Faraday’s Cage, Revisited

Life on the Blue Highways has had its fair share of very popular issues, some others that cost us readers, and many more that were just a collection of sentences, some with pictures.  Faraday’s Cage, published April 20, 2013 has had more hits than anything else we’ve ever posted.  And it’s not close.

In that original post, our illustration was of a guy, who resembles my idea of some fat fellow from New Jersey dressed for a vacation in Miami.  He was standing inside a big wire cage which was being struck by a Van de Graaff generator.  Those machines create small-scale lightning, pure static electricity like lightning, but at far lower amperages, voltages, joules, and temperatures.  If you’ve ever licked a 9 volt smoke detector battery (don’t ask how I know this, or why), you learned from experience that even tiny jolts of electricity will wake you up.  That original post showed only a still photo, and from it you can tell he is not being hurt.  Still it’s just one picture.

Several weeks ago I found this story and 30 second video of lightning striking a pickup truck.  It has pretty good sound as well.  You hear the engine of the videographer’s vehicle, a bit of road noise, an explosion, a scream from the camera gal, and then “You all right?”   He survived and was unhurt, the outcome I assured you would occur all those years ago.  I wonder how he had the presence of mind to keep his truck going on a straight line but here’s my theory.  It’s due to the very sudden-ness of a lightning bolt.  He saw brilliant light and heard an explosion at the same time.  In a second or three he knew his truck had been hit but was still rolling and upright.  That’s when he got scared. 

Unlike you and me, he didn’t know about Faraday’s Cage.  I consider The Washington Post a very good newspaper, even my online version.  But a good newspaper would have interviewed that truck’s driver.  WaPo missed out on the full story.  Local news got some of it – the driver felt “lucky to be alive”.  His wife, the videographer, told them “He and our kids are fine.  But the truck’s fried”.  Electronics or paint, they did not say. 

Here’s that video.   I sure hope WaPo isn’t hiding it behind its paywall.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2022/07/07/lightning-video-flash-car-explained/

This one will work!

4 thoughts on “Faraday’s Cage, Revisited

    1. Other than going to a Georgia town with computers in its library I don’t know how to check paywalls. I will try to capture a picture of the lightning flash off mine and post it.

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