Monday, June 27, 2005

What Grounds You?

I received a comment and several e-mails about rubber tires offering a degree of lightning protection. Now, I'm not a physicist and will gladly defer to someone who is, but it seems to me that your car's (or your bike's) tires are not what protects you from lightning. Think about it. Lightning has just jumped thousands of feet to hit you; how much protection is an inch or less of rubber sidewall going to give you? Especially considering that the rubber is usually wet from the rain that accompanies lightning.

No, you're relatively lightning-safe in your car because the metal body and frame act as efficient conductors of electricity, safely routing it to the ground before it turns the car's occupants into popcorn. I doubt a carbon fiber bike frame offers quite the same level of protection. And I'm not willing to do a Ben Franklin to find out.

Now all you smart people who paid attention in class can tell me the real story.

3 comments:

Flatman said...

You are correct. It is the "cage" that you are sitting in that protects you because the electrical current travels along the metal body of the car and dissipates to the ground.

mipper said...

well, i paid attention in class, as well as all those severe weather drlls we had when i lived in the midwest for a short time (wait, is ohio the mid-west?) and all i remember was "get as low as you can and DON'T GO OUTSIDE IN BAD WEATHER." ok, that concludes my lecture of the day. glad you are home safe and verticle.

Vertical Man said...

Yes, Ohio is the Midwest at least by my definition. I think it was rule #2 (not going outside in bad weather) that I messed up on! I'm pretty low to the ground under most circumstances.