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9/19/2005

This could explain that whole 'spontaneous human combustion' thing

From ABC News via Battlepanda:
Victorian authorities believe a man built up at least 30,000 volts of static electricity in his jacket simply by walking around the western Victorian city of Warrnambool yesterday.

The man left a trail of scorch marks and molten plastic behind him.

It was yesterday afternoon when Frank Clewer walked into a Warrnambool business and got his first shock.

"It sounded almost like a firecracker or something like that," he said.

"It was at the reception area. Within say, around five minutes, the carpet started to erupt," he said.

Burns the size of 10-cent pieces were left on the carpet where Mr Clewer had been standing.

The Country Fire Authority evacuated the building and those around it, fearing the power could cause larger electrical problems.

But Mr Clewer's worries continued when he got back in his car.

"I actually scorched a piece of plastic I had on the floor of the car," he said.

Scientist Karl Kruszelnicki says it is likely the electrical build-up was caused by a number of factors, such as the synthetic clothes the man was wearing.

"This poor guy has built up static electricity thanks to an unfortunate combination of insulating clothes that he's wearing, static, synthetic clothes, just walking along and he's just building up this static charge everywhere," Dr Kruszelnicki said.

"I've read of it but I've never heard of it here in Australia."

The CFA has Mr Clewer's jacket and says it is continuing to give off voltage.

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