08 Jan Asking science: how dangerous is Pikachu?
You know Pikachu, right? He’s been all over the TV and internet for the last decade. The most famous Pokémon of all looks innocent with his red cheeks and yellow fur, but he’s (literally) shockingly powerful. So how lethal is Pikachu – according to science?
Shock value: the danger of currents
Pikachu attacks his enemies with electricity. His main fighting move is Thunderbolt (Pokémon power: 90), which delivers a whopping 100,000 Volts. Sounds pretty painful, right? But actually, it’s not the voltage of electric shocks that causes the damage – it’s the current. A current of just 0.1 Amps can kill you.
Electricity actually kills you if a current of just 7 milliamps reaches the heart for about 3 seconds. The weak link in this situation is just the heart: it loses it’s rhythm and everything shuts down. So that’s why some people survive an electrocution. They’re very lucky with what path the current takes through their body.
Pickachu’s deadly Thunderbolt
Ohm’s law states: I (current) = V (voltage)/R (resistance). Now take Pikachu’s Thunderbolt move:
- Thunderbolt’s voltage is 100,000 Volts (according to it’s Japanese name)
- Your (dry) body’s resistance is about 100,000 Ohms
- That means he hits you with a current of (100,000/100,000=) 1 Amp, which is 10 times the generally deadly dose of Amps.
So yeah, that cute little mouse can zap the living daylights out of you.
More lethal manoeuvres
Pikachu has 2 other fighting moves:
- Thundershock (Pokémon power: 40)
- Volt Tackle (Pokémon power: 120).
Thundershock delivers 44,000 Volts, electrocuting you with a current of 0.44 Amps. Not as powerful as Thunderbolt, but still pretty lethal!
Volt Tackle is a little more complicated. With this move, Pikachu electrifies himself and then tackles you. A regular tackle has a Pokémon power of 50, so an electrically charged Pikachu has a power of (120 – 50 =) 70 – between Thundershock and Thunderbolt. So Volt Tackle will kill you too, even if you avoid being tackled and just get electrocuted.
How to defend yourself
It’s clear: according to science, you’re probably screwed if you ever get in a fight with Pikachu. But there are ways to defend yourself! For example:
- Avoid water – it decreases your body’s resistance (that’s why Water-type Pokémons are especially vulnerable to electric fighting moves)
- Wear rubber – it increases your body’s resistance (that’s why Team Rocket uses rubber gloves when they try to kidnap Pikachu)
- Develop a move to deflect Pikachu’s electricity right back to him – to use his power on himself
- Protect your heart: If we could just build a cage of Faraday around the heart, we’d be okay! (If we wouldn’t burn)
If I ever encounter a Pikachu – fingers crossed! – I’ll just put on a full rubber suit so I can hug that cute killermouse! What would you do? Let me know in the comments!