DIY Ark of the Covenant

Fortean Times has posted an interesting article considering whether the biblical Ark of the Covenant, famed for wreaking havoc on the Nazis in Raiders of the Los Ark, could have been a kind of massive battery. The writers make the case that the Ark may have been the ancient equivalent of a Leyden Jar, a prototypical capacitor invented in the 18th century. From the article, titled "Re-Engineering The Ark":

Using the example of the 500gm-coffee jar-sized Leyden Jar, and assuming that this could store a charge of approximately 200 volts, the Ark would have held the equivalent of 125 such jars, giving it a comparable, if not greater, potential voltage, as well as, more importantly, allowing for a much longer discharge time. Such a level of voltage goes a long way to explaining the reasons for the Arks more evolved design.

The most obvious difference is the use of twin terminals on the Ark. There are no problems with this configuration, other than ensuring good connection and isolation of each terminal, but there are some very good reasons for it. Because of its size, and the relation of capacity to charge, it would not be possible to touch the Ark by hand or with any form of implement to discharge it. The Ark would have carried a charge of thousands of volts, and because the human body is a better conductor than air, it would have killed anyone who got too close to it. Sound familiar?

...If the Ark was placed inside the Temple (in effect a large conductive box) and discharged, the result would be disappointing. There would be no spectacular effects, just the barely discernible glow of a few sparks and a loud crack. Why go to all this trouble to create the Temple if this was the end result? There must be some other, less obvious factor involved. The natural assumption to make is that the entire interior structure, and everything in it, would become live if the Ark put several thousand volts into the walls. But the Ark is the only crucial part of the Temple that is earthed, so it would operate normally if it were charged – any discharge would occur between the two cherubim, not the walls or pillars.

The answer to this problem is in the opposite principle – the Ark is not the source of the charge, the Temple is.

Link

UPDATE: BB reader Pawel Szymczykowski points out that the Mythbusters explored this concept a bit on TV. Link And there were other before them too. Link