'Shocking' Tale of the Apple iPod

Dennis Faas's picture

Let's face it, up until this point the Apple iPod has been the golden boy of modern electronics.

By comparison, everything else in the tech realm seems to fall apart: Xbox 360s overheat, laptop batteries catch fire, and everyone hates Windows Vista. Well, Apple's no longer safe, and neither are the iPod's users. At least, that's the case if they decide to listen to their tunes during a lightning storm.

The warning comes from north of the border, where a Vancouver, British Columbia doctor has launched a crusade to keep MP3 fans safe from Mother Nature. Dr. Eric Heffernan has found that digital music players, particularly those where ear buds are used, can lead to significant injury.

Dr. Eric Heffernan at Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia, is the lead author of a report which looks at instances of people who are struck by lightning while attached to techie devices. Filed in the New England Journal of Medicine, Heffernan's study finds that electronics like the iPod can change the physics of nearby lightning strikes.

Also weighing in on the issue is Chicago physician Dr. Mary Ann Cooper, who recently stated, "It's going to hit where it's going to hit, but once it contacts metal, the metal conducts the electricity". (Source: xinhuanet.com)

Surprisingly, it's not the MP3 player itself (or any other electronic device) that attracts the bolt. Instead, it's simply a case where using a techie item that contains metal emphasizes the impact of a strike in the near vicinity.

So, why is the iPod receiving such bad press?

You can blame Canada for that, too. In June, 2005 a Burnaby, B.C. jogger was struck by lightning while cowering under a tree wearing his iPod, ignoring not one, but two fairly common 'red lights'. Maybe someone should have handed him a golf club for good measure. (Source: lfpress.ca)

It hasn't been funny business for the victim, however. Although doctors don't blame the iPod for attracting the lightning, they do believe it worsened his injuries. "Although the use of a device such as an iPod may not increase the chances of being struck by lightning, in this case, the combination of sweat and metal earphones directed the current to, and through, the patient's head". (Source: xinhuanet.com)

From a distance, it seems as though the unlucky iPod was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, music, video, and even video game fans should be aware of the dangers lurking several miles above us.

They should also be wary of personal lapses in judgment.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet