An electrical engineering question

8 views
Skip to first unread message

Olga DeMonnin

unread,
May 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/1/99
to
I have been reading a little book on electronics. There was a discussion of
capacitors through the ages and mention was made that the famous Ark of the
Covenant qualified as one. (two conductors separated by an insulating
material) It also mentioned that capacitors can hold a charge for a long
time. And when discharged, even small capacitors would pack a huge charge
that could kill a person

So my question... How much of a charge could the Ark hold? How long could
it hold it? How would it be charged? how to prevent inadvertent
discharges? Finally, what would happen to the poor sod who, say
forinstance, touched it with his sword?


--
Steven D
So now we have two important things to remember. In Static Electricity,
things with the same kind of charge ("like charges") will repel each other,
while things with opposite charges (a positive and a negative) will attract
each other. And when electricity, whatever it is, moves, it always moves
from negative things toward positive things.


It would be a good rule for all of us to follow in our lives

Christopher Eling

unread,
May 1, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/1/99
to
Olga DeMonnin wrote:

> I have been reading a little book on electronics. There was a discussion of
> capacitors through the ages and mention was made that the famous Ark of the
> Covenant qualified as one. (two conductors separated by an insulating
> material) It also mentioned that capacitors can hold a charge for a long
> time. And when discharged, even small capacitors would pack a huge charge
> that could kill a person
>
> So my question... How much of a charge could the Ark hold? How long could
> it hold it? How would it be charged? how to prevent inadvertent
> discharges? Finally, what would happen to the poor sod who, say
> forinstance, touched it with his sword?
>
>

I saw a show on TV a couple of weeks ago with some archeologist claiming
that the ark had the ability to store electrical energy. He also claimed that
the Templars had control of the ark and that there really were five arks in
existence.
I'm a physics major and we have studied capacitors a lot during the
semester. The amount of charge the Ark could hold would depend on its shape. The
important relation is Q (charge) = C (capacitance)*V (voltage). The capacitance
depends only on the shape of the capacitor. For example, the capacitance of two
parallel, oppositely charged plates would be equal to the Area of the plates
divided by their separation distance. A good dielectric also helps to increase
the capacitance. You charge a capacitor by placing a potential difference across
it (battery). Assuming there is a good insulator to protect the capacitor from
discharge, the charge could be held for a long time. Thus, proper insulation is
the best way to prevent discharge. My professor, who likes to tell us shock
stories, told us a about how a previous lecturer had forgotten to discharge a
cap. he had used in a demonstration. When he touched the undischarged,
unprotected capacitor, he said he nearly jumped across the lab bench, such was
the severity of the shock.

Chris Eling


Doug Weller

unread,
May 2, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/2/99
to
In article <DvMW2.66659$A6.32...@news1.teleport.com>, on Sat, 1 May 1999
16:54:14 -0700, ol...@teleport.com said...

>
> I have been reading a little book on electronics. There was a discussion of
> capacitors through the ages and mention was made that the famous Ark of the
> Covenant qualified as one. (two conductors separated by an insulating
> material) It also mentioned that capacitors can hold a charge for a long
> time. And when discharged, even small capacitors would pack a huge charge
> that could kill a person
>
Essentially the ark was a wooden box covered inside and out with gold. Somehow
I doubt that the top of the edges were left bare, so I'd assume that all the
gold was in contact, and thus of course there is no possibility it could have
acted as a capacitor.
Even if for some ridiculous reason bare wood was left, I'm not at all
convinced it could act as a capacitor (let alone the other problems). Does it
really fulfill all the qualifications?

Doug
--
Doug Weller Moderator, sci.archaeology.moderated
Submissions to: sci-archaeol...@medieval.org
Doug's Archaeology Site: http://www.ramtops.demon.co.uk
Co-owner UK-Schools mailing list: email me for details

D.H. Kelly

unread,
May 2, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/2/99
to
>Even if for some ridiculous reason bare wood was left, I'm not at all
>convinced it could act as a capacitor (let alone the other problems).
>Does it
>really fulfill all the qualifications?
---------
In a dry climate- possibly. However, in order for it to have any more than a
few picofarads the wood would have to be verrry thin - making it useless as
a container and limited as to maximum potential. Nice urban? legend- Raiders
of the lost ark ?

--
Don Kelly
dke...@nanaimo.ark.combull
remove the bull to reply


brad caffee

unread,
May 2, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/2/99
to
Is there any historical evidence for the Arc carrying a charge?
Batteries did exist in theancient world but they were used primarily for
gold plating objects - not to generate electrical booby traps. Or is
there writen evidence to the contrary?


Alex Green

unread,
May 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/3/99
to
Doug Weller wrote in message ...

