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Jurassic Park - Fence Shock
This error has occurred (in one form or another) in other movies as well.
At one point where Grant and the kids are fleeing across the park, they climb across an electric fence. Grant and Alexis make it, but Timmy is not quite down before the power comes on and the shock blasts him away.
*What* shock, though? He isn't touching anything but the fence, so there's no earth plane to which a current through him could flow -- so how did he get a shock?
Special Requirements:
A slight knowledge of physics
Avg. Rating:    5.2 of 10 - (111 votes cast)
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Contributed By:
Eboreg Onxre on 05-13-2000
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wittyjokes writes:
Being an electrician myself, this scene is perfectly fine. As stated in other comments, earth is a vital thing you need to be shocked, but not the only thing. What gives you the shock is the current passing through your body onto something else that isnt the same item. For example, if you grab hold of a power line, with your feet off the floor, nothing will happen. This is because the current flows through you and you feel nothing. If however you grab a second line, you will be shocked, as the electricty will effectivly jump through your body, giving you a shock. The reason there is an earth wire in all cables (bar self earthing cables) is to prevent the item that is wired up becoming live if there are any problems. This is why everyone assumes you have to be earthed to be shocked. Birds sit on wires because they are only on one..If they spread there legs to a second wire, bye bye burd!. Also about the contracting muscles, this is only with DC. If the line is AC, it throws you from the appliance.
75 of 81 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Nigel Sutherland writes:
There's a bigger problem with this scene. Take a look at the fence; the horizontal cables that supposedly carry the high voltage are connected to each other by stout, metal wires. If Timmy can electrocuted when he completes a circuit by bridging the horizontal cables with his body, then these vertical wires are going to cause one almighty short circuit. Also - if the fence is not powerful enough to kill a small boy on the spot, what possible effect would it have on an rampaging eight ton dinosaur? It wouldn't even notice it.
16 of 17 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Robyn writes:
By that rational, it seems pretty stupid that Dr. Grant would throw a stick at the electrical wire to test it, right?
16 of 20 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
mkardec writes:
I agree with you. As pigeons don't get shocked by "landing" on uncoated power lines, the same should be applied to the boy. All the wires in the fence are connected with each other by metallic wires, so, all of them shares the same phase/voltage, so, touching two or more fence wires will not cause shock. The boy would only get shocked if the voltage is really high (about half-million or more volts) at which "air grounding" phenomenum takes place and some electricity run through air from sharp objects (like hands, hair, foot, etc.) when compared to a wire.
12 of 15 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
CosmicStar writes:
Anyone else notice that the space between the wires was big enough for the kids to climb through? The good Dr. would have probably had to climb over but poor Timmy wouldn't have had to get that little shock.
9 of 10 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Davo100 writes:
I am amazed how many of the posters here have little or no knowledge of how electricity actually works!!! When Tim is on the fence, he is at the same electrical potential as the fence, therefore there is no voltage gradient across his body, therefore no current flows, therefore no shock. Read a science book; it's true!!! Birds can happily sit on high tension wires for the same reason. Trust me, I'm a scientist!!
11 of 17 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Scolman writes:
The other thing is, why did Timmy get instantly blown of the fence? Electricity causes your muscles to contract, and whenever electricians working with high power cables, they touch it with the back of their hand instead of gripping it to see if the power is still on (OK, so there are easier ways for testing whether or not a line is live or not these days) This prevents their hand from automatically closing in a 'death grip' on the cable, and so they live long enough to go kick the s**t out of whoever was supposed to turn the power off. So really, Timmy would have kicked around a bit before falling off.
4 of 6 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
John Willis writes:
To get a shock the kid must be bridging two parts of significantly different potential. From the Movie it can be seen all the wires are tied together by another conductive wire, therefore the fence is not interlaced and the potential difference between any two points would be negligible, certainly not enough for an electric shock. There is however is a very, very, implausible possible reason for the shock to occur, if the AC current is of significantly high frequency to induce a current in the kid at a different phase to the wire, it could possibly flow through his arms and legs. The power required to do this, if even possible given the length of wire in proximity, would be immense.
2 of 2 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Eboreg Onxre writes:
For current to flow, there has to be somewhere for it to flow *to* (usually called the sink) as well as the source where it is flowing *from*. Thus, in order to get a shock, one has to be touching two electrically-conductive things at different voltages (such as a live wire and the ground). No second contact -> no sink -> no shock. Didn't you ever see birds land on a live wire, or the live rail of an electric railway? They don't get fried, do they?
2 of 3 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Neo writes:
The voltage is not what hurts a person getting shocked, it is the current. Normally current goes up as voltage does so it would be easy to make that mistake. And, no, it wouldn't have necessarily killed him. I'm sure you've all heard about humans surviving a hit of lightning.
3 of 5 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Scolman writes:
Even if the kid was technically dead for a few moments, what makes this scene even more incorrect is that he should have had 2nd and 3rd degree burns after coming of the fence.
