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A Dangerous Myth about Electricity
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A Dangerous Myth about Electricity

   

Credit: Daniel Oines
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/58871905@N03/6762664003/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

This shoe has a rubber sole. You may have heard that rubber-soled shoes will protect you from electricity if you accidentally touch an electric line or are struck by lightning. Do you think it’s a myth or a fact? Knowing the correct answer might save your life.

News You Can Use

  • Electric current can travel only through a material known as an electric conductor. Metals such as copper are good electric conductors.
  • Credit: Beatrice Murch
    Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blmurch/3261787828/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Copper is commonly used in electrical wiring due to its conductivity [Figure2]

     

  • Electric current cannot travel through a material known as an electric insulator. Rubber is an example of a good electric insulator.
  • Can rubber-soled shoes insulate you from electricity? Listen to the song, “Lightning Strike Blues” at the following link. The character in the song claims he was protected from a lightning strike because he was wearing rubber-soled shoes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFabmkOyuug

Can You Apply It?

Learn more about electric conductors and insulators at the link below. Then answer the questions that follow.

  1. Why can a bird rest safely on a power line?
  2. If a person standing on the ground touches the same power line as the bird, the person will be shocked. Why?
  3. Electric circuits are always grounded. What does this mean, and why is this done?
  4. Why would an ungrounded circuit be dangerous?
  5. If you were to touch a power line while wearing rubber-soled shoes, would the rubber soles protect you from shock? Why or why not?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Daniel Oines; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/58871905@N03/6762664003/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Beatrice Murch; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blmurch/3261787828/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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