Electricity & Natural Gas FAQ
Have you ever wondered why shoes hanging on a power line don’t get fried? Or why natural gas flames are blue? Now you can get answers to these and all your energy-related questions.
I once saw a pair of shoes hanging from a power line. Why didn’t the shoes get burned up by the electricity in the line?
Shoes hanging on a power line don’t get burned for the same reason that birds standing on a power line don’t get shocked: they don’t give electricity a path to the ground, so electricity stays in the line and does not go through them. But if the shoes were to touch a power line and a power pole at the same time, they would provide a path to the ground and would get blasted with electric current. It wouldn’t be pretty!
By the way, if you ever see someone throwing shoes up onto a line, tell them to stop! The shoes can damage the power line, or someone trying to get the shoes down could be seriously shocked or even killed.
The ancient Chinese were the first to discover underground deposits of natural gas. In 600 BC, Confucius wrote of wells 100 feet deep yielding water and natural gas along the Tibetan border. The Chinese piped the gas to where it was needed through long, hollow bamboo stalks.
Why didn’t Ben Franklin get electrocuted when he tied a metal key to a kite string and flew the kite in a thunderstorm?
Ben Franklin probably did not do his famous kite experiment the way it is usually portrayed. (Franklin never wrote about it himself, and the only description we have of it was written by another scholar, Joseph Priestley, 15 years later.) Franklin believed lightning was a flow of electricity taking place in nature. He knew of electricity’s dangers, and would probably not have risked being struck by lightning by flying his kite during a storm. It is more likely that Franklin flew his kite before the storm occurred, and that his famous key gave off an electric spark by drawing small electrical charges from the air.