A Physicist Grumbles About Jericho: Static Electricity

I had a big long rant queued up about how Jericho used static electricity and gasoline to build tension, only they got everything all wrong when they had little MissGyver warn the main character and his friend not to unscrew the cap of the steel pesticide container full of gasoline because unscrewing that cap would cause a spark due to static electricity….

And then I realized I could sum up the problem in three very short paragraphs. Ready?

Scuff across a carpet in your socks and touch someone. The static electricity shocks them, right?

Now scuff across a carpet in your socks and touch your right hand to your left hand. No shock!

The tank is your right hand. Its cap is your left hand.

For bonus points, explain why knocking a steel cap off of the tank with a steel crowbar is bad when you’re worried about sparks. Show your work.