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Author Topic: Inventor of the Electric Chair  (Read 43650 times)

Ace

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #25 on: 28/01/2004 08:22:40 »
I'm just wondering if Edison ever had any run-ins with PETA! :D

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Offline s_firestone

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #26 on: 06/03/2004 03:18:58 »
The invention of the electric chair is a very controversial topic as is anything surrounding the DC/AC electricity wars of the turn of the 20th century.

Keep in mind that AC is no more or less dangerous than DC as it only takes approximately 1/4 of an Amp in the right circumstances crossing your heart to interrupt it's rhythym, killing you.  

Most people take things such as a car battery's seemingly small 12VDC for granted.  

What you don't take into account is that if you become the "path of least resistance" to ground that 12V car battery can kill you just as efficiently as a 110VAC line.  A 12VDC car battery can develop enough moving electrons to create heat sufficient to melt a 1" thick copper rod in 1 second.



I will begin with saying I am a staunch and biased supporter of Tesla.  His accomplishments in the advance of electromagnetic theory and it's application has been systematically ignored or downplayed for over a century.  

I HIGHLY recommend throwing out everything you were taught in your politically correct science textbooks.  

While Edison is portrayed as a hero of invention in scientific literature and media, Tesla is barely recognized if at all.  All one must do is a little research off the beaten path.  

There is alot of evidence to the contrary that portrays Edison more as an utterly ruthless control freak with alot of money and the backing of some very influential people.  Edison ran what you would call an invention sweatshop.  Employing many talented people through which Edison gained all credit.  To him, everything was about winning and profit even to the point of slurring others with propaganda, sabotage, or flat out ruining anyone he considered competition.

Much of what you commonly know about Edison has to do with the power of the rich to influence how history is interpreted.  This phenomenon is not new, but rather still practiced rampantly even today.

I will only touch on the points regarding how the electric chair came to be that I feel have been overlooked in prior posts.


Edison together with General Electric marketed and produced Direct Current apparatus.  Westinghouse, their competition supported the use of Tesla's methods and apparatus of utilizing Alternating Current.

Edison, trying to protect his power monopoly engaged in a massive campaign to try to discredit the use of AC as being inferior to DC.  Though this was not true.  Edison tried several tactics attempting to sway public opinion in his favor.  His most horrific being the use of scare tactics to literally shock people into believing that AC was extremely dangerous and DC was benign.

There are several accounts of this story from both sides.  Likely the truth lies somewhere in between.

There are even accounts that Edison and his cronies even went as far as paying kids $0.25 to round up stray dogs and cats which were publicly excuted at county fairs to show people the supposed danger of AC.  Several trial runs were accomplished for politicians electrocuting horses and cattle and some accounts including an elephant.  

The first execution of a human being via AC was quite a brutal event as theere was so much hype put into humanely execution via AC(being that it was so dangerous).  The Governor of New York, foreign dignitaries, all watched in horror as the events unfolded before their eyes.

The simple truth was that it didn't work the first time.  After 30 seconds of having 2000V AC pulsed through his body the inmate did not die.  He suffered and gasped for breath as officials and operators had to scurry to re-spin up the "Westinghouse" dynamo and on the second attempt they shunted the full capacity of the generator through him.  Accounts range from the smell of smoke to the man catching fire and arcs of electricity jumping from him.  All who witnessed it were speechless.  Edison's reputation in that circle was severly damaged by the event.  

Its very likely that this would later come back to haunt him as Westinghouse and Tesla's opposing AC system was recommended and adopted in the first long range power generation facility built at Niagara Falls, NY to Buffalo, NY in 1896 and within a few years New York City.  Eventually powering all of New York.  And eventually our world.

