We feel shock due to electrostatic discharge sometimes.
My question is this shock due to the flow of electrons or just our reaction to the heat generated due to the breakdown of the material.
As why I don't get shocked when I touch my car with my keys and why only one person gets shocked when two people touch.


You feel the shock, because nerves are electrical conductors connected to the brain. The static discharge is a high voltage event with enough power to send electrical signals along the dendrites (input nerves) to the neurons in your head, to trigger and overwhelm them. The heat production is irrelevant, because the amount of heat generated is negligible and doesn't noticeably change the temperature of your body.

One person gets shocked stronger, because the neurons trigger on a specific polarity. However, this is a complex process, so both do feel the discharge to a certain extent.

A car has a large conductive mass. It would take a lot of charge to raise the potential of a car hundreds or thousands of volts above the ground and keep it from dissipating. It is possible though, as under certain conditions wheels could potentially act as Van de Graaf generators. Sometimes you can see a thin strip of conducting rubber hanging behind a car to ground the body against charges and prevent sparks that could ignite gasoline.

  • $\begingroup$ I had a doubt, should the second conductor (the one we are touching) necessarily be grounded for ESD to happen? $\endgroup$ – elle Oct 31 '17 at 23:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @elle No, a discharge can happen between any two conductors. If one is charged more than the other, when they touch, the charge will move from the one charged more to the one charged less until the charge evens out. For example, when two people touch each other, neither one may be grounded, but if one is charged, a discharge may happen. The charged object may not even be a conductir per se, like a plastic comb. $\endgroup$ – safesphere Nov 1 '17 at 0:01

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