>In article <DvMW2.66659$A6.32...@news1.teleport.com>, on Sat, 1 May 1999
>16:54:14 -0700, ol...@teleport.com said...
>>
>> I have been reading a little book on electronics. There was a discussion
of
>> capacitors through the ages and mention was made that the famous Ark of
the
>> Covenant qualified as one. (two conductors separated by an insulating
>> material) It also mentioned that capacitors can hold a charge for a long
>> time. And when discharged, even small capacitors would pack a huge
charge
>> that could kill a person
>>
>Essentially the ark was a wooden box covered inside and out with gold.
Somehow
>I doubt that the top of the edges were left bare, so I'd assume that all
the
>gold was in contact, and thus of course there is no possibility it could
have
>acted as a capacitor.
>Even if for some ridiculous reason bare wood was left, I'm not at all
>convinced it could act as a capacitor (let alone the other problems). Does
it
>really fulfill all the qualifications?


Try considering it as a (very long) microwave cavity resonator. The poles
could then be considered as aerials with the corner mounting rings used as a
method of impedance mis-matching. If the impedance mis-matching works then
it will radiate slightly less energy than it receives from a variety of
natural sources. The resulting slow build up of energy would account for
the corona discharge reported between the cherubim and the fatalities caused
by touching it in the wrong place.


Sincerely,

Alex Green

Ars artis est celare artem


Doug Weller

unread,
May 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/3/99
to
In article <910-372D...@newsd-612.iap.bryant.webtv.net>, on Sun, 2 May
1999 23:39:52 -0400 (EDT), Timo...@webtv.net said...

Nope. And the 'batteries' may not have been batteries, they could have been
containers for curses written on papyrus (a couple of them have papyrus in
them).

Alex Green

unread,
May 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/3/99
to
Doug Weller wrote in message ...
>In article <910-372D...@newsd-612.iap.bryant.webtv.net>, on Sun, 2 May
>1999 23:39:52 -0400 (EDT), Timo...@webtv.net said...
>> Is there any historical evidence for the Arc carrying a charge?
>> Batteries did exist in theancient world but they were used primarily for
>> gold plating objects - not to generate electrical booby traps. Or is
>> there writen evidence to the contrary?
>
>Nope. And the 'batteries' may not have been batteries, they could have been
>containers for curses written on papyrus (a couple of them have papyrus in
>them).


A corona discharge is reported between the cherubim. See, for example, Ps
80 v 1.

Peter F. Curran

unread,
May 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/3/99
to
In article <MPG.11966d063...@news.demon.co.uk>,

dwe...@ramtops.demon.co.uk (Doug Weller) writes:
>In article <DvMW2.66659$A6.32...@news1.teleport.com>, on Sat, 1 May 1999
>16:54:14 -0700, ol...@teleport.com said...
>>
>> I have been reading a little book on electronics. There was a discussion of
>> capacitors through the ages and mention was made that the famous Ark of the
>> Covenant qualified as one. (two conductors separated by an insulating
>> material) It also mentioned that capacitors can hold a charge for a long
>> time. And when discharged, even small capacitors would pack a huge charge
>> that could kill a person
>>
>Essentially the ark was a wooden box covered inside and out with gold. Somehow
>I doubt that the top of the edges were left bare, so I'd assume that all the
>gold was in contact, and thus of course there is no possibility it could have
>acted as a capacitor.
>Even if for some ridiculous reason bare wood was left, I'm not at all
>convinced it could act as a capacitor (let alone the other problems). Does it
>really fulfill all the qualifications?

Virtually _anything_ can serve as a capacitor. Capacitance is
an electrical property of any physical system with two points
at different electrical potentials. The capacitance is the
ratio of coulombs of charge transferred per volt of potential,
C=q/V. A simple insulated metal object has a capacitance with
respect to the ground. An object doesn't even need to be metal!
You are a "capacitor" when you scuff your feet on the carpet and
acquire a charge. "Good" capacitors, things designed to operate
as such, have a high C ratio so they can hold a large charge with
a small voltage. A high voltage tends to induce conduction even
through normally non-conductive things like plastic and air, so
a capacitor with a high voltage doesn't tend to STAY charged that
high for long periods of time.

The ark as I've heard it described may or not have had a physical
structure equivalent to a parallel plate capacitor. Even if it
did, the chances of it being charged to the extent it could kill
seems very remote. The capacitance would be small, and thus the
voltage needed to have a significant charge would be very large
and would tend to "bleed off" through the wood or even the air.
It would be just as likely IMO for you to accidently kill yourself
using an accidentally lethal electrical configuration of aluminum
foil and saran-wrap in the kitchen! Since we don't hear of that
happening, I'd feel pretty safe (electrically) handling said Ark.


--
Peter F Curran
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


dough knot male: nos...@pascal.stu.rpi.edu
Use address in Organization line, finger
for PGP key. Antispaam test in progress.


Ralph Jones

unread,
May 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/3/99
to
Doug Weller wrote:

> [snip]

> Essentially the ark was a wooden box covered inside and out with gold. Somehow
> I doubt that the top of the edges were left bare, so I'd assume that all the
> gold was in contact, and thus of course there is no possibility it could have
> acted as a capacitor.
> Even if for some ridiculous reason bare wood was left, I'm not at all
> convinced it could act as a capacitor (let alone the other problems). Does it
> really fulfill all the qualifications?