Sorry for the long post,

Stephen Firestone
Journeyman Manipulator
of Meticulously Miniscule
Molecules of Matter
that Matter Not


These are general informational sites about Tesla and Edison, but make reference to the widely publicized scandal revolving around the origin of the electric chair:

newbielink:http://www.luminet.net/~wenonah/new/tesla.htm [nonactive]

newbielink:http://www.4reference.net/encyclopedias/wikipedia/Nikola_Tesla.html [nonactive]

newbielink:http://www.4reference.net/encyclopedias/wikipedia/Thomas_Edison.html [nonactive]


I will warn you that these two sites below have detailed accounts and are not intended for anything but a mature audience and are not for the faint of heart:

newbielink:http://members.aol.com/karlkeys/chair.htm [nonactive]

newbielink:http://www.crimelibrary.com/notorious_murders/not_guilty/chair/5.html?sect=14 [nonactive]
 

Offline Observer101

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #27 on: 31/08/2004 19:04:18 »
Wow, let me clear up a few things.  1.)Ground: a single NODE in a circuit, it is a term that is descriptive and arbitrary.  To recieve a shock you have to be part of an electric circuit where part of your body is connected to positive (or ac phase A.) and another part of your body to negative (ac phase B.) whereby the current flows THROUGH you.  You can be grounded or not and you still get zapped.  Example:  one pole of a power supply is grounded you touch the other pole if you arent grounded, no zap, if you are grounded, zap!  If the power supply does not have one pole grounded and you touch one OR the other pole and wether or not you are grounded, no zap.  Touch both poles and zap!

2.) Voltage is equivlent to pressure in a water pipe.  More voltage (pressure) will cause more current (electron flow) (Flow in gallons per second) through a given size opening (resistance ohms). the formula:  Current(flow in Amps) = Voltage(pressure) divided by Risistance(ohms). The formulas use the following:  I=Amps, E=Volts, R=Ohms, P=Watts. I=E/R, E=IxR, R=E/I, P=IxE ect.

3.) A 12 volt battery WILL NOT EVER give you a shock.  However, if you have anything that has a coil of wire such as a starter moter or a spark coil it is possible to place yourself in a circuit that could produce several hundreds or thousands of volts that WILL zap you!

Summary:

Volts            Pressure             ElectroMotiveForce EMF

Amps             Current Flow         6.28X10^18 electrons per second

Ohms             Resistance           0 = short, Infinate = open

Watts            Power                746 watts = 1 Horse power

Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations? (- George Carlin)
 

Offline chris

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #28 on: 03/09/2004 09:06:17 »
Thanks, 101, for your informative post.

Chris

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Offline Ray hinton

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #29 on: 30/01/2006 23:45:13 »
Oh thank you very much ! ive just moved into my new house,next door is a dental surgery,ive spoken to the dentist on a few occations,and he seems quite an amicable chap.
they advetise that they are needle-less dentists,i understand why now,the calming effects of electricity is the answer.
ffffiiiiiiiiiizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

every village has one !
 

Offline Andy28

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #30 on: 16/09/2006 16:07:01 »
Have you seen the video on the net where they electrocuted an elephant? It died in seconds. I don't see how they can say the electric chair is 'cruel and unusual punishment'. As soon as the electricity enters You it destroys the brains abilty to register pain in less than a second. I imagine you just feel a sharp sting in your head and thats it.
« Last Edit: 16/09/2006 16:09:21 by Andy28 »
 

another_someone

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #31 on: 16/09/2006 16:42:28 »
quote:
Originally posted by Andy28

Have you seen the video on the net where they electrocuted an elephant? It died in seconds. I don't see how they can say the electric chair is 'cruel and unusual punishment'. As soon as the electricity enters You it destroys the brains abilty to register pain in less than a second. I imagine you just feel a sharp sting in your head and thats it.



What, you mean they sat an elephant on an electric chair?

More seriously, how do you know the elephant died in seconds?  It may have been paralysed in seconds, but there is a great difference between paralysis and actual death, and even a difference between paralysis and loss of sensation.  There have been many cases, from hospital ops where insufficient anaesthetic has been administered, to tazar victims, where the victim has been shown to be completely unable to visibly respond to pain, and yet they later report substantial pain was felt.

When an electric current enters the brain, it will create a channel through the brain that will become superheated and carbonised, but it will take a long time for the rest of the brain to be killed off.  There is no way of knowing which parts of the brain will the first to die, and it will probably be different in each instance.  The brain can sense phantom pain even in limbs that have been amputated, so even totally severing the connections between the brain and the rest of the body does not guarantee that the brain will not perceive phantom pain.  Your most likely reason for not feeling pain is that the victim may be in a state of total shock, but this effects different people differently for some people, they can suffer quite extensive trauma, but will be protected from feeling any pain because of the adrenaline rush that comes with the shock, while for others this has very little effect.



