Sunday, August 20, 2006
Static Shock: Static Electricity Starts Fire
The is one of those stories that seemed too outrageous to be true, but I've found multiple sources, for what that's worse. Today, we consider the story of Frank Clewer, an Australian man went for a job interview in a nylon jacket and a wool shirt. Sounds nice. But as he walked into the building, his clothing generated so much static electricity that it set the carpet on fire. The fire department estimated that his clothes carried a charge of 40,000 volts. He even left scorch marks on the carpet and melted plastic in his car. This reminds me of the Dilbert cartoon where Dogbert walks over a carpet to build up a charge and calls himself Dog of Thunder. We could harness this as a new renewable energy source. All we have to do is have a bunch of guys wearing wool and nylon clothes walking on a carpet all day long. Every now and then, they touch an electrode to discharge the energy. Or make them women jogging in wool bikinis, and make it a pay-per-view. Guys will pay to watch it, subsidizing the cost. Not as efficient as solar or wind power, but sounds a lot more fun.