You and your TV have probably build up
static electricity. Static" electricity
(more correctly called "net electric charge" )
appears whenever the normal quantities of
positive and negative electricity in a substance
are not perfectly equal.
Remember that everything is made of
atoms, and atoms in turn are made of
positive and negative electric charges. In other
words, your body is just a collection of
positive and negative electrical particles.
Normally the positives cancel out the negatives,
and everything behaves electrically "neutral." No
mysterious sparking. But if you ever end up with
more negative than positive, or with more positive
than negative, then you have a charge-imbalance
on your body. You will get zapped the next
time you touch a large metal object.
Exactly how can this imbalance occur?
Whenever we walk, the soles of our shoes steal
some negative charge from the floor. We leave
behind electrified positive footprints, and our
bodies acquire an overall imbalance of negatives.
(Or sometimes vice versa with the negative and
positive, since polarity is determined by the type
of shoe soles and the type of rug.) After many
footsteps, our bodies attain a high level of
electric charge and a high voltage. Body-voltage
can easily rise to several thousand volts, and the
next time you touch someone else... ZAP! The
imbalanced charge gets shared between you and your
TV for example. The spark is painful because
it's extremely hot. It drills into your skin
like a white-hot needle, creating a microscopic
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