Many local USA TV stations’ 5/6’o’clock news shows just reported a statistically unlikely incident involving an iPod, a jogger, and a bolt of lightning. This story was originally reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.Â
In an almost Twilight-Zone like episode, a man jogging in a thunderstorm in Vancouver, BC was struck indirectly by a bolt of lightning that bounced off a nearby tree.
This type of indirect lightning exposure, called a “side flash,” would typically ‘flash over’ the skin of the entire body…but in this case, the iPod and headphones the man was wearing acted as a conductor.
The electricity travelled up the headset wires and into the man’s ears, leaving a burn path of first and second degree burns all the way up his chest, rupturing his eardrums and rendering him with a 50% hearing loss (after recovery!) and causing his facial muscles to contract so hard from the shock that his jawbone was broken.Â
Thusly, the iPhone would get about 15% less battery life and would be very warm to the touch if run at the full 667/133MHz, according to Rumors’ sources at the top of the iPhone Division food-chain in Cupertino.
However, there may be a compromise that would reduce slow-downs and hesitation when heavily multitasking — for example, working with several Safari instances while also listening to music and executing background tasks like downloading email, etc — without taking too much battery life or making the iPhone too hot to handle.
The man was listening to religious music on his iPod at the time.
While some might compare the incident with a Biblical smiting, the man dismisses that notion and will continue to jog — maybe just not in lightning storms while wearing his iPod.
Although this type of indirect exposure to high-intensity static electricity in the form of lightning is quite rare, it is still wise to take precautions during electric storms…..and if you must be outside in one, it would be wise to keep your iPod as separate from your body (e.g. ear buds removed and the whole device stored in a pocket, powered down) as possible.
Better safe than sorry!