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NicoleB
09-06-2010, 05:35 PM
Is it possible for a person to get shocked if they are touching a tree when it gets hit?

Furthermore, if another person is touching the person who is touching the tree (confusing, I know) would they get shocked, too?

TIA

OneWriter
09-06-2010, 06:09 PM
Wood does not conduct electricity. However, to be so close to the hitting point of lightning would be NO FUN. The person would definitely feel the vibration and would jump, maybe leap several feet away? Maybe you could google the story of the guy who was so close to lightning his shirt got tore. I believe he suffered burns and stuff like that.

Maryn
09-06-2010, 06:24 PM
The tree will not conduct the electrical current. However, you can be struck by lightning when you're under a tree. It's uncommon--usually the lightning will take the higher object--but it happens.

If Person A is touching Person B when B is struck by lightning, yes, they will also be shocked. Our bodies conduct electricity quite well.

I've seen this happen in a large circle of people holding hands as part of a ceremony, a shock traveling the whole circle in seconds from someone turning off a lamp and getting a mild shock.

When I worked for a utility company, our basic training (which we hardly needed to work the phones in customer service) included that if you believe someone is in contact with live current, you do not touch him, period, not even to break the current and possibly save his life. You break the current only with an object you are certain does not conduct electricity, such as a large piece of plastic or rubber, or a tree limb. (Yeah, like we had those lying around in freakin' Tucson.)

Maryn, scared of lightning

Seaclusion
09-06-2010, 06:24 PM
Shocked may not be quite the right word for what they would feel. Have you ever heard the saying 'don't stand under a tree when there is lightning out'. Well, there's a reason for that. You would probably recieve a huge side flash from the tree. Possibly deadly

Have them stand far away from the tree and recieve a shock from a side flash of the lightning that hits the tree. Or have them inside a shed that gets hit and recieve a shock from the side flash. Touching the tree that gets hit would almost certainly produce an incapacitating 'jolt' if not deadly.


Richard

Brutal Mustang
09-06-2010, 06:41 PM
Few years ago, lightning struck the ranch where I keep my horses. The lady who runs the place had her hands on a metal pipe fence at the time, about 1/4 mile away from the strike, and felt a shock through the fence.

You have a lot of artistic freedom with lightening, and the degree a person gets shocked by it. Nothing is really lightening proof. It will go through anything, if the conditions are right. And it will do just about anything, if the conditions are right.

CaoPaux
09-06-2010, 06:47 PM
As I understand it, it's not the wood but the the water in a (live) tree that conducts, which is why a struck tree blows apart, etc. The bolt travels through the tree along the live matter (just under the bark) to the roots, and could thus easily jump to a person touching it or simply standing nearby (hence the perennial warning not to stand under a tree during a storm). Add standing in a puddle or wearing metal for further conductive action.

Cyia
09-06-2010, 06:51 PM
I'm assuming the person would be wet, since it's likely raining, so that would make the effect worse.

And yes, skin to skin contact can pass an electric current. We did that in physics class in high school with a circle of hands and a generator. If the current is slow and constant, it sort of tickles and makes your hair stand up. If the current 'pops' into a larger, unexpected burst, it hurts and even at small power levels was enough to make us jump apart.

NicoleB
09-06-2010, 07:24 PM
Thank you for the quick replies! Your answers have been very useful and I appreciate it.

Chase
09-06-2010, 07:29 PM
Every poster spelled lightning to mean the electrical phenomenon and didn't try to pass off "lightening" as its spelling, as so many do. That's . . . well . . . a phenomenon of its own!

Don't credit the spell-checker, either. Lightening passed here, meaning to lessen or to pale.

Edit. Of course, Nicole meant "Thank you for the lightning replies!" As times goes by, she'll learn to snark with the rest of this crew.

boron
09-06-2010, 07:37 PM
It has been known that people got killed when they stood below the treee, touching the tree or not. Also in a storm, trees are usually wet...

P.S. Anyone...please grammar-check my above sentences.

NicoleB
09-06-2010, 07:39 PM
Every poster spelled lightning to mean the electrical phenomenon and didn't try to pass off "lightening" as its spelling, as so many do. That's . . . well . . . a phenomenon of its own!

Don't credit the spell-checker, either. Lightening passed here, meaning to lessen or to pale.

Edit. Of course, Nicole meant "Thank you for the lightning replies!" As times goes by, she'll learn to snark with the rest of this crew.