George
 

Offline Andy28

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #32 on: 16/09/2006 17:06:50 »
I'm just trying to picture it. Nobody knows for sure what it feels like cos nobody has lived to say but i imagine there is not much pain. Every muscle in the body contracts so even if the brain did'nt die straight away, surely you would die of a heart attack? I disagree with people who say it's like being fried in hot oil.
 

another_someone

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #33 on: 16/09/2006 17:38:13 »
quote:
Originally posted by Andy28
I'm just trying to picture it. Nobody knows for sure what it feels like cos nobody has lived to say but i imagine there is not much pain. Every muscle in the body contracts so even if the brain did'nt die straight away, surely you would die of a heart attack? I disagree with people who say it's like being fried in hot oil.



Dying of a heart attack can take several minutes.  The brain can survive without a fresh blood supply for up to 7 minutes - so that can be up to 7 minutes of agony - although I would imagine that after the first couple of minutes you would start hallucinating and losing touch with reality.

In fact, the kind of muscle contractions you describe are exactly the effects you would expect from nerve agents (e.g. sarin).  I don't think that those people who have suffered from a nerve gas attack and lived to tell the tale, or watched someone else dying from a nerve gas attack, would tell you that the victim feels no pain.



George
 

Offline Andy28

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #34 on: 16/09/2006 18:26:07 »
Have you listened to the georgia execution tapes? It is a collection of recordings of the condemed inmates' executions. Phase one (as they call it) is over in around 4 seconds and they report that the body is limp once it is completed. The whole 3 phases (2000 volts, 700 volts and 170 volts) takes no more than 2 minuites. I am sure unconciousness results in seconds.
 

another_someone

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #35 on: 16/09/2006 20:12:56 »
quote:
Originally posted by Andy28

Have you listened to the georgia execution tapes? It is a collection of recordings of the condemed inmates' executions. Phase one (as they call it) is over in around 4 seconds and they report that the body is limp once it is completed. The whole 3 phases (2000 volts, 700 volts and 170 volts) takes no more than 2 minuites. I am sure unconciousness results in seconds.



I cannot say I have listened to the tapes, but it does not alter what I had said earlier, that unless you are capable of reviving the person, there is no way of knowing what level of conciousness they have.  The only thing you can say is that they are unresponsive to stimuli but that does not necessitate that they be unconscious.

I did not question at any time that paralysis is almost immediate, but what you have not shown is anything pertaining to conciousness.

One other thing to bear in mind that the real tissue damage occurs not from the voltage but from the current (voltages much higher than 2,000 volts can be obtained from a Van De Graff generator, and although they can provide an unpleasant shock, they would not normally kill you because they are unable to deliver much current).

I cannot vouch for the correctness of the following site, but I am not sure where one can find authoritative information on the matter:

http://www.richard.clark32.btinternet.co.uk/chair.html
quote:

After being led into the execution chamber, the prisoner is strapped into the chair with leather belts across the chest, thighs, legs, and arms. Two copper electrodes are then attached - one to the leg, a patch of which will have been shaved bare to improve conductivity, and the other contained within a helmet to the shaved head. The electrodes are either soaked in brine or treated with gel (Electro-Creme) to increase conductivity and reduce burning.
A leather face mask or black face cloth is applied. The prisoner will also be wearing a diaper.
The executioner presses a button on the control panel to deliver a first shock of between 1,700 and 2,400 volts, which lasts for between 30 seconds and a minute. This is automatically timed and controlled. The current must be under 6 amps to ensure the body does not cook. Smoke usually comes out of the prisoner's leg and head. A doctor then examines the prisoner, who if not dead, is given a further shock (In some states, this is done automatically by the control gear)
A third and fourth are given if necessary. (It took 5 jolts to kill Ethel Rosenberg)
On average, the process takes 2 minutes,10 seconds and two shocks are given.
The first shock runs for up to one minute and normally destroys the brain and central nervous system. It also causes complete paralysis due to every muscle in the body contracting and staying contracted whilst the current is flowing. This makes heartbeat and respiration impossible. The second shock continues the process to ensure the heartbeat does not resume. The prisoner is supposed to be rendered unconscious in 1/240th of a second.
After electrocution, the body temperature rises to about 138oF and is initially too hot to touch. Heating destroys the body's proteins and "bakes" the organs.
Physical reactions include heaving chest, gurgles, foaming at the mouth, bloody sweat, burning of the hair and skin, and release of faeces.
The body has to be allowed to cool before an autopsy can be performed.
According to Robert H. Kirschner, the deputy chief medical examiner of Cook County, Illinois, "The brain appears cooked in most cases."
According to Judge Brennan, the prisoner's eyeballs sometimes pop out and rest on his cheeks. The prisoner often defecates, urinates, vomits blood and drool. The body turns bright red as its temperature rises, and the prisoner's flesh swells and his skin stretches to the point of breaking. Sometimes the prisoner catches on fire, particularly if he perspires excessively. Witnesses hear a loud and sustained sound like bacon frying, and the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh permeates the chamber.
There is some debate about what the electrocuted prisoner experiences before he dies, many doctors believe that he feels himself being burned to death and suffocating, since the shock causes respiratory paralysis as well as cardiac arrest. According to Harold Hillman, "It must feel very similar to the medieval trial by ordeal of being dropped in boiling oil." Because the energy of the shock paralyses the prisoner's muscles, he cannot cry out. "My mouth tasted like cold peanut butter. I felt a burning in my head and my left leg, and I jumped against the straps," Willie Francis, a 17-year-old who survived an attempted execution in 1946, is reported to have said. Francis was successfully executed a year later.



You will note that the 2 minutes for death to occur is only an average, not an upper limit.  In any case, it is not clear what is meant by death, but I suspect it is probably defined (as historically it probably would have been) as the cessation of heart activity, and takes no account of the fact that brain death may not be simultaneous with heart death.



George
 

Offline Andy28

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #36 on: 16/09/2006 21:20:37 »
Thanks for the link. I personally don't think we should worry about how long it takes for unconciousness to occur. Lets not forget the victims of the chair put themselves in it by breaking the laws of the state. I have no sympathy for them and the lethal injection is a joke.
 

another_someone

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #37 on: 16/09/2006 21:57:47 »
quote:
Originally posted by Andy28
Thanks for the link. I personally don't think we should worry about how long it takes for unconciousness to occur. Lets not forget the victims of the chair put themselves in it by breaking the laws of the state. I have no sympathy for them and the lethal injection is a joke.



Whether you think that the victims of the electric chair deserve their fate or not is a moral judgement, and the issue I was questioning was the scientific arguments.

As to whether the death penalty, in whatever form, actually achieves any reduction in crime, or if it is even intended to reduce crime rates, is a matter that may be debated in a scientific context (even if with a great number of caveats), but whether someone deserves something or not is not a scientific issue at all.



George
 

Offline Andy28

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #38 on: 17/09/2006 13:08:57 »
Sorry lol i thought this was a death row discussion forum - I've just relised it's about science! Whoops.
 

Offline Andy28

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #39 on: 17/09/2006 13:12:38 »
I think it's the amperage that kills you not the voltage. Those electrical stun guns deliver 50,000 volts and all they do is incapacitate you.
 

Offline Andy28

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #40 on: 17/09/2006 13:21:17 »
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone

quote:
Originally posted by Andy28

Have you listened to the georgia execution tapes? It is a collection of recordings of the condemed inmates' executions. Phase one (as they call it) is over in around 4 seconds and they report that the body is limp once it is completed. The whole 3 phases (2000 volts, 700 volts and 170 volts) takes no more than 2 minuites. I am sure unconciousness results in seconds.



I cannot say I have listened to the tapes, but it does not alter what I had said earlier, that unless you are capable of reviving the person, there is no way of knowing what level of conciousness they have.  The only thing you can say is that they are unresponsive to stimuli but that does not necessitate that they be unconscious.

I did not question at any time that paralysis is almost immediate, but what you have not shown is anything pertaining to conciousness.

One other thing to bear in mind that the real tissue damage occurs not from the voltage but from the current (voltages much higher than 2,000 volts can be obtained from a Van De Graff generator, and although they can provide an unpleasant shock, they would not normally kill you because they are unable to deliver much current).

