APR 15, 2017 7:25 AM PDT

How Death by Electrocution Happens

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Hollywood shows a certain favor for electrocution as a dramatic plot twist to a character's life. The hair-raising, body-quaking, sparks-flying scenes seem too good for producers to pass up. But is this an accurate portrayal of electrocution in real life?

In reality, electrocution, otherwise known as death by electric shock, can happen without any of the dramatics. It takes relatively little electricity to kill a person precisely by interrupting the rhythm of the heart. In fact, scientists have quantified this to be 7 milliamps for 3 seconds. "You could quite easily kill someone with a 9-volt or AAA battery directly to the heart," said Adam Savage of Mythbusters, who has had his fair share of electric shocks.

But the reason why Adam Savage and millions of other people are still alive despite having been electrocuted is thanks to skin, clothing, and other resistance on the body. Watch the video to learn more!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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