The Darwin Awards

1999 Darwin Awards

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Honoring Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool--by removing themselves from it.

Gone Fishin'
1999 Darwin Award Winner
Confirmed True by Darwin

(25 May 1999, Ukraine) A fisherman in Kiev electrocuted himself while fishing in the river Tereblya. The 43-year-old man connected cables to the main power supply of his home, and trailed the end into the river. The electric shock killed the fish, which floated belly-up to the top of the water. The man waded in to collect his catch, neglecting to remove the live wire, and tragically suffered the same fate as the fish.

In an ironic twist, the man was fishing for a mourning meal to commemorate the first anniversary of his mother-in-law's death.

In a related story, on January 9 the China Post reported that a 23-year-old Pingtung man died after eating fish he poisoned in a nearby ditch. Three days of diarrhea and vomiting led to his demise after he ate fish he caught by pouring toxic chemicals in the water at the suggestion of friends.
China Post - Taiwan January 8, 2001

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Submitted by: Michael Jacobson, Jeremy Fletcher, Rashawn White, John M

Reference: Deutsche Press-Agentur, Bloomberg news Source

Michael J. Weed says, "This is not possible. Unless he were touching the wire it seems unlikely he would have shocked himself, because fresh water does not conduct electricity. You can test this yourself! Fill a plastic pop bottle with fresh water and poke a nail in each end. Attach a battery to one end and a flashlight bulb to the other. You will see that it does NOT light up. Open the bottle and add a lot of salt, and try again -- now it DOES light up. No salt, no ions, no conduit."

Darwin responds, "How much salt would the river need? You can often taste salinity even miles upstream from a river's mouth on the ocean. Does anyone live near the River Tereblya, who can perform Michael's lightbulb test?"

Colin contributes "Completely pure water has a resistivity of 182kOhm-m2/m but river water can have a resistivity 100-3000 times lower than this value. Given a domestic supply voltage of 230V, a best case resistivity of 1.82kOhm-m2/m and the wires a metre apart in a river with a cross sectional area of 1 metre squared, the current produced would be 126 milliamps which is more than enough to kill. Ukranian rivers are not renowned for their cleanliness, so the resistivity is likely to be much lower than this example and therefore the potential currents much higher."

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