July 13, 2007

Doctors Warn iPods Can Convert to Lightning iRods

Constantly wearing a portable music player, such as an iPod, may be the next stage in evolution for some members of our species. But Mother Nature apparently does not approve.

A letter to the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) from doctors at Vancouver General Hospital in Canada relates the case of a 37-year-old man, brought to the emergency room of the hospital after being hit by lightning while jogging and listening to his iPod. The lightning first hit a nearby tree before reaching him, and witnesses said he was thrown about eight feet.

iPods and 'Disrupted Flashover'

The incident, which the Journal called an "uncommon" hazard, may seem laughable, but his injuries are not. He received second-degree burns on his chest and left leg, and there were two "linear burns" along his chest, neck and sides of his face, tracing the lines of his earphones. Both of his "tympanic membranes" -- eardrums -- were ruptured, small bones in his middle ears were dislocated, his jaw was broken, and he had a "severe conducive hearing deficit."

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