I cannot vouch for the correctness of the following site, but I am not sure where one can find authoritative information on the matter:

http://www.richard.clark32.btinternet.co.uk/chair.html
quote:

After being led into the execution chamber, the prisoner is strapped into the chair with leather belts across the chest, thighs, legs, and arms. Two copper electrodes are then attached - one to the leg, a patch of which will have been shaved bare to improve conductivity, and the other contained within a helmet to the shaved head. The electrodes are either soaked in brine or treated with gel (Electro-Creme) to increase conductivity and reduce burning.
A leather face mask or black face cloth is applied. The prisoner will also be wearing a diaper.
The executioner presses a button on the control panel to deliver a first shock of between 1,700 and 2,400 volts, which lasts for between 30 seconds and a minute. This is automatically timed and controlled. The current must be under 6 amps to ensure the body does not cook. Smoke usually comes out of the prisoner's leg and head. A doctor then examines the prisoner, who if not dead, is given a further shock (In some states, this is done automatically by the control gear)
A third and fourth are given if necessary. (It took 5 jolts to kill Ethel Rosenberg)
On average, the process takes 2 minutes,10 seconds and two shocks are given.
The first shock runs for up to one minute and normally destroys the brain and central nervous system. It also causes complete paralysis due to every muscle in the body contracting and staying contracted whilst the current is flowing. This makes heartbeat and respiration impossible. The second shock continues the process to ensure the heartbeat does not resume. The prisoner is supposed to be rendered unconscious in 1/240th of a second.
After electrocution, the body temperature rises to about 138oF and is initially too hot to touch. Heating destroys the body's proteins and "bakes" the organs.
Physical reactions include heaving chest, gurgles, foaming at the mouth, bloody sweat, burning of the hair and skin, and release of faeces.
The body has to be allowed to cool before an autopsy can be performed.
According to Robert H. Kirschner, the deputy chief medical examiner of Cook County, Illinois, "The brain appears cooked in most cases."
According to Judge Brennan, the prisoner's eyeballs sometimes pop out and rest on his cheeks. The prisoner often defecates, urinates, vomits blood and drool. The body turns bright red as its temperature rises, and the prisoner's flesh swells and his skin stretches to the point of breaking. Sometimes the prisoner catches on fire, particularly if he perspires excessively. Witnesses hear a loud and sustained sound like bacon frying, and the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh permeates the chamber.
There is some debate about what the electrocuted prisoner experiences before he dies, many doctors believe that he feels himself being burned to death and suffocating, since the shock causes respiratory paralysis as well as cardiac arrest. According to Harold Hillman, "It must feel very similar to the medieval trial by ordeal of being dropped in boiling oil." Because the energy of the shock paralyses the prisoner's muscles, he cannot cry out. "My mouth tasted like cold peanut butter. I felt a burning in my head and my left leg, and I jumped against the straps," Willie Francis, a 17-year-old who survived an attempted execution in 1946, is reported to have said. Francis was successfully executed a year later.



You will note that the 2 minutes for death to occur is only an average, not an upper limit.  In any case, it is not clear what is meant by death, but I suspect it is probably defined (as historically it probably would have been) as the cessation of heart activity, and takes no account of the fact that brain death may not be simultaneous with heart death.



George




That big head electrode is right next to the brain. The electricity passes through the brain before anything else and it almost certainly renders you unconcious before you know that the executioner has thrown the switch. However, there have been a number of botched executions (Lee 'Tiny' Davis, Florida 1999) where the inmate has remained concious and has suffered. Prisoners who are heavier need more voltage to kill them.
 

Offline Andy28

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #41 on: 16/09/2006 16:07:01 »
Have you seen the video on the net where they electrocuted an elephant? It died in seconds. I don't see how they can say the electric chair is 'cruel and unusual punishment'. As soon as the electricity enters You it destroys the brains abilty to register pain in less than a second. I imagine you just feel a sharp sting in your head and thats it.
« Last Edit: 16/09/2006 16:09:21 by Andy28 »
 

another_someone

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #42 on: 16/09/2006 16:42:28 »
quote:
Originally posted by Andy28

Have you seen the video on the net where they electrocuted an elephant? It died in seconds. I don't see how they can say the electric chair is 'cruel and unusual punishment'. As soon as the electricity enters You it destroys the brains abilty to register pain in less than a second. I imagine you just feel a sharp sting in your head and thats it.



