Wednesday, June 09, 2010
[a shocking experience]
The first man made machine to produce a powerful electrical current was the Siemens and Wheatstone dynamo, invented in 1867. This was a major breakthrough for modern technology.
Interestingly, however, for millennia prior to this, there lived in the Brazilian rivers an amazing fish capable of doing basically the same thing - the electric eel.
Their bodies contain electric organs with about 6,000 specialized cells called electrocytes that store power like tiny batteries. When threatened or attacking prey, these cells will discharge simultaneously, emitting a burst of at least 600 volts, five times the power of a standard U.S. wall socket.
They live in the murky streams and ponds of the Amazon and Orinoco basins of South America, feeding mainly on fish, but also amphibians and even birds and small mammals. As air-breathers, they must come to the surface frequently. They also have poor eyesight, but can emit a low-level charge, less than 10 volts, which they use like radar to navigate and locate prey.
Electric eels can reach huge proportions, exceeding 8 feet (2.5 meters) in length and 44 pounds (20 kilograms) in weight. They have long, cylindrical bodies and flattened heads and are generally dark green or grayish on top with yellowish coloring underneath.
Human deaths from electric eels are extremely rare. However, multiple shocks can cause respiratory or heart failure, and people have been known to drown in shallow water after a stunning jolt.
Electrical engineers are still trying to learn from the design of the electric eel. Researchers at Yale University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are trying to build artificial versions of the eel's electricity generating cells as a power source for medical implants and other tiny devices.
The diversity and wisdom in God's creations is endless. "How manifold are Thy works, O LORD! In wisdom hast Thou made them all; the earth is full of Thy creatures." Psalms 104:24
Posted by jewish philosopher at 4:31 AM