A colleague and i worked in large distribution boxes this week. The copper rails in them handle up to 600volts/400amperes, so 312 kiloampere total. Although we had the power turned off, the whole thing is on an earth leakage circuitry and we short-circuited it if someone ignores the yellow warning sign telling the world that „this site is being worked on!“ and turns on the power operated circuit-breaker.
As someone who spent four years of his life on being educated in working with electricity, i should have less of a problem with working under such circumstances. Truth is, i don’t. We have tamed electricity, but only to a certain point. And i know the times when people thought electricity is a tiger with pulled teeth, but worked with main-switches that were not insulated but a copper skeleton with a ceramic grip that would glide into a copper clamp[1]. And i knew people who would turn them on under full load, their clothes being set on fire and their sight impaired for a few days by the electric arc.
At the beginning one is very careful. And then comes the moment where one is in the groove and either a washer falls out of his hands right onto one of the uninsulated rails and he tries to catch it, brushing the rails in the process.
A drop of pee escaped.
I guess what i’m trying to say, and to tie it together with some of the events that kept the newscycle alive over the last couple of days is, even if we are in the year 2016 and came a long way from trying to figure out if there is a way to make a sabertooth tiger poop taste good[2], we should not think of the world or the things we built as tamed or safe.

[1] Those things remind me of ribcages.
[2] I’m aware that at this point in time humanity was aware of a large number of nutritious and well tasting alternatives to poop, but it was the first animal from ye old times that came to mind.


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