What, you mean they sat an elephant on an electric chair?

More seriously, how do you know the elephant died in seconds?  It may have been paralysed in seconds, but there is a great difference between paralysis and actual death, and even a difference between paralysis and loss of sensation.  There have been many cases, from hospital ops where insufficient anaesthetic has been administered, to tazar victims, where the victim has been shown to be completely unable to visibly respond to pain, and yet they later report substantial pain was felt.

When an electric current enters the brain, it will create a channel through the brain that will become superheated and carbonised, but it will take a long time for the rest of the brain to be killed off.  There is no way of knowing which parts of the brain will the first to die, and it will probably be different in each instance.  The brain can sense phantom pain even in limbs that have been amputated, so even totally severing the connections between the brain and the rest of the body does not guarantee that the brain will not perceive phantom pain.  Your most likely reason for not feeling pain is that the victim may be in a state of total shock, but this effects different people differently for some people, they can suffer quite extensive trauma, but will be protected from feeling any pain because of the adrenaline rush that comes with the shock, while for others this has very little effect.



George
 

Offline Andy28

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #43 on: 16/09/2006 17:06:50 »
I'm just trying to picture it. Nobody knows for sure what it feels like cos nobody has lived to say but i imagine there is not much pain. Every muscle in the body contracts so even if the brain did'nt die straight away, surely you would die of a heart attack? I disagree with people who say it's like being fried in hot oil.
 

another_someone

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #44 on: 16/09/2006 17:38:13 »
quote:
Originally posted by Andy28
I'm just trying to picture it. Nobody knows for sure what it feels like cos nobody has lived to say but i imagine there is not much pain. Every muscle in the body contracts so even if the brain did'nt die straight away, surely you would die of a heart attack? I disagree with people who say it's like being fried in hot oil.



Dying of a heart attack can take several minutes.  The brain can survive without a fresh blood supply for up to 7 minutes - so that can be up to 7 minutes of agony - although I would imagine that after the first couple of minutes you would start hallucinating and losing touch with reality.

In fact, the kind of muscle contractions you describe are exactly the effects you would expect from nerve agents (e.g. sarin).  I don't think that those people who have suffered from a nerve gas attack and lived to tell the tale, or watched someone else dying from a nerve gas attack, would tell you that the victim feels no pain.



George
 

Offline Andy28

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #45 on: 16/09/2006 18:26:07 »
Have you listened to the georgia execution tapes? It is a collection of recordings of the condemed inmates' executions. Phase one (as they call it) is over in around 4 seconds and they report that the body is limp once it is completed. The whole 3 phases (2000 volts, 700 volts and 170 volts) takes no more than 2 minuites. I am sure unconciousness results in seconds.
 

another_someone

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #46 on: 16/09/2006 20:12:56 »
quote:
Originally posted by Andy28

Have you listened to the georgia execution tapes? It is a collection of recordings of the condemed inmates' executions. Phase one (as they call it) is over in around 4 seconds and they report that the body is limp once it is completed. The whole 3 phases (2000 volts, 700 volts and 170 volts) takes no more than 2 minuites. I am sure unconciousness results in seconds.



I cannot say I have listened to the tapes, but it does not alter what I had said earlier, that unless you are capable of reviving the person, there is no way of knowing what level of conciousness they have.  The only thing you can say is that they are unresponsive to stimuli but that does not necessitate that they be unconscious.

I did not question at any time that paralysis is almost immediate, but what you have not shown is anything pertaining to conciousness.

One other thing to bear in mind that the real tissue damage occurs not from the voltage but from the current (voltages much higher than 2,000 volts can be obtained from a Van De Graff generator, and although they can provide an unpleasant shock, they would not normally kill you because they are unable to deliver much current).

