The World’s Craziest Electricians
It’s fairly safe to say that the majority of us don’t work with the daily risk of electrocution should we fail to perform in our jobs. But being an electrician, working in one of the most dangerous professions in the world, means that even the smallest lapse in concentration can be disastrous.
If working with live electrical wires wasn’t hazardous enough, we’ve put together a list of some of the world’s craziest; a list of fearless electricians and insane individuals who have achieved some extraordinary things working with electricity.
Electricians in Vietnam
You might have thought that, given the dangerous nature of the job, electricians would follow a strict operating procedure to make any future repairs that little bit easier to carry out.
Well, apparently this just isn’t the case. Or at least, not in Vietnam, where the electrical power infrastructure looks more like something you might pull out of a clogged drain; an outrageous tangled mess of wires that stretch in all directions.
Rummaging around on all fours trying to hook up a new television is bad enough, so how any Vietnamese electrician ever manages to complete a job on time (and complete it safely) is beyond rational comprehension. You’d need the patience of a saint to work on something like this, day in day out.
With wiring like this it’s no wonder the country experiences to many blackouts.
…and in China
After weeks of training, one Chinese electrician ascended a rope ladder to reach the top of an electricity pylon, then slowly shimmied himself along the live 660kv power lines to arrive at the faulty component he’d been sent up to fix.
Whether it’s your morbid curiosity or a love of electrical voltage statistics that compels you to know, the shock you’d receive from a 660kv power line blowing up in your face is around 2870 times stronger than anything you’re likely to receive from poking around with a knife in your plug sockets at home.
Taking weeks of rigorous preparation, the risky operation was said to have been the very first of its kind, and I’m sure the electrician responsible for the repairs hopes it’ll be the last.
Electricians working on the Eiffel tower
Not as fortunate as our safety-harnessed electrician from China, electricians of old didn’t have health and safety legislation to rely on to ensure their safety in the workplace. So what happened when the Eiffel Tower needed some re-wiring work?
Well, the electricians just sort of took care of it… and did it with a smile.
These two French electricians were snapped in 1937, working high above Paris – and with no visible sign of any safety precautions being taken whatsoever.
In fairness, these electricians probably had families to feed, and not working at these heights, un-harnessed, repairing electrical wiring on one of the world’s most famous landmarks probably wasn’t an option for them. What the photographer was doing up there with them is anybody’s guess.
Electricians… in space?
OK, so let’s first try and forget about how crazy you’d have to be to agree to go to space in the first place, and instead turn our attention to the practicalities of handing fiddly electrical wires whilst wearing large, cumbersome space gloves… in zero gravity – because this is exactly what the electricians who serviced the Hubble Space Telescope had to contend with.
Hubble was launched in 1990, and in the 22 years it’s been orbiting the earth it’s been serviced five times by highly-trained, completely insane astro-electricians who were rocketed up to perform repairs on failed components and make improvements to its telescopic abilities.
It’s difficult enough just to get an electrician to come round and re-wire a plug your living room, so we’re not sure how NASA managed to convince a team to service a telescope floating in space.
It seems like a bit of death wish, to combine the jobs roles of two of the most dangerous professions in the world – but then again, since open flames can’t exist in the vacuum of space, I guess their work was made a little safer. Sort of.
Electricians or artists?
If dancing and fighting each other stood atop large raised pedestals wasn’t good enough, these two crazy performers have added a dangerous other element to their show: electricity.
Coupled with an impressive light show the two men each clamber up their respective platforms (which are actually enormous Tesla coils) and impress the crowds watching anxiously below as they exploit the natural theatrics of high-voltage alternating-current electricity.
Invented by Nikola Tesla in 1891, the Tesla coils generate extremely high voltages, and if they’re not carefully adjusted to the right levels can result in a powerful electrical spark being thrown out, which is easily capable of destroying nearby objects. So, if you ever find yourself at one of their shows, you might want to stand a little further towards the back…
To avoid being completely engulfed in flames themselves, the two wear special metal-suits, which act as Faraday cages, causing the electric currents to flow on the outer surface of the suit before going into the earth.
Up until now, ‘crazy’ has been used as a sort of ‘catch-all’ denoting fearlessness, bravery and stupidity, but the reason why Thomas Edison makes our list is pure, unadulterated crazy.
The reason? For electrocuting an elephant.
Topsy was a circus elephant, belonging to the Forepaugh Circus in the early 20th century. Regularly abused by her handlers she occasionally lashed out. After killing three men over the course of three years (her trainer, who used to enjoy trying to feed her lit cigarettes, being one of them), it was decided that Topsy was a threat, unfit to continue life working in the circus and should be killed.
Ready to offer a helping hand Edison, one of the world’s most famous inventors, quickly devised a method for killing the elephant (which was originally going to be hanged until the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals stepped in).
Back in the days before electricity was in every home, debate over which electric power distribution method to use got quite heated, and Edison used Topsy’s death as a publicity campaign to discredit his rival, George Westinghouse.
The two men didn’t see eye to eye. Edison promoted the use of direct-current while Westinghouse backed the use of alternating-current. Edison decided to electrocute Topsy with a system based on the principles of alternating-current to ‘prove’ to the world how dangerous it was.
After being fed carrots laced with cyanide Topsy was shackled, had wooden sandals with copper electrodes placed on her feet, and then received a lethal bout of 6,600 volts worth of AC electricity. And all to prove a point.
Rajmohan ‘Electricity Man’ Nair
India’s Rajmohan Nair is a curious case. No one can really say why, or how, but it appears that Raj is actually resistant to electricity, capable of conducting high voltage electricity though his body without causing himself any harm.
An electrician by trade, Raj is said to be able to withstand an electric shock thirty times more powerful than the amount it would take to kill an ordinary man. Recognising his bizarre talent, he’s even developed a few little party tricks.
With one end of a wire connected to the plug socket in his home, Raj then completes an electrical circuit to power a light bulb by holding the exposed ends of two wires to his tongue. He doesn’t stop with just the light bulb however, he also powers an electric fan, a food blender, and can heat a hotplate sufficient to cook and egg.
Spare a thought: a few bad cases…
The worst possible way to change a light bulb?
We’re not entirely sure what this man was thinking, using three step-ladders and two planks of wood to service a light fitting. There must surely have been a better, safer alternative method available. Notice how close one of his ‘supporting planks’ is to the edge of the stair… This could have been very nasty.
A monkey electrician?
How or why the monkey managed to get itself into this situation isn’t exactly clear. What’s disturbing is that it looks to be holding an exposed, live electrical wire. I just hope he knows what he’s doing.
We’re really not sure what’s going on here. Even the monkey made more sense than this.