Potential difference
Electricity and Magnetism

The explosive jacket

Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 IOP RESOURCES

The BBC website reports the story of an Australian man, Frank Clewer, who went to a job interview wearing a nylon jacket and a woollen shirt. His clothes built up a potential difference – measured by firemen to be around 40,000 V – that caused a spark which ignited a carpet in the building. The office was evacuated and a member of the fire service reported that: “There were several scorch marks in the carpet, and we could hear a cracking noise – a bit like a whip – both inside and outside the building.” The website does not record whether Mr Clewer’s interview was successful.


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