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Christopher VaughnStrever




Location: San Antonio, TX
Joined: 13 Jun 2008
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PostPosted: Fri 15 May, 2009 5:18 pm    Post subject: knight and lightning         Reply with quote

someone saw me in my armour and mentioned the lightning rod effect from wearing armour... any thing like a knight getting struck by lightning in period artwork or anything?
Experience and learning from such defines maturity, not a number of age
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Steven H




Location: Boston
Joined: 10 May 2006

Posts: 545

PostPosted: Sat 16 May, 2009 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No examples from history that I know of but the metal armour would leave you relatively safe in the event of a lightning strike. The electricity "wants" to travel the path of least resistance and the surface of your armour is it. You are separated from your armour by insulators - padding, clothes, skin etc. So the electricity has no "reason" to travel through you instead.

This phenomenon is regularly demonstrated at Boston's Museum of Science. The presenter in their electricity show stands in a metal cage with her hands on the bars while it is hit with discharges from the massive Tesla coil. All without injury.

Clearly this would work better if the armour included a helmet and sabatons. And I'm not sure I'd call it safe per se, but the armour certainly shouldn't make it any worse.

Cheers,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Marton Pap




Location: Hungary
Joined: 16 Jan 2006

Posts: 47

PostPosted: Sun 17 May, 2009 4:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.thelocal.se/4401/20060723/
I didn't find other sources yet, but the news here in Hungary definitely said that an armoured man was killed by lightning.
http://www.hirtv.hu/?tPath=/kulfold/&article_hid=108377 Sorry but this site has no English version. Maybe someone knows more about this accident.


Warning!
To be protective against lightning, the armor has to be not only full, but all parts have to be in tight galvanic connection with each other and then grounded!!! Unless the path will be: helmet; arc across padding; head, neck etc.; ground.
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Carl W.




Location: usa
Joined: 07 Aug 2008

Posts: 158

PostPosted: Sun 17 May, 2009 9:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can't contribute to Christopher's original question on evidence, but it must have happened. Soccer players, golfers, etc. get hit & killed, & armour would make it more likely.

The metal cage Steven H. mentions is no doubt carefully engineered to permit the demo. Armour is not designed to be a lightning protection system, & lightning is an extraordinarily high energy violent event, not a demo.

See wikipedia on lightning, electric shock, & lightning rod for more.
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Gabriele A. Pini




Location: Olgiate Comasco, Como
Joined: 02 Sep 2008

Posts: 239

PostPosted: Sun 17 May, 2009 9:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know that the "Alpini", the italian corp of mountain's troop, during the IWW substitute their helmet with a felt hat, because the metal helmet attracted the lighting: during the war on the Alpes they found a great number of sentinels dead with the feet and the head (or the hands, for the rifle) black.

Obliviosly they didn't wear a full armor, who may, in fact, discarge the current, decreasing the risk for the weaver, but the helmet alone acted like the tip of a lightning rod.
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Sean Manning




Location: Austria
Joined: 23 Mar 2008

Posts: 411

PostPosted: Sun 17 May, 2009 9:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The other element is the sweaty arming garment underneath. Would it tend to insulate (seperating the skin from the armour) or conduct?

I'm sure it happened, but I don't know of any examples.
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Jo Thomas




Location: Doncaster, England
Joined: 20 Apr 2009

Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sun 17 May, 2009 9:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steven H wrote:
This phenomenon is regularly demonstrated at Boston's Museum of Science. The presenter in their electricity show stands in a metal cage with her hands on the bars while it is hit with discharges from the massive Tesla coil. All without injury.

This is a Faraday Cage (wikipedia link). I suppose it would be possible to set up a suit of armour to act as a Faraday cage, but I wouldn't want to test it. Big Grin

Oh, and addendum / alteration to the wikipedia list of Faraday cages: a lot of cars are now made of too much plastic and carbon-fibre material to be Faraday cages any more. Don't assume the safest place to be in a thunder storm is your car (although it might be).

Jo Thomas
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Steven H




Location: Boston
Joined: 10 May 2006

Posts: 545

PostPosted: Sun 17 May, 2009 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If a car can function as a Faraday cage then so could armour. But it wouldn't necessarily. I hypothesize that 12th and 13th century full mail armour would be most likely to work followed by full plate harness. Any kind of partial armour would presumable not work well.

All told I'm not convinced that metal armour increases the likelihood of a strike. Or if it does increase the likelihood of a strike it does so specifically because the suit is conductive and grounded.

However, I'm not willing to conduct the experiments. It'd still be dangerous after all.

Cheers,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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James Arlen Gillaspie
Industry Professional



Location: upstate NY
Joined: 10 Nov 2005

Posts: 525

PostPosted: Sun 17 May, 2009 5:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Over the years, ever since someone first ribbed me about my likelyhood of being struck by lightning, I've kept a weather eye out (pardon the pun) in my historical reading for such an event, and can't recall running across a single one, despite reading of major battles fought during storms. Anybody else find one?
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Zach Gordon




Location: Vermont. USA
Joined: 07 Oct 2008

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PostPosted: Sun 17 May, 2009 5:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Someone actually sorta tested this... Chris Angel (a stunt magician with a tv show) put on a mail suit made for shark divers and got struck by lightning.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDFuUgXWHIw
sorry for the poor quality i didn't see a better one.
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Xan Stepp




Location: Ithaca, NY
Joined: 19 Dec 2008

Posts: 54

PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2009 1:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First of all, I don't see any reason that a full harness couldn't work as a Faraday cage, I just doubt how effective it could be. The person inside would need to be completely insulated from the metal shell, and this is just not that likely considering that he is probably wet as well. Also the pointed nature of most armor would cause an uneven field distribution in certain areas, which may have negative effects. Finally, even if the person were shielded from the negative electrical effects, some of the secondary effects of the strike (concussion, superheated steam, etc.) may still do the person.

