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Author Topic: Does an electric eel shock itself?  (Read 7490 times)

Offline Tigerkix

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Does an electric eel shock itself?
« on: 15/09/2009 17:31:46 »
Would an electric eel start getting muscle and nerve spasms when it lets off its electrical charge?
*also wondering if it lets of ac or dc currents....
« Last Edit: 27/09/2009 15:12:55 by chris »


 

Offline Don_1

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Re: Does an electric eel shock itself?
« Reply #1 on: 16/09/2009 08:20:47 »
The electric pulse delivered by an electric eel is used to stun prey or defend against predators. It would be pretty useless if it stunned the eel at the same time, so no, they are not effected by their own pulse.

The electric eel is not, in fact, an eel, it is an air breathing fish, more closely related to the catfish than to eels. They can grow up to 3m (9ft +), the larger adults can emit pulses of electricity of around 600v.

The electricity is generated by plates, which can form around 4/5Th's of the entire body, working in a similar way to a battery. This being the case, I presume it is DC current, but confess I have never given it a thought. Its enough to stun an adult human and, if enough pulses are delivered, can kill.

Nizzle might be able to give a better idea on the AC or DC question. C'mon Nizzle, put down that Belgian chocolate & get typing!
 

Offline LeeE

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Re: Does an electric eel shock itself?
« Reply #2 on: 16/09/2009 12:06:12 »
I had assumed that electric eels used D.C. but a check on wikipedia reveals that it's A.C.  It seems that electric eels use low voltage pulses, around 10V at about 25Hz, for electrolocation and high voltage pulses, up to 650V and 'several' hundred Hz, for defense and stunning.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_eel

Hmm... I think that article could do with a bit of a rewrite.
 

Offline Tigerkix

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Re: Does an electric eel shock itself?
« Reply #3 on: 16/09/2009 14:01:32 »
Wow cool thanks guys for answering my question!!
The electric "eel" produces more shock than i thought! Maybe I'll keep one in my car in case i need a jump start.
 

Offline Don_1

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Re: Does an electric eel shock itself?
« Reply #4 on: 16/09/2009 15:36:13 »
So, its AC eh Lee.

Ah well, I'm wrong....... again!
 

Offline wanhafizi

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Re: Does an electric eel shock itself?
« Reply #5 on: 17/09/2009 18:21:25 »
"Researchers at Yale University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), applying modern engineering design tools to one of the basic units of life, argue that artificial cells could be built that not only replicate the electrical behavior of electric eel cells but in fact improve on them. Artificial versions of the eel's electricity generating cells could be developed as a power source for medical implants and other tiny devices" - Wikipedia

Wow, that's fascinating! Great idea!
 

Online Bored chemist

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Re: Does an electric eel shock itself?
« Reply #6 on: 17/09/2009 18:29:50 »
So, its AC eh Lee.

Ah well, I'm wrong....... again!
Not really- pulsed DC isn't the same as AC.
Either the head is never positive compared to the tail- or it's never negative. With AC the current would really alternate.
This makes no real difference from the point of view of the prey.
 

Offline LeeE

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Re: Does an electric eel shock itself?
« Reply #7 on: 18/09/2009 20:06:41 »
That's a good point BC.  If the pulses only range from 0 to +voltage, and don't actually swing through -voltage then it is going to be DC after all.  My bad for misreading what was actually said.

Oops! - I hope Tigerkix is still reading this thread.
« Last Edit: 18/09/2009 20:10:58 by LeeE »
 

Offline Tigerkix

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Re: Does an electric eel shock itself?
« Reply #8 on: 19/09/2009 08:51:27 »
Yep still paying attention to this thread and disappointed that i can't use an electric eel to jump start my car. But thx for this info! everybody learns something =D

....maybe if i attach it directly to the starter motor....
 

Offline chris

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Does an electric eel shock itself?
« Reply #9 on: 27/09/2009 15:18:40 »
I cannot see how the eel can produce AC electricity. The mechanism of discharge is similar to the electrochemical flux that causes our own heartbeat, skeletal muscle contraction or nerve action potentials. It occurs when ions are stored at differential concentrations across a membrane and are suddenly permitted to transit the membrane owing to the opening of specialised ion channels. This ionic flux generates a current and alters the potential difference locally. It does not equate to genuine AC, although the repolarisation (recharging) of the membrane will lead to a reverse in the polarity of the PD locally, but the timings will be very different and hence it would be a very strange AC wave form!

Chris
 

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Does an electric eel shock itself?
« Reply #9 on: 27/09/2009 15:18:40 »

 

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