Tasers, how and why do they work?

I haven’t ever used one myself, but I would like to know.

Do they run on standard batteries? (AA, AAA, 9V)

I am guessing there must be an open circuit or something, since you don’t get shocked when you take a couple of batteries out of the package.

Also, can a taser alone be lethal? If they run on standard batteries, I wouldn’t think it would be enough voltage to kill. I have been shocked w/ 220 volts before, and it obviously didn’t kill me. (it was an accident, really.)

Tasers operate at several tens of thousands of volts. It’s not the voltage that kills you, it’s the current passing through your heart (or brain) that does it. Tasers operate at very high voltages, but the currents are very small. They run on standard batteries, but have circuitry to boost the voltage many thousands of times. A taser can kill, but it’s usually due to secondary condtions, such as heart disease. It takes about 100 mA of current to kill a healthy adult, but a Taser operates in the uA range.

A taser is a device that basically shoots out small, hooked darts connected to the base by wires, out the front for a dozen or so feet; these darts hook into the skin or clothing, and electricity in the base goes through the wires into the target at, as ** Q.E.D. ** mentioned, very high voltage, but low amperage.

There are also “fixed” tasers with no darts, IIRC, and you have to get the victim between the two ‘poles’ extending from the device.

I liked the scene from the movie “Bloodsport” where Vandame deflected the darts from the two tasers so they hit the chinese cops, then grabbed the tasers from the other cops hands and pointed them threateningly at them, at which point they gave up.

Hey dumbasses, those tasers only have one shot, he’s pointing the equivilent of an unloaded gun at you - just takle him!!!

Ahh well, of course the cops in that kind of movie are required to have IQ’s lower than their shoe size, otherwise the film would last about 5 minutes…

Thanks for the link, pravnik , I had heard about howstuffworks, but hadn’t thought to check there.