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I just put this up on the Mythbuster's site...... Answered

I just posted the following over there, so hopefully a method can be devised to test this safely:

(1999) A US Navy safety publication describes injuries incurred while doing don'ts. One page described the fate of a sailor playing with a multimeter in an unauthorized manner. He was curious about the resistance level of the human body. He had a Simpson 260 multimeter, a small unit powered by a 9-volt battery. That may not seem powerful enough to be dangerous… but it can be deadly in the wrong hands.

The sailor took a probe in each hand to measure his bodily resistance from thumb to thumb. But the probes had sharp tips, and in his excitement he pressed his thumbs hard enough against the probes to break the skin. Once the salty conducting fluid known as blood was available, the current from the multimeter traveled right across the sailor's heart, disrupting the electrical regulation of his heartbeat. He died before he could record his Ohms.



10 years ago

No amps are what kills. There is no way a 9 volt battery could put out enough.


tech-kingsays: "its usually the amperage that kills, not the volts." thejrbsays: "No amps are what kills." You don't know anything about electricity, do you? You're just parroting something you heard on the Internet from someone else who knew nothing about electricity. Please learn more about the subject before misleading others.

Under normal circumstances I would agree. But, there are cases of "low amperage deaths" caused.
I am neither arguing for nor against the idea the moment, but just fielding both sides.

Posted at BoingBoing under the topic of: Edison electrocuted an elephant 105 years ago today
It's all about the wattage folks (volts x amps)- not AC vs DC. High voltage with low amperage will not kill you, nor will low voltage with high amperage.

But ramp up wattage and either DC or AC will kill. AC will defibrilate your heart ...

This was the contention of the those perpetuating the idea I started with: that the ramp up and back down was sharp and fast, and created the problem. Death can occur with as little as 0.03 Amps (30 milliamps) of electricity passing through the heart and disrupting the electrical circuitry of the heart.

Take note of: from Engineering.ORG

cool, I want to see this on Mythbusters

I haven't seen any interest yet.... *sigh*

Well yeah, I'm kind of a Mythbusters geek and, maybe later someone will think that this is cool too. : )

I doubt this actually happened. In theory it sounds exciting and feasible, but I doubt there's any way a 9v battery, even directly across the heart, will kill.

I guess it just comes down to what would cause the heart to start pumping with an irregular rhythm. I too am skeptical about it, but I would like to know if it would be possible.

I am a bit skeptical myself, but I never totally dismiss anything without fully understanding it first. (BTW: I only hate this time of year because I become a human capacitor and discharge lightning bolts everywhere I go....I HATE being shocked.....)

I lost my feel for electricity (I can hold a 9 volt on my toung until it dies)

Why would you want your tongue to die ? :-)

Because I'm dead on the inside X-p (the battery dies, not my tongue- my senses of heat and electricity are very dull)

Sorry, I was playing or your words: hold a 9 v. on my tongue until it (the tongue) dies :-) I know you meant until the battery dies..... You probably have a much lower threshold of pain.

Yeah, I have a high tolerance for pain. I think the ability to sense heat and electricity (electro-magnetic radiation) should be considered a whole separate sense. It's more than just "touch"

Hmm, with electricity, yes, it disrupts the nervous system to a great degree (which is why it is so unnerving to me I guess).

Sometimes I get shocked so many times I started to get scared to bump into things or touch them at all even if its made out of plastic

I have banged my knuckles sore because I would rather feel that then the shock *shiver*

Yes, but does that mean it takes as much to interrupt the natural rhythm of the heart ?

I don't know - when you see defibrillators being used on TV, they don't mention voltage, they mention energy - "charging to 300 joules" etc.

I do know, under certain conditions a myocardial infarction (or sometimes worse, an uncontrolled fibulation event) can occur with a relatively minor interruption of the the signal that keeps the heart's rhythm going.

You're probably right - the cellular clock that keeps the heart beating in rhythm must only be working on a tiny voltage, so messing the signal up could also take a similarly small voltage.

An infarction is a blockage event (plaque or a clot blocks the blood supply to the heart tissue)

Yeah, got my terms confused again (or just plain forgot). Infarctions are normally caused by artery occlusions. I, of course, meant sudden cardiac arrest.

