Notes

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LGV Rota and the death penalty

LGV Rota's son was quite surprised to learn recently by browsing the internet that his father's work was referenced by at least 2 US court:

28 L.G.V. Rota, a renowned French electrical scientist, concluded after extensive research that
"[i]n every case of electrocution, . . . death inevitably supervenes but it may be very long, and above all, excruciatingly painful . . . . [T]he space of time before death supervenes varies according to the subject. Some have a greater physiological resistance than others. I do not believe that anyone killed by electrocution dies instantly, no matter how weak the [471 U.S. 1080 , 1089] subject may be. In certain cases death will not have come about even though the point of contact of the electrode with the body shows distinct burns. Thus, in particular cases, the condemned person may be alive and even conscious for several minutes without it being possible for a doctor to say whether the victim is dead or not. . . . This method of execution is a form of torture." 29
  • Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
http://www.nodp.org/ma/stacks/369_Mass_242.txt
While the actual physical and psychological pain of execution itself is, of course, immeasurable, there is a sharp conflict of expert opinion regarding whether electrocution produces instantaneous loss of consciousness. At least one observer, a French scientist, concluded: "I do not believe that anyone killed by electrocution dies instantly, no matter how weak the subject may be." Comment, The Death Penalty Cases, 56 Cal. L. Rev. 1268, 1339 (1968), quoting Prof. L. G. V. Rota in Scott, [***14]

Ground Induced Current

On March 13, 1989, at 2:44 am, a transformer failure on one of the main power transmission lines in the Hydro Quebec system precipitated a catastrophic collapse of the entire power grid. The string of events that produced the collapse took only 90 seconds from start to finish. There was no time for any meaningful intervention. The transformer failure was a direct consequence of ground induced currents from a space weather disturbance high in the atmosphere. 6 million people lost electrical power for 9 or more hours. The space weather disturbance that produced this devastation was a great magnetic storm. Great magnetic storms are awesome disturbances in the near-Earth space environment that occur relatively rarely. The last five occurred in February 1986, March 1989, March 1991, November 1991 and May 1992.