3 of 5 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Kat & Kel writes:
I just wanted to say that a dummy wasn't used, it was a stunt woman. I read it in a magazine.
2 of 3 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Hayley writes:
Look for the answer in the same slip-up posted earlier.Think about it, 10,000 volts of power just shot through dead wires. Something was bound to happen. As for not hurting a dino if it couldn't even kill a boy. Well it is not meant to kill the dino's. It is meant to scare them away from trying to get through the fence. And since the dinos are standing on the ground if they tried to touch the ground, it would be a full circuit and 10,000 volts later it probably would kill or severely hurt them.
3 of 5 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
bcheetah writes:
take electronics or watch suicide missions, you get a shock if you make a connection between you and the ground...
1 of 2 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
DKqwerty writes:
The problem with the scene is he is thrown from the wire. Even if you rule out the "death-grip" caused by electricity, there is no way that he would have been thrown from the wire 'cause if you slow down the scene you see that when he is thrown off, he is rigid as a board (obviously a dummy). To be thrown from the wire there would need to be several contractions on the legs and arms to throw him away from the wires. Without contractions, he would have fallen straight down and touched it several more times. Also, what people are saying about touching two wires at once, one with his hands and the second with his feet, is inconsequential because his feet have shoes on with rubber soles that would insulate him from the wire on his feet.
1 of 2 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
mcpdon writes:
If you touch two or more wires, you will get a shock...the current will go from one wire through you and into the other wire. You're body acts as the ground, if you will. Therefore, yes, the kid would get shocked in that situation. Birds don't get shocked cuz they only touch one wire.
6 of 13 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
CtSgIt writes:
He would have been shocked (just not to the full 10,000 volts), this is not static electrcity. If it was static electricity in the wires, he would need to be touching the ground and 10000 volts would barely hurt and not do any damage. This is current electricity flowing through. His hands were on a wire carrying a positive flow and his feet were on a wire carrying a negative flow (or vice versa). When the electricity got turned on, it went from his hands to his feet (which would kill him anyway) shocking him.
1 of 3 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
dxdec writes:
Sod the electric fence, hitting the ground from that height at that trajectory would have cracked his skull like a peanut in a car crusher. Also the moist tropical air would play havoc with 10,000 volts and the lowest live cables would have arc'ed to the ground and other cables would arc to each other. They came from within the pen, the other side was CONCRETE, he couldnt have lived. Its a movie anyway, so who cares!
2 of 5 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Jazu writes:
It would be faster for the electricity to go through the wire, and the kid wouldn't ground the current, so he wouldn't get zapped. I think he would just get burned.
1 of 4 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Steve writes:
If the fence was alternating charged and ground lines (as some fences do), then he could very easily have gotten zapped.
0 of 2 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Ryochan writes:
Rubber or not, that little amount won't protect you from 10,000 volts of electricity. Rubber's an insulator which doesn't conduct electricity as much as a semi-conductor or conductor, but nothing is really 100% electric-proof
0 of 2 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes writes:
quite possibly there was different voltages between the wires of the fence, the difference would cause a shock when touching two wires, as for the vertical wires, between the horizontal, they are usualy made with a non conductive material (like glass or porcelin(sp))to keep the wires from shorting out, also the novel mentioned several fences were damaged and not working properly due to downed tree limbs from the storm. also having done electrical work, it is very possible to be thrown back, (or appear to be), having been shocked a few times, for a moment, you are "Frozen" to the material shocking you, and in attempting to free yourself you pull yourself away, and you need more energy to go in reverse, because of the power shock, that when you break free, you actually fall back, (like pulling on something that unexpectually breaks free causes you to fall)
0 of 2 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
alexrules43 writes:
This scene is defintely fine. Tim was touching two wires, which shocked him. Also, it has been known that a sudden shock can throw people great distances. There is a clear flub, however. Tim is thrown backwards, head first, but lands on his side.
0 of 3 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Trivimaster writes:
Well, in case you don't know, when an electric fence has a tension that great, you could get a shock even if you are not touching the ground, only it's not that big. (If the kid really got 10.000 volts through him he would have never survived that zapping.)
0 of 4 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
benigs writes:
Huh? I don't quite understand you... What earth plane? I thought he got a shock because the electricity runs through the wire of the fence...
0 of 6 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
@ssKicker writes:
Timmy was standing on two wires, how else would he have been able to climb the fence? That means he DOES get a shock! Simple as that! (@_@)
0 of 12 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Joe writes:
Yes he would have been shocked. If you think other wise try jumping on an electic fence and see what happens, serious don't do that. What good would the fence be if the dinosaurs could jump and avoid shock? The stick test would have worked. And if you don't remember the shock did kill the kid. Through the use of CPR, which was performed incorrectly, he was brought back to life.
1 of 17 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes

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