Avoid electric shock getting out of a car!

Avoid electric shock getting out of a car!

[MUSIC PLAYING] [MUSIC PLAYING] [ZAP] I hate that! Why do you get shocked sometimes
when you get out of your car? Or when you touch a doorknob? Or when you take off a
sweater and hug someone? And is there a way
to not get shocked? To prevent this
from happening, you have to figure out
what’s happening. So this is called a Van
de Graaff generator. I use it a lot in
science demos for kids. It’s a machine that builds
up a ton of static charge– that is, a bunch of positive
charges on the outside of this metal sphere– so
that when I bring this smaller grounded metal
sphere close to it, it discharges through
the air in a giant metal spark that will shock you. Ugh, I hate that. The kids love it. So this is where it gets fun. If I put a metal pan on top of
the Van de Graaff generator, it should take on the same
positive charge as the sphere because it’s conductive. But like charges repel. So when I turn this on,
the pan should– fly off. And it does. Now one kid saw
this and asked what would happen if we put the
Styrofoam ball she was holding on top of the generator. Let’s try it. But I told her probably
nothing would happen, because Styrofoam
is an insulator. So I assumed there’s no way
you can pass charge to it. Let’s see. I stood there confused. Insulators don’t conduct
electricity, right? So how can you charge them? Well, in fact, it’s very easy. This balloon– is now charged. See? And this tape is now charged. See? And these are both insulators–
just not perfect insulators. In very violent
events, electrons from the atoms in one material
can get stripped off and passed to another material, causing
both materials to become charged– this one positively,
because it lost electrons, and this one negatively,
because it gained electrons. Even if they’re
usually insulators. And for the poor tiny atoms in
these materials, rubbing them together would
definitely be considered an unsettling violent event. Now back to the car. The violent event here is
when you get out of the car, you slide across the seat,
and both you and the seat become charged. And now some of that charge will
leave your body into the air. But if the air is cold
enough and dry enough, and you touch the
metal soon enough, that charge will quickly leave
your body into the metal, and you will feel that. And you’ll hear it,
too, as a shock. [ZAP] So do you prevent
this from happening? Well, don’t keep
yourself isolated. As you get out of the
car, touch the metal on the side of the car. And even if charge is
building up on you, it’ll continually
flow into the metal. And it won’t build up
enough on you to shock you. Problem solved. Either that, or rub yourself
all over with dryer sheets. I don’t know if that works. Someone please try
it and let me know. So now for this insulator,
there was no violent event. Or was there? [CONTINUAL ZAPPING] See, air is usually
an insulator, too. Which is why you’re not
shocked by your outlet until you stick metal in it. Air is an insulator
until the voltage, which is related to the amount
of surface charge on here, gets so high that electricity
can travel through the air. Electrons are stripped
off of the air molecules along the way in
a process called ionization, which releases
light, and you see a spark. But you have to get the
voltage really high for this to happen, so high
that overcomes the insulating
properties of air. So high that it overcomes
the insulating properties of Styrofoam, and the Styrofoam
takes on a surface charge that repels the metal sphere. Large enough for the insulating
plastic on this pom-pom to repel itself, so that they
stick up– at least on the top. On the bottom,
there is more going on where the pom-pom
sticks to the sphere, and it has to do with
electrical induction. But we’ll leave that
for another video. Thank you so much for watching. I’m going to see if I can get
my hair to stand up, if there’s not too much moisture. Although it rained today,
and it’s pretty warm. Nothing’s happening. It’s too humid, and this
thing’s not big enough. It’s gonna shock me. Ah! [CONTINUAL ZAPPING] It didn’t! [MUSIC PLAYING]

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Thaaaank you very much …
    I have had that problem for a long time and i didn't know why …till now👍👍

  2. Actually insulators don't exist at all, it's not even a real term, high enough voltage can travel through anything it's just that insulation is designed for a specific purpose and raiting

  3. getting out of the car and electric shock at the same damn time not safe
    texting and driving or drunk driving f(bleep)ing tsk tsk!

  4. Why don't I see a camera shadow in the Van De Graph Generator? What sort of Optical sorcery is that?

  5. 2:24 how the f* are you going out of the car? I never got an electric shock of a car or even touch my paint/metal. And why youtube suggested that to me after listen to music… xD

  6. Its my shoes. I used these danky old Nike running shoes for delivery driving and i got shocked every time. I use different shoes no shock

  7. I got home from school and I allways avoid touching the side of the car and I’m so scared of getting shocked it hurts so badly I cryed once I’m a little scared to try this but I’ll give it ago

  8. Well the greatest Nikola Tesla wanted to innovate how to control this ionization and to have wireless currency, but no one wanted to finance his project..

