Last night a man reportedly was killed while peeing on the third rail of the G train in Brooklyn, leading to a renewed debate over the myth that one can actually kill oneself by taking a leak on the super electrified subway track. The report from the New York Post suggests that the man indeed died because his pee came in contact with the deadly rail. "A drunken man was electrocuted and killed relieving himself on the third rail in Brooklyn this morning, sources said," reads the report. But, both the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and law enforcement officials have denied a "whiz-3rd rail connection" to the Wall Street Journal's transportation reporter Tedd Man. So, it sounds more like the man fell while peeing onto the third rail and then got electrocuted and died. But, that doesn't mean it's not possible to die in such a manner. We investigate.
The idea behind the myth makes scientific sense: an electrical current could travel up the stream of urine through one's penis, thus causing a jolt. Or, as a couple of New York City kids put it to a homeless man on the verge of peeing to his death: "Your dick will get blasted, bro." A Yahoo answers commenter also insists the risk is serious, real, and terrifying: "Electricity can arc across gaps in your pee and zap you right in the nuts. Penile electrocution is very painful. And if the electrical current is sustained, your testicles will explode."