[LISTEN] What causes handshake static shock?

Have you ever wondered why you sometimes get a shock when you touch someone?

Naked Scientist Chris Smith says people are increasingly wearing rubber sole shoes, but shoes made out of leather are a poor conductor of electricity.

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When you walk around especially on carpets, you end up with some charges rubbed off you and some charges rubbed off the rug onto you, and because the shoes are an insulator, you can't quickly get electricity flowing between the two to balance out the charge equilibrium.

Chris Smith, Naked Scientist

The Naked Scientist says a person can slowly accumulate a charge over a period of time.

When you go and shake someone's hand, they will have a different charge to you, and therefore, there is a potential electrical difference between the two of you, and so a current wants to flow. That is why you get a shock when you touch another person as that charge is equilibrium.

Chris Smith, Naked Scientist

Smith adds that there are things one could do to reverse this effect.

You could go and earth yourself regularly, so if you go and touch something connected to the earth, then the current will bounce from you to the object, and that means you will build less of a charge.

Chris Smith, Naked Scientist

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