However, as for the (apparent) lack of historical references to lightning strikes, I have a possible solution. It seems that lightning flashes are fairly uncommon in Modern Europe (see http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/images/co...ap_m.jpg), and these statistics account only for flashes not ground to air or air to ground strikes. With this in mind, and the assumption that the lightning patterns over Europe were the same earlier as they are now (a big assumption, but we really have no other data) it seems that there is a very small probably of being struck by lightning in Europe, whether or not you are in armor.

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deyr sjlfur i sama;
en orstr deyr aldregi
hveim er sr gan getur.
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Gabriele A. Pini




Location: Olgiate Comasco, Como
Joined: 02 Sep 2008

Posts: 239

PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2009 3:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A complete armor, linked from the helmet to the boots, can decrease the current through the body of the wearer, but would also decrease the natural resistance of the foot of a men, increasing the amperage of the circuit.

Like we know, it's the amperage that kill a man, but the amperage exist only in a complete circuit.

V = I.R

(The Volts are equal to the Ampers multiplied for the Ohms)

In a circuit sky-man-earth the use of insulation, like work boots, increase the ohms, decrasing the ampers (the volts are fixed, depending on the actual "power" of the lighting): if the ampers are sufficiently reduced there is a chance that the current couldn't kill the person (it's this the motive that use of electrical current with wet feet is so dangerous: the water decrease the resistance feet-earth, increasing the amperage).

Sometimes ago I touched an exposed wire of an old bulb. Fortunately I touched it after the bulb and I weared sport shoes, so I could pull of my fingers, without any damage to myself.
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Stephane Rabier




Location: Brittany
Joined: 13 Nov 2006

Posts: 104

PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2009 5:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi,
the problem with an armor is the gaps between two plates, even if they touch each other, the electrical contact is far from perfect and some BIG sparks can occur or the body could act as a jumper between those parts.
Also, the intensity of a lighting is always very high and the iron (bad conductor) would certainly get red hot and the guy inside "well done" to "overcooked"...
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
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PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2009 9:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is semi related.... The last pagan king of Ireland (King of Connacht, Daithi, Nathi) was claimed to have been stuck by lightning at the foot of the Alps, campaigning towards the edge of Roman Gaul. I would expect him to have had good period armour, but not plate harness. At the time he was evicting a hermit (Formenius) from a tower. In the legend, he was known for incredible speed (deflecting arrows with his bare hands.) Evidently he did not see the bolt coming! Some background is here; http://www.odubhda.com/Default.asp?menuid=25

I was unable to find an illustration of the above event. Additionally, the location specified in the legend is suspicious, and likely an error in interpretation or a period exaggeration of the actual campaign. I could not find corroborative accounts from Romans or Gaul. His body was returned home, which was quite a distance logistically when considering the time frame of a decaying corpse.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Angela Harris




Location: Charlotte area, North Carolina
Joined: 05 May 2009

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2009 11:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ironically I've had this same conversation with guys fixing to joust after a thunderstorm...hey, we live in the south! I think someone needs to post this to the Mythbusters. I'd love to see if they could prove or disprove this one LOL.
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Max Chouinard




Location: Quebec, Qc
Joined: 23 Apr 2008

Posts: 108

PostPosted: Tue 23 Jun, 2009 8:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The boat of the grand master of the Hospitalier order Villiers de L'isle Adam was struck by lightning near 1522 en route to Rhodes. Nine men died, Villiers sword was caught by a crackle that reduced it to a "twisted scrap" but he remained unharmed (as of course the sword wasn't drawn).
Maxime Chouinard

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J. Scott Moore





Joined: 25 Nov 2008

Posts: 72

PostPosted: Tue 23 Jun, 2009 9:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

not too sure about how well armor would protect against it, but as for a mounted soldier, well my uncle survived a bolt that killed his horse. he was rendered unconcious, and his hat has a neat burn hole. he now is about 55 years old, and has had about 5-6 children.

if he could survive a bolt, without any significant amount of metal on him, wouldn't a metal casing, with the added insulation of arming garments just conduct the energy straight to the horse?

as for lightening traveling through the fastest material possible, I think that wet metal would be a far better conducter than damp clothes. I am sure that it would get VERY hot inside though.

"Whoever desires peace, let him prepare for war."
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Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Wed 24 Jun, 2009 11:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmmmm...

One of the first things I learned about electricity is that it is fickle and unpredictable in nature. Sure, harnessed for house-hold use or whatever it's reliable, but in nature there are so many variables. So, in my opinion you could come across two examples of similiarly sized persons in practically the same armor and situation, but because of some variable or three you can't find, one never got hit or was utterly unharmed and the other got toasted.

As for armor increasing the odds of a lightning strike, consider how often your car gets hit. Lightning strikes are rare, period. Odds are against you being hit regardless of what you're wearing. A good portion of it is about luck and chance. You might well be able to run around in a open field wearing armor during a thunderstorm every chance you get for the rest of your life and never get hit. On the other hand, you could be sleeping at home and a bolt could come through the ceiling and kill you in your bed. (On a side note it was in the news for my area that some woman lost the roof to her living room recently to a lightning strike.)

All this being said, keep in mind even with the odds the way they are, somebody has to be the unlucky sucker who beats the odds. So, don't go dancing around a open field or whatever with or without armor. To put it in Dungeons and Dragons terms, everyone rolls a 1 sooner or later and you only need to fumble the roll once.
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