Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Shocks from static electricity are something we all experience everywhere.

Just shuffle your rubber-soled shoes against the carpet on a dry day and you can be sure to get a spark from the next metal object you touch. Over here in Dumont d'Urville it takes very little indeed to provoke a spark of static electricity.

Every time I take my fleece jacket off, or pull on my woolly hat, I knowI'm charging myself up. Every time I put out my hand to a door handle a spark goes off. Some parts of the base are worse than others. I have not yet managed to enter the far side of the meteorological building without getting a jolt off its door. In Concordia it was even worse than it is here: I would get a spark of the door handle at the bottom of the stairs, only to get another one off the other door handle at the top.

Sparks of this kind can be quite dangerous for computers and other electronic equipment. Everyone has stories of having killed one machine or another via a particularly nasty jolt of static. So we take precautions, and usually try to discharge ourselves against a metal door or wall before touching anything sensitive. I used to find it odd to watch people knock against metal surfaces before reaching out their hand. Now I fiind myself doing the same... a shock off a knuckle is not nearly as annoying as one off the fiingers!

As the saying goes, when in Rome...

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