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Physics/Electric Eel's shock

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Question
Hi! An electric eel is capable of producing electric shocks that are 600 volts and 1 ampere that can knock down a horse in water at 6 meter radius. So could you tell me if an electric eel was on dry land producing the same electric shock how far could it travel in the air? Could the shock travel even 10 centimeters before the higher resistance of the atmosphere would stop the shock?

Answer
There would be no shock. For dry air about 10,000 Volts is required to send a current through 2.5 cm of dry air. 600 Volts would not be nearly enough for 10 centimeters - air is a pretty good insulator. In fact, it is the most common insulator we use. Salt water (but NOT distiller water) is an excellent conductor of electricity.

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James J. Kovalcin

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I am teaching or have taught AP physics B and C [calculus based mechanics & electricity and magnetism] as well as Lab Physics for college bound students. I have a BS in Physics from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Arts in Teaching from same. I have been teaching physics for 34 years. I am constantly updating my skills and have a particular interest in modern physics topics.

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