If this question had been worded like this:

"Is it physically plausible that a lightning strike could make your sweat boil and cause your clothes to explode off your body"

would it still have been closed?

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    $\begingroup$ I think the answer to the general question is a resounding "yes", and that this isn't really a problem. $\endgroup$ – Danu Dec 22 '14 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ But closing questions is fun! $\endgroup$ – user21433 Dec 23 '14 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ @SeanD: The fact that that's funny to you hurts me right in the physics. $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Dec 23 '14 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielSank I think overzealous editing is a "big problem" (see: Wikipedia) and it hurts me to see it too. $\endgroup$ – user21433 Dec 26 '14 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ What is meant by "OP"? $\endgroup$ – Sushant23 Dec 28 '14 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Sushant23: It means "original post" or "person who made the original post". $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Dec 28 '14 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ This question seems more appropriate on what-if.xkcd.com and I'd actually be interested in reading the article there. $\endgroup$ – Michael McGriff Dec 30 '14 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ A plane crash can leave you naked. Survivors of the first autopilot had their 'clothes divested by the force of the crash' hahaha john.hultgren.org/trivia/mile_high_club.html $\endgroup$ – Colonel Panic Dec 31 '14 at 11:10

The problem with questions like this is that they're like asking can an elephant fly? The answer is yes if you're allowed to start at the top of a cliff and your definition of flight includes trajectories normal to the ground.

The point is that the question is not answerable from first principles in any useful way. You might say yes your clothes could be blown off if you were coated in a continuous film of sweat with a high enough conductivity and there was enough power in the lightning to vaporise all the sweat and your clothes were impermeable enough for a high pressure to be built up. But that doesn't tell us anything useful, hedged around as it is with numerous conditions.

The way to approach the question would be to examine actual lightning strikes to try and establish whether the phenomenon happened, and if so what factors were common to all occurrences. At this point it might be useful to approach a physicist and try to model the specific phenomena involved.

So I think Kyle's response is spot on. Post on the Skeptics SE in the hope someone can point you to the sort of evidence mentioned above. As it stands the question isn't appropriate here.

  • $\begingroup$ Indeed, as it stands it't not appropriate. The problem (again) is that the close reason does not actually say what is wrong with the post and, more importantly, it does not give the author a hint as to how to fix it. $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Dec 22 '14 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ Wait, do normal humans not define flight that way? $\endgroup$ – Jim Dec 22 '14 at 17:57
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    $\begingroup$ @DanielSank well, in cases that don't clearly fall under one of the standard close reasons, a bit of interaction in the comments is often necessary to explain why the post is off topic and how (and if) it can be made on topic. I don't think that's such a bad thing. $\endgroup$ – David Z Dec 22 '14 at 18:39
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    $\begingroup$ "trajectories normal to the ground" Hahaha! $\endgroup$ – Danu Dec 22 '14 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Jim 'normal' means a 90 degree angle, so by "normal to the ground" John means straight down. $\endgroup$ – bdsl Dec 22 '14 at 23:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Jim apologies for misunderstanding. $\endgroup$ – bdsl Dec 22 '14 at 23:37
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    $\begingroup$ Re: "The point is that the question is not answerable from first principles in any useful way [...]". I think it would be very interesting to see how to calculate something like this. I'd have no idea where to start. This has potential for a great answer, a la: "A typical lighting strike has a current of such-and-such, looked up [here]. Then you can model the person as a hollow tube of sweat and neglect the body itself. Heating of a liquid by a current is described by $f(x)$, but you have cooling by evaporation $g(x)$, and then you can calculate the force per area with $h(x)$". $\endgroup$ – jdm Dec 23 '14 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ @jdm: Hear hear! $\endgroup$ – DanielSank Dec 23 '14 at 18:35

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