Not sure what you’re saying Svt4Him As noted at the top of the column you linked, it’s from 1977. And I’m sure that there have been lots of Joseph Patrick O’Malleys – if you look up “stereotypical Irish names” in the dictionary, you’ll find it listed.
Cecil writes: The combination of water and electricity is notoriously volatile–
I suppose this is nitpicky. But if this is about fighting ignorance…Isn’t pure H2O a fair insulator and only is conductive in the presence of dissolved solids? Obviously piss would be a good conductor. I just thought perhaps Cecil’s comment when taken literally, is incorrect. Although to be fair, when we speak of water, we generally mean the garden variety rather than distilled. Begs the question, do you really fry if a boom box or toaster lands in the bath tub with you?
Yes, but water in nature is very rarely pure. And even perfectly pure water isn’t a perfect insulator (though it is admittedly a fairly decent one with a resistivity of about 18.2 MÙcm
at 25 °C). Among insulators, however, this is positively coinductive, given that the king of insulators, PTFE Teflon has a resistivity of about 10[sup]18[/sup]Ùcm–or over half a trillion times better than the purest water.
In Montreal a few years ago a teenaged girl relieved herself on the third rail. She went to the emergency department where she received a clean bill of health, but died at home a few hours later. Best source to validate this if you wish would be to search for the story in the Montreal Gazette (http://www.canada.com/Montreal and follow the links).
Didn’t anyone else notice that this question/answer about the third rail is old? I’ve read this exact question and answer in the Straight Dope archives while browsing, if not more recently in the daily online column. What gives? Has Cecil started recycling? That just doesn’t seem right.
From the UK newspaper The Guardian, 10 March 2000, in the National Roundup colomn:
Man dies urinating on live rail line
A man was electrocuted after urinating on a live railway line, an inquest heard yesterday.
Six hundred volts of electricity formed an arc into the tip of Saliamin Akrami’s penis, causing him to convulse and collapse on top of the live rail, Hornsey coroners court was told.
Afghan asylum seeker Mr Akrami, 32, of Willesden, north-west London, was discovered by a group of workmen repairing the track at deserted Kensal Green station in the early hours of October 23 last year.
Pathologist Rufus Crompton said the cause of death was electrocution. The only injuries were burns but the most telling was a tiny, precise burn mark to the urinary opening of the penis.
Mr Crompton told the court that, in his opinion, a stream of urine hitting electricity was the only way this type of injury could be caused.
The alcohol level present was 198mg - more than twice the drink-drive limit - and it was likely Mr Akrami was drunk.
The jury returned a verdict of misadventure.
The case was reconvened yesterday after an adjournment on Tuesday to allow relatives to examine CCTV footage of Mr Akrami on the station platform.
I just love the word ‘misadventure’ when it’s used in this sense. I think we (Americans) should use it in preference to the often misused ‘accident’.
Accidents are those unforseeable occurences that could only be prevented by extreme measures of coddling and “idiot-proofing” our world.
Misadventures, on the other hand, are totally preventable, prodvided a little discretion, attention or “common sense” be displayed on the part of the victim.
Brakes failed, hit bridge embankment = accident.
Got angry at bumper-sticker of slow car ahead and attempted to pass at unsafe speed, hitting bridge embankment = misadventure
“We will not press charges against the electricity company because we consider this to have been his destiny,” relatives of the late Pallop Thachao told reporters in Bangkok, “but it is all very sad and sudden. We were driving past a tollbooth last night when Pallop said he needed to relieve himself, so we pulled over at the side of the highway, and let him out. He stood beneath an electricity pole and began to urinate, when all at once there was a flash of light, and we instantly feared the worst. We searched for him in the darkness, but all we found were ashes.
Mysteriously, his artificial leg was still standing upright, all by itself, with the foot welded to the ground and smoke coming out of the top. We were all sick on the spot.”
Later, Police Captain Narongchat Sajjathai explained how Pallop Thachao had met his death. “There was a heavy rainstorm last night, and ground water had collected around the pole. An exposed cable was in contact with the water, and the stream of urine must have completed an electrical circuit. He might have survived, but his prosthetic leg was a strong conductor of electricity, and that proved fatal. Tragic though this incident is, it highlights the folly of urinating near electrical equipment, especially during the rainy season.” (Taipei Times, 5/7/03.)
Pardon my skepticism, butler1850, but that sounds like classic UL material. Has your father ever personally seen one?
I’ll bet the yard workers are having fun with him, or just passing on stories they themselves have been told. It’s very common to retell stories as being closer in origin to the teller than they really are, for more dramatic impact.