I cannot vouch for the correctness of the following site, but I am not sure where one can find authoritative information on the matter:

http://www.richard.clark32.btinternet.co.uk/chair.html
quote:

After being led into the execution chamber, the prisoner is strapped into the chair with leather belts across the chest, thighs, legs, and arms. Two copper electrodes are then attached - one to the leg, a patch of which will have been shaved bare to improve conductivity, and the other contained within a helmet to the shaved head. The electrodes are either soaked in brine or treated with gel (Electro-Creme) to increase conductivity and reduce burning.
A leather face mask or black face cloth is applied. The prisoner will also be wearing a diaper.
The executioner presses a button on the control panel to deliver a first shock of between 1,700 and 2,400 volts, which lasts for between 30 seconds and a minute. This is automatically timed and controlled. The current must be under 6 amps to ensure the body does not cook. Smoke usually comes out of the prisoner's leg and head. A doctor then examines the prisoner, who if not dead, is given a further shock (In some states, this is done automatically by the control gear)
A third and fourth are given if necessary. (It took 5 jolts to kill Ethel Rosenberg)
On average, the process takes 2 minutes,10 seconds and two shocks are given.
The first shock runs for up to one minute and normally destroys the brain and central nervous system. It also causes complete paralysis due to every muscle in the body contracting and staying contracted whilst the current is flowing. This makes heartbeat and respiration impossible. The second shock continues the process to ensure the heartbeat does not resume. The prisoner is supposed to be rendered unconscious in 1/240th of a second.
After electrocution, the body temperature rises to about 138oF and is initially too hot to touch. Heating destroys the body's proteins and "bakes" the organs.
Physical reactions include heaving chest, gurgles, foaming at the mouth, bloody sweat, burning of the hair and skin, and release of faeces.
The body has to be allowed to cool before an autopsy can be performed.
According to Robert H. Kirschner, the deputy chief medical examiner of Cook County, Illinois, "The brain appears cooked in most cases."
According to Judge Brennan, the prisoner's eyeballs sometimes pop out and rest on his cheeks. The prisoner often defecates, urinates, vomits blood and drool. The body turns bright red as its temperature rises, and the prisoner's flesh swells and his skin stretches to the point of breaking. Sometimes the prisoner catches on fire, particularly if he perspires excessively. Witnesses hear a loud and sustained sound like bacon frying, and the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh permeates the chamber.
There is some debate about what the electrocuted prisoner experiences before he dies, many doctors believe that he feels himself being burned to death and suffocating, since the shock causes respiratory paralysis as well as cardiac arrest. According to Harold Hillman, "It must feel very similar to the medieval trial by ordeal of being dropped in boiling oil." Because the energy of the shock paralyses the prisoner's muscles, he cannot cry out. "My mouth tasted like cold peanut butter. I felt a burning in my head and my left leg, and I jumped against the straps," Willie Francis, a 17-year-old who survived an attempted execution in 1946, is reported to have said. Francis was successfully executed a year later.



You will note that the 2 minutes for death to occur is only an average, not an upper limit.  In any case, it is not clear what is meant by death, but I suspect it is probably defined (as historically it probably would have been) as the cessation of heart activity, and takes no account of the fact that brain death may not be simultaneous with heart death.



George
 

Offline Andy28

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #47 on: 16/09/2006 21:20:37 »
Thanks for the link. I personally don't think we should worry about how long it takes for unconciousness to occur. Lets not forget the victims of the chair put themselves in it by breaking the laws of the state. I have no sympathy for them and the lethal injection is a joke.
 

another_someone

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #48 on: 16/09/2006 21:57:47 »
quote:
Originally posted by Andy28
Thanks for the link. I personally don't think we should worry about how long it takes for unconciousness to occur. Lets not forget the victims of the chair put themselves in it by breaking the laws of the state. I have no sympathy for them and the lethal injection is a joke.



Whether you think that the victims of the electric chair deserve their fate or not is a moral judgement, and the issue I was questioning was the scientific arguments.

As to whether the death penalty, in whatever form, actually achieves any reduction in crime, or if it is even intended to reduce crime rates, is a matter that may be debated in a scientific context (even if with a great number of caveats), but whether someone deserves something or not is not a scientific issue at all.



George
 

Offline Andy28

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Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #49 on: 17/09/2006 13:08:57 »
Sorry lol i thought this was a death row discussion forum - I've just relised it's about science! Whoops.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Inventor of the Electric Chair
« Reply #49 on: 17/09/2006 13:08:57 »

 

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