When Thomas Edison wasn’t running around stealing inventions that weren’t his own, he publicly electrocuted defenseless animals. He was trying to make Nikola Tesla‘s Alternating Current (AC) look somehow more dangerous than his own Direct Current (DC). He would normally electrocute stray dogs and cats, but one time he got to fry an elephant.
Boing Boing has a link to a YouTube video of Edison’s elephant electrocution. I’m not into animal cruelty, so I’m not posting a link to the video.
Thomas Edison was a dick
Not only was Thomas Edison a major dick, but he was also wrong. AC voltage is no more dangerous than DC. It’s current that’s deadly, not voltage. High voltage normally means high current. It doesn’t matter what version of voltage it is.
When I worked as an electronics technician, the worst I’ve ever been shocked was not with AC, but good old DC. I once accidentally brushed up against high-current 28 volts, and it felt like I was hit with a baseball bat wielded by a minor deity. I’ve been shocked with AC voltage as high as 460 volts, and it didn’t hurt nearly as bad. Current kills, not voltage.
Most people associate DC voltage as being safer than AC voltage because most of the DC they are familiar with is the low voltage, low current variety. For instance, the voltage found on a computer’s USB bus. It’s normally at around 5 volts with around 500 mA in current. Wall socket AC voltage, on the other hand, is around 120 volts with around 10 to 20 amps on each circuit.
Thomas Edison didn’t understand that. I’m sure if he bothered to ask Nikola Tesla, he would have been happy to explain it to him. Edison didn’t bother to do that. He was too busy being a dick.