And then he burst into flames

I am extremely prone to static electricity. Especially in the winter, I get charged up every 10 minutes and I am giving off sparks (Exaggerated. Don’t sue.) whenever I touch any metallic surface. And on several occasions, I have given tiny shocks to friends on contact. 😀 They were NOT amused. Not that it’s ecstasy for me either. That’s why I hate wearing fleece. And sweaters. And dry winters.

But let me tell you this – if you are in a dark room and sufficiently charged up with static electricity, observe closely when you touch a metallic surface. If you are lucky, you can see a faint spark. 🙂

The unfortunate (and scary) part is, I came across theories for Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC). It refers to a phenomenon where the human body burns without an external source of ignition. It is a subject of controversy and debate, as this is not proved to be a natural phenomenon. The most widely believed theory is that clothing is set afire due to a heavy discharge of static electricity. There are quite a few supporting (but inconclusive) cases where people were capable of carrying 30,000 volts in static and they caused small flares either at their workplace or in their own clothing.

From Wikipedia:
[…] The professor explained that under certain conditions (walking on carpets during dry winter weather, for example) almost anyone can build up an electrostatic charge of as much as 20,000 volts. Hence the shock we sometimes feel when touching a car door or other metal surface. Usually, the electricity is harmlessly discharged through the tips of the hair; however, the professor claimed, there are some people (he guessed around one in 100,000) whose abnormally dry skin permits them to generate as much as 30,000 volts at a time. In certain circumstances, he said, such people may be highly dangerous. They may, for example, have been the detonators that touched off explosions in hospital operating theaters whose atmosphere contained an admixture of anesthetic vapor and air. In addition, the professor was convinced that workers in ordnance factories and petroleum refineries should be tested to discover whether they have the type of skin which retains electric charges more persistently than others. […]

Here’s SOUTHPARK’s take on Spontaneous Human Combustion. It’s hilarious! And a Calvin & Hobbes strip that was published once upon a time.

Heh! 🙂

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2 Responses to “And then he burst into flames”
  1. Ankur says:

    are there any verified proof of SHC?

  2. Kokonad says:

    Nope. All speculation. And insufficient evidence for conclusive results.

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