For years, experts have suggested that 50,000 volts of static electricity is the highest threshold that the human body can withstand, but one Chinese scientist recently proved them wrong by passing 71,000 volts through his body and living to tell the tale.
Liu Shangshe, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, in Beijing, recently took a very hands-on approach to testing the human threshold for static electricity. In a controversial experiment to determine how much static electricity the human body can withstand, the Chinese researcher passed 71,000 volts of static electricity through his own body. According to Chinese media, Shangshe’s assistants started at 20,000 volts, ramping up the voltage in stages, causing all the hair on his body to stand on end with every discharge.
Quoting an article in the PLA Daily, the South China Morning Post reports that Liu Shangshe is considered an expert on electrostatic safety, with over 50 years of scientific experience under his belt. He apparently switched his research to static safety in 1983, after learning how many people died from electric shocks every year.
Constantly in search of scientific answers, Liu has never been afraid to put his life on the line while performing research. Working with dangerous gases and other high-risk materials have left a serious mark on the scientist’s health over the years, including reducing his white blood cell count by more than half, and causing his weight to drop significantly below the average for his height.
“On the road to understanding electric static, I have never thought about giving up,” Liu Shangshe reportedly said.
Apart from testing the human threshold for static electricity, Liu’s experiment also served as a test for a device he has been developing to measure the amount of static in live tissue. This meter was primarily designed to help military personnel prevent explosions, as static on people can sometimes spark shells and other ordnance, causing fatalities.