Yes, of course! I'm taking notes ;)

Lhun
09-06-2010, 08:33 PM
Electricity takes the path of least resistance, if more than one path is available the flow will divide proportionally according to relative resistance.
So, depending on the internal resistance of the tree and the person touching it, the result could be anything from just a nasty shock (even a very little percentage is a lot with that energy) to the person taking most of the strike and getting fried.
Of course, if it's a pretty wet tree (lots of sap, not wet from rain), the heat from the lightning can cause it to explode. That's what happened to trees that got "split" by a lightning strike, the sap along the path of the lightning was flash boiled and exploded.

Addendum:
On another note, even when take most of the force from the lightning strike, what happens to a person is somewhat unpredictable. High-energy high-voltage electricity can act really weird. Although odds are that a person that gets hit will be mostly cooked, there can be other results. For example, if the conditions are right, the electricity will not run through the body but arc along the surface, leaving the person mostly unharmed (though with burned skin of varying degrees). As far as i'm aware, still no-one really knows what the exact right conditions are, though this only happens at very high voltages. (i.e. lightning yes, power socket no)

RJK
09-06-2010, 08:41 PM
The water in the tree conducts the lightning down to and through the roots, the toots spread out near the surface of the ground about as far as the branches above. If you are within this radius, you are going to be part of the light show.

Remember, the current flows UP from the ground, to the clouds. It will go through you, jumping the short distance to the tree, then from the top of the tree, to the cloud. If you don't feel the shock, it's probably because you're dead.

Cyia
09-06-2010, 10:44 PM
Remember, the current flows UP from the ground, to the clouds. .

This is true. What you see as a lightning strike is usually a "rebound" effect tracing back down the path the current followed up.

NicoleB
09-06-2010, 10:50 PM
So basically I can take creative license because just about anything can happen. I only need them shocked into another universe, anyway.

Thanks again, everyone!

benbradley
09-06-2010, 10:57 PM
Is it possible for a person to get shocked if they are touching a tree when it gets hit?

Furthermore, if another person is touching the person who is touching the tree (confusing, I know) would they get shocked, too?

TIA
Yes and yes, but as others in the thread indicate, lightning has a huge amount of power, and they're as likely to get killed as just shocked if it strikes the tree they're under. They could get shocked when lightning strikes another tree 20 feet away - I'd find it more believable that way.

You may have heard the Benjamin Franklin story of flying a kite in a thunderstorm to "prove that lightning is electricity." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin#Electricity) If true, he was damn lucky to live through it.

Wood does not conduct electricity. However, to be so close to the hitting point of lightning would be NO FUN. The person would definitely feel the vibration and would jump, maybe leap several feet away? Maybe you could google the story of the guy who was so close to lightning his shirt got tore. I believe he suffered burns and stuff like that.
Even "dry" wood has SOME moisture in it, and lightning is more likely to go through a dry 2x4 than through the air next to it.

Few years ago, lightning struck the ranch where I keep my horses. The lady who runs the place had her hands on a metal pipe fence at the time, about 1/4 mile away from the strike, and felt a shock through the fence.

You have a lot of artistic freedom with lightening, and the degree a person gets shocked by it. Nothing is really lightening proof. It will go through anything, if the conditions are right. And it will do just about anything, if the conditions are right.
Being inside a car, truck or metal airplane is pretty safe. The roof, body and frame have a LOT of metal in them and do well at conducting the lightning strike around enclosed passengers.

But anywhere outside is dangerous, some less so (lying down, in a ditch) than others (standing up just about anywhere).

Maryn
09-06-2010, 11:11 PM
My former boss was struck by lightning and lived to tell the tale. Your character 'shocked to another universe' should probably have at the least some of the mildest after-effects.

(My boss had muscle and tendon damage from the knee down on the leg in contact with the ground when he was struck. A full recovery took about three years. In the meantime, it ached a lot, and he walked with a limp.)

Maryn, deep background

Giant Baby
09-07-2010, 12:19 AM
So basically I can take creative license because just about anything can happen. I only need them shocked into another universe, anyway.

Thanks again, everyone!

"What Happens When Lightning and People Converge (http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/1999/essd18jun99_1/)" from NASA Science News.

Also, there's some interesting information on eMedicine (http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/770642-overview), including: "Fractures are uncommon and occur more rarely in lightning injuries than in high-voltage injuries. Being thrown tens of yards because of intense muscle contraction is frequently reported." (Bolding mine.)

The way I see it, you could certainly have your characters thrown my the lightning, but you might get more bang for your buck if you have the strike blow something up near by and have them thrown by the force of the explosion. Neither is totally out of the question.

If you don't want them to experience some significant impairment from it (some immediate, some later on-set), you may want to consider having your character blown back by an explosion. As Maryn said, there will be medical consequences to a lightning strike. (Assuming they're average human beings with normal physiologies?)