The Body Electric – by Gabby Fringette
No, I’m not doing a review of the famous Whitman poem, the human body really does produce electricity. Actually, all animals do. A tiny electrical current runs out body, it carries signals from point A to B, so to speak. That’s why being electrocuted is so dangerous, it basically fries our circuits.
Now, how our body produces this electricity, that’s interesting. It’s a process called the sodium-potassium gate. When you cells are ‘resting’, and doing nothing, there’s more potassium inside the cells than sodium. Sodium ions are positive so the area outside the cell is positively charged. Potassium is negatively charged so the area inside the cell is negatively charged, and if you know just a little bit about how atoms work, atoms want to be balanced, so the sodium wants to be where the negative charge is, and the potassium where the positive charge is. When the cell sends a message , it ‘opens the gate’ and the ions change places. This rapid switch in negative and positive makes and electrical impulse.
The less technical version? The cells make the electricity. This is how your whole body operates, it’s how your brain operates, and if you over-think how incredible it is that this exists, you’ll give yourself an existential crisis. And you will be using these impulses the entire time!
All animals do this, electric eels do it far more in order to stun prey. But how much do humans make? Could we really be used as batteries?
Nope! We produce between 10 and 100 millivolts. Millivolts are one thousandth of a volt. We are incapable of making more. Even so, pretty cool!