Among the many lessons to be found in the Bible, prominent among them is "Look, but don't touch." When an Israelite named Uzzah laid hands upon the Ark of The Covenant, he was struck down by God. But, in 1933, an engineering professor theorized that the real cause of death was 10,000 volts of static electricity.
According to an article that appeared in the March 5th, 1933 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune, Frederick Rogers, the Dean of the Department of Engineering at the Lewis Institute of Technology, conducted a careful study of the construction of the Ark as described in the Bible, and concluded that its design matched a perfectly constructed simple electric condenser:
The scientiﬁc interest in the construction pointed out by Prof. Rogers was that the acacia wood box—about 40 inches long and slightly less than 30 inches in width and in depth—not only was lined with gold teal on the inside but overlaid with the some metal without.
This, according to Prof. Rogers, is the first step that any modern boy with a ﬂare for electrical experimentation will take to create a Leyden jar, except that in the Leyden jar, a glass receptacle is coated on the inside and outside with tin foil instead of gold. Then, with the aid of a rod with a small knob at the top and a short chain at the bottom which is inserted through the cork so that the chain can make contact with the bottom of the jar, the young experimenter is ready to collect small charges of bottled lighting.
But the Ark of the Covenant was a much larger condenser….The divine directions called for the creation of two cherubim of pure gold to be placed on a gold slab or "mercy seat" overtop the Ark. These cherubim, Prof. Rogers explained, made up what he believes to have been the positive pole of the circuit.
He explained…that it is known among physicists that a "difference of potential" exists between the earth and the air which may be collected in electrical charges under certain favorable conditions…It was explained that even slight movements of heat rising in smoke—such as from burning sacrifices or even incense—would distribute lesser charges of static electricity….This, Prof. Rogers explained, may have accounted for the collecting of bolts powerful enough to cause death.
The question of whether it was sufficient to melt Nazi's faces was not addressed.