Basic principal for electroplay

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Basic Principles of Electricity

Electricity is defined as the flow of electrons and the difference in potential (total electrical charge) when they leap. Electrons being a part of what makes up an atom, they are capable (at times) of moving from one atom to the next or of simply bouncing back and forth between the atoms. Although they do not actually go from one to the next (as with water flowing), the motion does set off a cascade effect. Moving electrons from one atom to the next down a sort of ‘daisy chain’ or 'chain reaction' action (compare it to dominos collapsing). When a continuous and repeated movement occurs, the electrons are said to be flowing.

Although we are mostly familiar with the terms that are used to describe electricity, often we do not have the basic knowledge about what these things mean, where they come from and what they entail. Here are a few of the words we use and what they actually mean.

Electricity and the things that influence it can be measured in several ways:

1. Resistance (also shown in an equation as “R”, called Ohms, and shown by the scientific symbol (): Just like the name implies, resistance is the amount of fight or effort it takes to make the electrons flow through some substance (copper, water, the human body, etc.). This principle was first reviewed by a man named Georg Simon Ohm in 1867, and therefore bears his name. When we measure resistance, we say that it has “’so many’ Ohms” resistance (to the flow of current in a circuit).

2. Current (shown in an equation as “I”, also called Amperes, and referred to by the scientific symbol “A”): Current is a measure of the electrons that are moving (“flowing”) at any one time. In some instances we can call this the path or method of conduction. This path is called the ‘conductor’ and may be a wire, a pipe, or the human body. A man named André-Marie Ampère in 1881 first applied the principle of current flow.

3. Voltage (shown in electrical equations as the letter “V” or the scientific symbol “E”) is the difference in ‘potential’ between two electrons or two points in the path of the electrons movement. When an electron moves from one atom to another, it leaves behind a ‘gap’ or charge because of the way the particle moves away. The electron (and, here we go recalling our school days) is considered to be of a ‘negative’ charge. When it leaves the atom, it makes it ‘more positive’. Due to the shifting electrons, there is a ‘loss’ of charge at every hole left in the entire path along the way. If someone measures (using a ‘voltmeter’) between the beginning and the end of the wire (path for the current movement) they can detect this difference in “potential”. So, from the beginning of the motion to the end of the place the electricity is “going”, there is a measurable ‘voltage’ (difference in potential from one point to another). This difference in potential aids in the flow of electrons by dragging some particles (electrons) along the way, and, shoving/pushing others as it goes.

4. Frequency (measured in Hertz and shown as “Hz” in formulaic expression) is defined as the amount of time a current ‘pulsates’. In measuring electricity, some kinds of voltages will alternate between high and low measurements due to the unique nature of it. This is called alternating current. At some point in the past, a null (or zero point) was set in the measurement of the frequency of electricity. When alternating current is produced, the voltage (the potential) measured will pass though that ‘null’ many times. The amount of times it does that in a given second is called the frequency. So, knowing this, we can understand what they mean when they talk about 60Hz. (or 60 cycles per second) voltage in our houses. This type of electricity passes through this zero point sixty times per second for every second that the potential (the voltage) exists in a circuit.

These are the basic building blocks that will allow us to talk candidly about the issue of electricity in BDSM play. I would recommend that you understand them before we proceed, as they will continue to creep up on us when we least expect it throughout our discussion about how the play interacts with our body and how the toys actually work.

Electricity is dangerous because of its disruptive effect on the life support organs of the human body. We characterize electricity by two quantities: voltage and current. Voltage is measured in units called volts and current is measured in units of amps. The primary factors determining the effect of electricity on the body are the amount and path of the current passing through the body.

Currents of less than 0.02 amp may produce sensations ranging from tingling to sharp pain. A more serious effect occurs if the current causes muscles to contract. A person touching a live wire with their outstretched hand may literally not be able to let go of the wire due to the current's effect on the muscles. Experienced electricians who must sometimes deal with wires which may be live always use the backs of their hands to move the wires; if a current were present, the contacting muscles would cause the hand to pull away from the wire. Currents from 0.03 to 0.07 amp will begin to impair the ability of the person to breathe.

The most dangerous range of currents is from 0.1 to about 0.2 amp. Currents in this range can cause death by initiating fibrillation (uncontrollable twitching) of the heart, which stops the regular flow of blood to the rest of the body. Currents much larger than 0.1 amp do NOT result in fibrillation and instead stop the heart completely. If the duration of the current is short, the heart will usually start to beat by itself after the current is removed.

The amount of current which passes through a body depends on the ratio of the voltage of the electricity to the resistance of your body. The smaller the resistance (or the larger the voltage), the more current passes through the body. As examples, an AA battery provides voltage of 1.5 volts, a car battery 12 volts and an electrical outlet 110 volts. The resistance (which is measured in ohms) of the human body can range from one hundred to one million ohms. Wet skin has a much lower resistance to current than dry skin. This is why electrical appliances warn against use while in the shower or bath; although the voltage of the appliance may not be sufficient to send large currents through a dry body, the same voltage may result in a very dangerous current in a wet body. If the resistance of a body is as low as 100 ohms, a voltage as small as 20 volts can lead to fatal currents.

The path of current through a body also determines the magnitude of the effect. Current entering a body wants to travel a path of least resistance and exit through the part of the body touching the ground. Because the heart is on the left side of the body, touching a live wire with your left hand means that the shortest path to the ground involves passing through your heart. If current travels through the right side of the body, the current is less likely to affect the heart.

Although electricity has simplified many aspects of our lives, care must be taken when using electrical appliances. According to the Lansing Safety Council, 714 people in the US - 24 of those in Michigan- were killed by accidents in the home involving electricity. Because the potential for damage depends on the size, path and duration of the current and the resistance of the body, all electricity should be treated with respect and care.