Academic journal article Science and Children

Shocking Science

Academic journal article Science and Children

Shocking Science

Article excerpt

Last month, we asked you to figure out why, when you get charged up in dry weather by shuffling across a carpet or by just pushing a shopping cart, you can reduce or eliminate an electric shock by touching something metal with the back of your hand or by using a metal key to touch metal.

Anyway, these two methods work for two reasons. The first and less important one is that excess charge on electric conductors tends to accumulate on surfaces of sharply rounded objects (as long as the excess charges remain on the surface, which they do on conductors, they can be farther away from one another, along the surface, on sharply-rounded objects). Therefore, excess charges are more likely to accumulate on the tip of your finger than on the back of your hand (your skin is a pretty good conductor of electricity). That means you'll get less of a shock touching metal with the back of your hand than with your fingertip. …

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