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Personal Lightning Rod

Strap metal to your body to ground out lightning strikes
 
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Certain emergency workers don't have the luxury of getting out of storms. Proposed is a personal lightning rod consisting of grounded boot plates, a metal helmet, and wiring in between.
kevinthenerd, Jun 14 2012

personal_20lightning_20rod_20suit [marked-for-deletion] Redundant [hippo, Jun 14 2012]

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       It amuses me that this posting is currently (no pun intended) next to [UnaBubba's] posting about artificial 3rd arms. Perhaps the 2 ideas should be combined.
AusCan531, Jun 14 2012
  

       There's a matter of resistance to deal with here; most lightning rods, let alone those light enough to wear, are not sufficient to conduct _all_ of the tremendous current that is unloaded by a lightning strike. What they do is guide it in a relatively harmless manner to the ground. Because of the resistance built up in the rod and ground cable, much of the current follows that path by arcing through the air near the conductor, 'jumping' into and out of the cable as the current fluctuates, and arcing across to any nearby conductors that off less resistance--and, with a 30,000-amp arc delivering a terawatt of juice at 140,000 mph in 1/30,000,000 of a second, nearly anything is a potential conductor--bringing the lightning safely to ground without damaging anything.   

       A human body is a very good conductor. A human wearing a lightning rod will be a very convenient secondary path for that arc. Food for thought.
Alterother, Jun 15 2012
  

       //with a 30,000-amp arc delivering a terawatt of juice//   

       Actually, a lightning bolt contains 1.21 jiggawatts of power.
ytk, Jun 15 2012
  

       My mistake. Somewhere, I read 'up to' a terawatt, obviously an erronious figure. It's still a helluva jolt, any way you slice it.   

       I didn't bother to cite a reference for the above description of a lightning rod's function because I've personally witnessed it multiple times while working for the railroad. Railyards understandably attract a lot of strikes, so most of the buildings have fairly beefy lightning rods. Standard car shop protocol during a lightning storm was for everyone to stop work and gather in an open area of the shop as far as possible from any metal, so we would often open up the big doors and watch the rods on the buildings opposite. When we were 'lucky' enough to witness a strike, the after-images seared into our retinas clearly showed that the arc had twisted and forked on its way down the ground-wire, leaping out to touch the sides of the building, nearby materials or equipment, or the tarmac around the ground anchor.   

       Having seen something like that is proof enough for me. Anyone who doubts my veracity is welcome to *conduct* their own research.
Alterother, Jun 15 2012
  

       Most people who get "struck by lightning" are shocked indirectly via the ground or a nearby object. Having a metal pole above you might be worse becasue it would attract more lighning. Also you would need some killer insulation on the wiring going from the rod to your feet to keep it from exploding on you. Even a mild ~300 amps was enough to cause some insulated wiring in my trunk to spontaneously combust.
DIYMatt, Jun 16 2012
  

       My point exactly. I've burned up 600a couplers while running flux-core flat out on a rail car conversion. When I say 'burned up', I mean they exploded in flames because of the built-up resistance. The cable could handle it, but the couplings couldn't. All that current has got to go somewhere.
Alterother, Jun 16 2012
  
      
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