Below is what you may experience at different electricity levels. Obviously, a person's weight can greatly variate the reaction.

Less than 1mA: Barely perceptible
1 to 8 mA: strong surprise
8 to 15mA: unpleasant, victim able to detach
Greater than 15mA: muscular freeze, victim cannot let go
Greater than 75mA: usually fatal

Why aren't fish electrocuted when lightning hits the ocean?

Remember when you were a kid, and everytime there was a thunderstorm, the Lifeguards told you to get out of the pool? Well, fish are always in the water, so why aren't they electrocuted when lightning hits?

Basically, it's because electricity always takes the path of least resistance, i.e. travels through the most highly conductive substance at every point between its origin and the ground. When you're in the pool, that's you, but only because your head is almost always out of the water. You are a better conductor than the air surrounding you (also why you need to get off the high ground during a t-storm), So the electricity will travel through your body until it reaches the water, at which point it will go to the water and continue to ground. If you could stay completely underwater for the duration of the storm you'd be quite safe. The same thing applies to fish. Their bodies conduct electricity poorly compared to the saltwater surrounding them, and so the electricity travels harmlessly through the water, bypassing the fish and any other living creature.

E*lec`tro*cu"tion (?), n.   The act of killing by electricity.

"Electrocute" and its derivative words are very widely misused and misunderstood. As Webster 1913 will confirm, to electrocute is, quite unambiguously, to kill with electricity; non-fatal zaps do not count. In fact, the "-cute" portion of the word is derived from "execute". Still, it is very common to hear such phrases as "My husband electrocuted himself on the weekend" uttered insouciantly over lunch, provoking surprisingly mild reactions in the audience.

The term "electrocution" is, as jt says, a combination of the words electricity and execute. The term was coined in 1887, and was the result of a competition held by the state of New York to find a name for their new method of execution. Runners-up were "electromort" and "electricide".

Thomas Edison, who had been hired by the state of New York to develop an electrical method of execution, wanted the process to be known as "Westinghousing".

Edison had used George Westinghouse's alternating current system for his electrocution device as a PR scheme to demonstrate that Edison's direct current system was the safer of the two. Edison's patented DC system, which had the monopoly on electrification in New York City, was being challenged by Westinghouse's more efficient (in terms of delivery) AC system. Edison was quite aware of the superiority of AC and tried to play the "public safety" card, citing the danger of high voltage lines, in an effort to block its acceptance.

The first execution using the method of electrocution took place in August of 1890. It was, reportedly, horribly botched. Westinghouse himself is quoted as saying "they could have done it better with an axe."


Information stolen from Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace (a different Mike Wallace).

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