whilst the name is the same I'm not quite sure how anyone would take the cartoon material and apply it to the phenomenon. Howver we can offer up all possibilities.

Frederick The Monk
156725.  Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:13 am Reply with quote

Note to self - Add Graham's Electric bed

Frederick The Monk
157099.  Fri Mar 16, 2007 7:30 am Reply with quote

Note to self - Eggshaped on Franklin's euphemisms for drunkeness

160239.  Tue Mar 27, 2007 3:23 am Reply with quote

Sugar batteries


Sugar is used as fuel by all living things. Now Minteer and her colleagues have adapted enzymes from nature that can strip charges from sugar to generate electricity in fuel cells.

Frederick The Monk
160387.  Tue Mar 27, 2007 8:15 am Reply with quote

Urine batteries

Cheap, disposable, and renewable, urine-powered batteries may be the perfect power source for disposable healthcare test kits called biochips, the researchers say.

160402.  Tue Mar 27, 2007 8:48 am Reply with quote

Some cyanobacteria (remember, those pesky things that originally 'poisoned our atmphere' with oxygen) if deprived of sulphur, start to give off hydrogen instead of oxygen, and this could easily be used as a power source if you could 'farm' enough of them.
Hydrogen gas is seen, as a future energy carrier by virtue of the fact that it does not evolve the "greenhouse gas" CO2 in combustion, liberates large amounts of energy per unit weight in combustion, easily converted to electricity, and is an inexhaustible resource.

The only by-product of burning hydrogen is water, of course, which is nice.

160408.  Tue Mar 27, 2007 8:57 am Reply with quote

Except water vapour is an even more efficient greenhouse gas than CO2. Are you trying to kill us all?!!

160411.  Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:06 am Reply with quote

I expect to have a condenser with a little straw that leads from my iPod straight to my whisky.

Frederick The Monk
160435.  Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:24 am Reply with quote


160816.  Wed Mar 28, 2007 11:25 am Reply with quote

I've just recieved the following from one of the Met Office's lightning specialists:

I am intrigued by your last paragraph as this is not the case.

I recall a story when a whole football team were electrocuted in South America by a strike on the edge of a waterlogged pitch. In July last year, 21 soldiers in Pennsylvania were injured after the metal framed roof of an open pavilion was struck from the storm that they were trying to shelter from!

If a person were out walking across very flat, open ground, say the Fens, or on hills above the tree line - that person might provide the best route to earth! Your comment doesn't really fit with known measurements in the stepped leader or return stroke minima for a ground stroke, which from reliable sources has not been measured to less than 3 metres per step! (ref: Handbook of Atmospheric Electrodynamics, Vollend volume 1).

Since we do not act as a perfect earth, holding something like an umbrella or golf club merely acts as an attractant for the charge pass through the body, causing a combination of flashover burns and irregular heartbeat. Statistics show that death occurs in around 30% of lightning strikes.

So, if caught out in the open in your scenario, you would feel, possibly hear and smell the build-up of charge around you. You would feel the hairs on your body charging, the crackle or fizz of charge becoming audible, and the smell of the ions being transferred from the ground. If you recognised these features quickly enough, you only have a few seconds (if that) you should throw your brolly away and keeping your feet together, crouch down into a ball, with your head down to your knees and hands clasped behind your head. Pray and do not move until the storm has moved away.

It might be well to look at Prof Derek Elsom's site at:-

For a 100 year bibliography of related papers dealing with death and injury (slightly dated 2000) by Ron Holle of NOAA

These two are renowned for the collected statistics for UK and USA respectively.

Paul Taylor

Frustratingly I can't remember what I wrote in the last paragraph which turns out not to be the case.

Not sure if this completely shoots my fox, but I'll check out those links and see if I can salvage anything from this question.

160823.  Wed Mar 28, 2007 11:39 am Reply with quote

The para which begins "So, if caught out in the open in your scenario" could be imported straight into the notes, I would think - I certainly didn't know that you would be able to feel the lightning strike cranking itself up in the way described. And it answers the question "what should you do?" very well.

From the context, I wonder if the last para that you can't remember from your e-mail might have suggested that being the tallest thing in the area wouldn't make any appreciable difference to your chances of receiving a strike? That seems to be what he's repudiating, for the most part.


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