The Real-life Superhero
When you think about superheroes, names like Hulk and Batman come to mind. But you probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you that Deepak Jangra is the name of not only a superhero, but a real-life one.
Ok, it may have been a bit of an exaggeration when I said that he was a superhero, but he is quite extraordinary. Deepak Jangra, is known for his ability to withstand high electrical voltages, in fact when he touched an 11,000V wire that supplies his whole village (don’t do this), he didn’t feel anything. Not a single thing.
It all started out for Deepak in April 2012 in his small home village of Sonipat, when he was fixing his mother’s heater. While fixing it, he noticed that he was touching the exposed live wires which carried a voltage of around 200V, but bizarrely he felt nothing. Stupidly, he then moved onto touching TV wires, light bulbs, and electric woodcutter, and an electric water pump, but still nothing. Although very stupid, this was amazing as the current that those wires held would easily kill any human. The only thing that could be observed was that the circuit was broken, and the electricity stopped flowing. He then decided that it would be a good idea to climb a wooden pillar and touch the 11,000V high tension wire that powers 500 houses, but he still walked away unscathed.
Deepak describes his power as “a gift from god” and now puts it to use by helping to fix peoples electrical appliances for free, and although you wouldn’t see him anytime soon in a marvel comic book, or a film, it is still very amazing as to how his body is unharmed by the electricity. And even though scientists have done multiple checks on him, they couldn’t find anything that made him different to us, meaning that there must be something that sets him apart from everyone else, right?
Well, firstly to understand what makes him different we have to understand what electricity does to your body. An electric shock occurs when a human body gets in contact with a source of voltage that is high enough to cause current to flow. There are hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by electricity every year, so it is obviously very dangerous and lethal. (don’t try to recreate what Deepak did). And contrary to what many people think, the voltage does not affect how severe the shock is, it is the current that decides that, and it is said that only 0.1 Amps is enough to cause cardiac arrest and kill you. so even if you have a large voltage with a small current, you will probably leave unharmed, a good example of this is when a small lightning strike hits somebody, although it may have thousands of volts, it will only transfer milliamps of current.
Also dry skin has quite a high resistance, so quite a high voltage is needed to produce a current to flow in your body, so even if you have a low voltage that is carrying a high current, it is unlikely that the current will enter your body and shock you.
Electricity harms your body in a number of ways; it can produce respiratory arrest (breathing stops), Ventricular fibrillation (heart pumping action not rhythmic), nerve damage, cardiac arrest and burns. For ventricular fibrillation, the ‘danger zone’ is said to be between 0.1-0.2 amps, as anything above that current, causes the muscles in your body to clench up and freeze, essentially stopping your heart from beating, and when you stop touching the source your heart goes back to normal. To treat fibrillation, you need a defibrillator (good name right), which resets the heart beat back to normal. Burns are caused at currents higher than 3-4 Amps with severe burns occurring at 10+amps. Burns can also occur at high voltages, and generally electrical shocks damage bodily tissues.
Electricity causes burns in your body as your body has a resistance that results in heat being released when current flows through, and naturally when there is a higher current, there is more heat released (burns), with very high currents, you would be burned to a crisp within seconds e.g. if you touch a high voltage pylon which carries a lot of current.
What also depends how lethal a shock to your body is, is how long of an exposure you have to the current. For example, if it is a small current, and you accidentally touch it, you may receive no more than a shock, but if it touches you for very long without you moving it can result in more serious effects in your body. This is seen when there are accidents with power tools that are damaged, in the sense that a bare wire is touching the handle of the tool and when you touch the tool it will deliver a shock. And when it shocks you it will cause the flexor muscles in your hands to keep them clenched to the tool, allowing the current to continuously flow through you.
This will likely cause respiratory paralysis meaning that you can’t breathe, and you will end up collapsing and dying, and at the same time your hands will still be clenched to the tool, as your muscles will be clenched due to the electricity. This is one of the reasons why in a fire you are warned to move around with your palms facing towards you, so that if you touch a live wire you will not grab onto it.
Although I may have scared you into hating electricity, it has its obvious benefits. Our whole lives now depend on electricity to survive, and it also has many medical advantages, mainly in electrotherapy, where electricity is used to improve pain management, increase joint mobility, treat mental health issues, etc. etc. Also, there is some research to prove that electricity can “improve” your maths skills greatly when they have been targeted to specific regions in the brain, there is also research to show that electrical shocks to the brain can improve marksmanship, learning or even speech rehabilitation.
But back to Deepak Jangra, the only plausible way, in my opinion that he could “survive” the massive electrical shocks to his body, could be because he has a much higher resistance than everybody else, so the current would never enter his body, but this could mean that the resistance could be overcome by very high voltage, so if Deepak keeps on ‘experimenting’ with higher and higher voltages, there may come a time when Deepak does not survive the shock.
And who really cares about Deepak anyway, what can he do that a good pair of insulating gloves and shoes can’t?