I commented on a question on Skeptics.SE that it would be an interesting question whether there is a charge difference between ground and our head. The question is not very relevant, but here it is anyway: https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/26942/does-putting-our-head-to-the-ground-remove-positive-electromagnetic-charges

I am not sure how far-fetched it is. I imagine there are isolators between ground and our head (shoes, socks, skin maybe??), but then again, our body being mainly composed of water is probably a good conductor.

So, is there an electrical potential between our head and ground, let's say on average? And how big is it?


The Earth's surface is negatively charged and the ionosphere is positively charged.

This results in a downward electric field of strength of the order of 100V/m at the Earth's surface. This is the "fair weather" value and assumes that there are no conductors close by.

Well you are a fairly good conductor of electricity and so when you stand on the ground in an open field some excess negative charges will reside on your head in order to make your body an equipotential volume. So the potential difference across you will be zero.

The fact that your head is more curved than the surface of the Earth means that the surface charge density on your head and the electric field strength around your head will be greater than that on the surface of the Earth. The hair on your head will also cause local fluctuations in the local surface charge density.

Whether the charge on your head affect you in fair weather I do not know but you would be foolish to stand in the middle of a field when lightning is present as you would act as a fairly good lightning conductor.
Lightning conductors are designed to increase the chances of lightning striking them.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.