This is essentially a Leyden jar, the first practical capacitor. Yes, it would
work, although the performance would depend heavily on the moisture content of the
wood. Glass is much better.

It is actually possible to deliver a lethal charge with a well-designed Leyden
jar. One made from a glass casserole pot can knock you on your ass.

rj


terry...@my-dejanews.com

unread,
May 3, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/3/99
to
In article <DvMW2.66659$A6.32...@news1.teleport.com>,

"Olga DeMonnin" <ol...@teleport.com> wrote:
> I have been reading a little book on electronics. There was a discussion of
> capacitors through the ages and mention was made that the famous Ark of the
> Covenant qualified as one. (two conductors separated by an insulating
> material) It also mentioned that capacitors can hold a charge for a long
> time. And when discharged, even small capacitors would pack a huge charge
> that could kill a person
>
> So my question... How much of a charge could the Ark hold? How long could
> it hold it? How would it be charged? how to prevent inadvertent
> discharges? Finally, what would happen to the poor sod who, say
> forinstance, touched it with his sword?
>
> --Olga, would you mind if I had some of my computer class students respond
tastefully to your message? I am teaching a class that involves use of
newsgroups. Your message inspired an interesting discussion. They will post
short replies if you agree, otherwise I will NOT use your message. I promise.
Thanks. Terry

> Steven D
> So now we have two important things to remember. In Static Electricity,
> things with the same kind of charge ("like charges") will repel each other,
> while things with opposite charges (a positive and a negative) will attract
> each other. And when electricity, whatever it is, moves, it always moves
> from negative things toward positive things.
>
> It would be a good rule for all of us to follow in our lives
>
>


-----------== Posted via Deja News, The Discussion Network ==----------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Discuss, or Start Your Own

Andrew Case

unread,
May 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/4/99
to
In article <372DC24C...@sni.net>, Ralph Jones <rnj...@sni.net> wrote:
>
>This is essentially a Leyden jar, the first practical capacitor. Yes, it would
>work, although the performance would depend heavily on the moisture content of the
>wood. Glass is much better.

IIRC, (and I may well not) the wood shouldn't figure into it at all.
The glass in a Leyden jar is just there for the convenience of the
experimenter. The principle (as I recall it) is that the charge on
a conductor resides on the outside. If you make a container out of
some conductive material you can transfer charge to it by adding
charge on the inside (where it promptly flows to the outside). This
process can be continued until the potential of the outside of the
vessel is so high relative to nearby objects that you get breakdown
of the air. Put that Ark on a nice big stone altar and you should be
able to get a fairly hefty charge on it, as long as you don't have
sharp points.

This doesn't require a fully closed shape, either - it can be, well,
jar-shaped, and still work just fine.

......Andrew

--
Andrew Case |
ac...@plasma.umd.edu |
Institute for Plasma Research |
University of Maryland, College Park |

Alex Green

unread,
May 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/4/99
to
Andrew Case wrote in message <7gnj17$3...@mrpibb.eng.umd.edu>...

>In article <372DC24C...@sni.net>, Ralph Jones <rnj...@sni.net>
wrote:
>>
>>This is essentially a Leyden jar, the first practical capacitor. Yes, it
would
>>work, although the performance would depend heavily on the moisture
content of the
>>wood. Glass is much better.
>
>IIRC, (and I may well not) the wood shouldn't figure into it at all.
>The glass in a Leyden jar is just there for the convenience of the
>experimenter. The principle (as I recall it) is that the charge on
>a conductor resides on the outside. If you make a container out of
>some conductive material you can transfer charge to it by adding
>charge on the inside (where it promptly flows to the outside). This
>process can be continued until the potential of the outside of the
>vessel is so high relative to nearby objects that you get breakdown
>of the air. Put that Ark on a nice big stone altar and you should be
>able to get a fairly hefty charge on it, as long as you don't have
>sharp points.


The cherubim at each end of the cover have outstretched wings (=sharp
points)

Barbarossa

unread,
May 4, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/4/99
to
Much of the charge holding capability of any capacitor is the actual
surface area of the conductor, and the distance between the sheets of
conductor.

In any electrical engineering test, a wooden box of chest or coffin size,
with gilding only on the inside and outside, would have a very low
capacitance measured in millifarads, if not microfarads.

On the other hand, if one visits one's local high-end automotive stereo
emporium, one may find a 12 volt 1 Farad (!) capacitor about the size of a
partly used roll of paper towels.

The jolt from one of these babies will melt the end off a Craftsman® 12"
screwdriver, or take off your wedding ring along with your finger.

A gilded wooden box might be as good as a carpet and a doorknob.
--
____________________B_a_r_b_a_r_o_s_s_a____________________ ;^{>

Wayne B. Hewitt Encinitas, CA whe...@ucsd.edu

paul rice

unread,
May 12, 1999, 3:00:00 AM5/12/99
to
Umm, wrong group here perhaps ?

Barbarossa <whe...@ucsd.edu> wrote in article
<whewitt-0405...@whewitt.extern.ucsd.edu>...

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages