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#44003 10/26/04 02:13 PM
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
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pauluk Offline OP
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We haven't had any Darwin stories for a while, so here's a couple which just go to show that however safe we make things, there's no protection against stupidity.

(13 August 1999, California)
On Friday the 13th, Scott and his sister Kimberly had an electrifying experience while attempting to view the annual Perseid meteor shower. Scott, an aspiring young astronomer, set up his telescope for a closer view of the sky. Alas, poor Scott did not reflect on the merits of using a telescope for watching the Perseids.A telescope is really a hindrance. The wide field of vision of a naked eye will catch far more shooting stars than a telescope, particularly if that eye is taken away from from city lights into the desert or mountains.

Having already proven to be a poor astronomer, Scott proceeded to show that he was not much of an electrician, either. Bothered by the glare of a nearby streetlight, he broke into the base of the light pole and attempted to sever the 4000-volt power cord. He was pronounced dead at Hoag Memorial Hospital shortly after his spectacularly aborted skywatching attempt.

At 1AM on Friday, Scott used pliers to pry open an inspection plate at the base of the streetlight, then sawed into the 2-centimeter wire. Kimberly saw a flash knock him onto his back.

Scott had the technical know-how to construct a computer from scratch or wire a burglar alarm. "He was trying to solve a problem and not using his head, and he made a mistake," grieved the dead man's father. "He didn't realize the power."

A spokesman for Southern California Edison said, "This is another example of why you shouldn't tamper with electricity if you don't know what you're doing." A friend of Scott's remarked, "Scott had a itch for doing things with his hands. He has done many dangerous things. This time he made a fatal mistake." Another friend said, "Don't confuse bravery with stupidity."

There are no shooting stars for Scott this Friday the 13th, but he does have a shot at winning a Darwin Award.

And from this side of the Big Pond:

(1999, England)
Wayne wanted to make a few bucks by selling stolen scrap metal. He sneaked into a demolition site and surveyed the area for valuable hunks of debris. His eyes fastened upon what appeared to be a 3" thick copper pipe. That would fetch a fine fee! But it was too heavy for him to budge it.

He hauled a few lesser chunks of metal away, and returned with sturdy bolt cutters. It was then, when he attempted to sever the pipe, that he was shocked to discover that it was actually an aluminum cable carrying 11,000 volts of power. The paramedics who later tried to revive the electrified Wayne were thwarted by the current. He did not survive to be charged with his offences.

#44004 10/26/04 11:59 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 265
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4kv in a light pole? I think someone got their numbers out of wack. [Linked Image]

#44005 10/27/04 11:04 AM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,407
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You have to watch them Scott's in California, before you know it, they won't only be doing dangerous things with electricity, heck, they'll be posting about it too!. [Linked Image]

#44006 10/27/04 11:29 AM
Joined: Aug 2001
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pauluk Offline OP
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I wondered about the 4kV as well, thinking it might be a typo for 480V.

Haven't we heard that there are still some series-wired street lights around though, with pretty high voltages if you happen to be at the right (or wrong?) end of the chain?

#44007 10/27/04 07:01 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 265
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Member
Series wired street lights? I think that would make my problems with christmas tree lights look trivial [Linked Image]

#44008 10/28/04 08:00 AM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 183
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Member
Edison's original street lights were series-wired (remember - he did everything with direct current). To get around the problem with burned-out bulbs, he had two electrodes in the bulb, in parallel with the filament, held apart with a piece of paper. When the bulb burned out, there was enough voltage across the paper to arc through it and burn it away. The two electrodes would then contact and spotweld.

They do the same with Christmas bulbs now days except they use a thin wrap of (specially) insulated wire across the filament supports.

/mike

#44009 10/30/04 12:51 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 364
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