Birds on Power Lines
Why don't birds get shocked when they sit on telephone
wires? I don't understand electrical current and the way it works.
When a bird sits on a single wire there is no ground to complete a circuit,
so the bird does not get shocked.
They don't get shocked for the same reason you don't get shocked when
you touch a lamp cord: because the wires are insulated with a material
that doesn't conduct electricity.
The difference in electric potential between the bird's two fee is so small
that very little, if any, current is able to flow.
To use a water example, the pressure of the water increases with depth.
You may have noticed that at the bottom of the pool you feel more pressure
than at the top. But the difference in pressure over, say, a millimeter is
so small, that it would not pose any problem as compared to a depth
difference of 200 meters. Similarly, there is such a small difference in
the potential between the bird's feet, that it is insignificant.
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Update: June 2012