Because the heart functions on the proper regulation of 2 beats, having just one of them interrupted or misfired can cause an event if the heart is unable to "right" itself. Most of the time, it can.

Not enough to kill you. It might skip a beet or two though. Also who says it will go across the heart. I do not know much of the inner working some the body but there must be a quicker way to get from one hand to the other not going through the heart.

Well, like I intended to indicate, I doubt it myself "unless" certain mitigating circumstances are involved.

there are 2 main versions of this story; one as above, and the other one differs only in that the sailor sent the current through "on purpose"; shoving the probes deep into his thumbs. To me I have to wonder how the story got kept so uniform as to only have 2 versions related in the armed forces.

Busted! (sort of) I actually er.... did this. I accidentally stabbed through my finger with a probe while trying to poke through some insulation in a wire - the other probe was in my mouth. I'm not sure what the multimeter was using in terms of a power source, but I really doubt this one.

hmmm.... sounds plausible...

i am curious though: who's your source on this one?

do you have to say the king of trustworthiness?

Well we are all king of something I suppose: :-) Theres a little black spot on the sun today Its the same old thing as yesterday Theres a black hat caught in a high tree top Theres a flag pole rag and the wind wont stop I have stood here before inside the pouring rain With the world turning circles running round my brain I guess I'm always hoping that you'll end this reign But its my destiny to be the king of pain Theres a fossil thats trapped in a high cliff wall Thats my soul up there Theres a dead salmon frozen in a waterfall Thats my soul up there Theres a blue whale beached by a spring-tides ebb Thats my soul up there Theres a butterfly trapped in a spiders web Thats my soul up there I have stood here before inside the pouring rain With the world turning circles running round my brain I guess I'm always hoping that you'll end this reign But its my destiny to be the king of pain Theres a king on a throne with his eyes torn out Theres a blind man looking for a shadow of doubt Theres a rich man sleeping on a golden bed Theres a skeleton choking on a crust of bread King of pain Theres a red fox thorn by a huntsmans pack Thats my soul up there Theres a black winged gull with a broken back Thats my soul up there Theres a little black spot on the sun today Its the same old thing as yesterday I have stood here before inside the pouring rain With the world turning circles running round my brain I guess Im always hoping that youll end this reign But its my destiny to be the king of pain King of pain King of pain King of pain Ill always be king of pain Ill always be king of pain Ill always be king of pain...

now im depressed. btw, can i copy this and enter it in an English project?

Not unless you fancy being accused of stealing a song by "The Police..."

ohh the irony. fine. i wont copy it.

Yeah, sorry I forgot to give the artist *blush* my bad.

Sorry, I didn't mean to depress you. This song by the Police just came to mind though as we spoke of "kings and such" :-)

lol, i love the darwin awards, but i agree, they can't always be trustworthy :]

I'd say busted. I just measured a few of my crappy old DMM's output on different resistance measuring ranges. Unless I used a range specially made for checking diodes or for continuity testing the current that the DMM's delivered was between 5uA and 100uA at a voltage of approx 0.3 volts. I highly doubt that even if pushed directly into the heart tissue it would affect the heart rhythm due to the current. Possibly an old analogue meter would output a higher current because it's less sensitive. Anyone here with both an digital and an analogue DMM that can verify?

Darwin Awards? Seems familiar...

I came across this in the past, but didn't have anyone to discuss it with :-)

And now you have thousands of people to discuss it with!!!

i think theyll actually test this one...it seems pretty good and good for them to test...

they will have to create the same "chemically composite" situation as in a person in order to do this. I wouldn't think they would jam electrodes into themselves to find out :-)

or maybe a thick "soup" of body like chemicals......um, never mind, that would be too complicated......let's find a pig....but we need a live one to see if the battery can kill or not ( this is NOT ASPCA approved)

I had a whole list of really good ideas. I keep forgetting them when I need them and remember when I don't. I think one involved a zipper saving you from a bullet. Another was something around a saying, like the "shooting fish in a barrel".

Any thoughts about this?