  9. Hey, Physics lady, thanks for the an excellent vid. Will try it on my Hyundai Hybrid, you might say it's an electrifying vehicle. Shalom, TED

  10. Thank you so much! I'm so tired of getting shocked after I get out of my semi to open the trailer doors! lol. Now I will try this technique tomorrow and see if it works.

  11. First of all there is no such thing as "A TON OF STATIC CHARGE" If you are an educator that's a phrase you should stop using!

  12. Does elevation from sea level have anything to do with static electricity? Does people at sea level have less problems with this problem? Has there been more reports of people at higher elevation having static electricity issues?

  13. Let me tell u what in the winter months I pack some voltage an its gotten to the point for me I believe i may have built a timid but mild ptsd when it comes to closing the door in the winter time even tho it's not a terrible shock I don't like it I've been hit with a police taser, recepticals, an even an electric fence an all of which aren't painful its just a unsettling feeling ,having your bones jumped with electricity. although after its all said an done it can be quite" energizing "no pun intended.

  14. I always get static shock on my bed, every time I wake up. And it annoys me alot. So, I decided to pin the sheets/bed. I am not sure if it is effective. I'll wait tomorrow.

  15. thanks, now ima get a wire ang continually attached it to my body to any metal of my car while im driving lol

  16. That works..thanks for the info.was getting jolted from past 2 days I couldn't understand why..was pulling my hair out.n finally found the answer all thanks to u..

  17. Mine is getting really bad my son is scared to touch me because last time he touched me by accident he felt it and tried it to make sure and he screamed and said daddy you are not human I saw a spark you shocked me and I laughed so hard but in the back of my mind I was worried and that was a year ago and it got worsened now!

  18. If you hold any metal and touch the metal to the car or other, you won't feel anything. When I get out of my car I just touch my key to the car. No shock.

  19. You have helped me enough I was thinking that maybe I got sick because every time when I get out of a car or when I want to touch something I was feeling shock I was even planning to find Doctor to ask about that issue but your video helped me enough I can't thank you enough

  20. https://youtu.be/9ExotfaRWg8

    Please report the video on the above link. Someone posted PhysicsGirl's same exact video as their own.

  21. To me, I also get shocked when I touch animals, doors and people. I need to start carrying a metal around

  22. I pull the bottom of my sleeve up to my palms then close the door with my sleeve! WORKS EVERY TIME!. I haven't tried this idea yet but I will and get back to you

  23. An ignorant hick might look at things like this and say "Small things amuse small minds."
    The scientifically minded, however, know that there's always more going on than appearances might indicate.
    I love how these videos take something seemingly simple and dissect it to expose the intricate minutia going on beneath the metaphoric surface.

  24. I find it's certain clothes I wear that make it worse, I try to put my elbow on the outside of door when exiting the vehicle helps.

  25. Thanks alot for your solution!!
    I was not aware of the reasons behind this problem rather other things comes to my mind like my body is releasing current these days🙂 like electric man!!
    Some times it seems funny to me.
    I was wondering really, so I decided to find what's the problem and solutions.
    You know I started to shut my car door with my keyring rubber and it worked!
    But in hurry I had to feel shock!

    Could you tell me please leather cover on seats can avoid body getting charged while driving ?

    Really thanks a lot

  26. Another easy way, before yiu tich the car take off one of your shoes and tuch the ground with your bare foot, problem solved.

  27. Really happen to me that everytime I'm confused myself what happened me I feel I have something absence or what?

  28. i get that with the car but i also get it when i touch my arm on someone else's arm. i guess i might have a big negative charge on my arms. maybe for moving slaves up or something

  29. i didn't know before although I often felt that electrical shock, but now i know very clear. Many thank to you!

  30. I work at Jeep driving cars off the line. I get shocked every time so finally bought static dissipative shoes to avoid going crazy. I’m going to try this next winter to see if I can wear shoes I actually like again!

  31. hmm…interesting …the moment dianna said electricity can travel through air… it reminded me of tesla tower…. is this what nikola tesla was trying to do….. make electricity available like wifi…..i love conspiracy theories 😀

  32. Getting shocked on touching Car Door is easy but acting normal the moment you get shocked in public is the problem

  33. I've never gotten shocked by palming the panel between the doors of my car. I have been on the back of my left leg, from standing up. I'm using the technique from here on out.

  34. Did we get shock after lying a long time in an iron bed and suddenly wake up and touching the iron bars of that bed barefooted

  35. rubbing a dryer sheet on the car seat does help. I just put my left calf against the car when getting out. Winter gloves insulate against electricity as well as the cold.

  36. This is not the answer I'm looking for… My car shocks me even while I'm touching the body.
    But it was nice to watch…

  37. That's one of the wonders of life. Why would you want to stop the shock? It's not that bad. An episode on how to make even bigger, yet harmless shocks/arcs would be cool.

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