There’s a video going around the internet that appears to show a boy in India illuminating light bulbs just by touching the conductor at the foot of the bulb. As far as super powers go, control of electricity is pretty cool. Lighting up LED light bulbs is less cool than blasting lightning bolts out of your eyes, but Abu Thahir is only nine years old. The boy’s got time to grow into a superhero (or supervillain, depending on his persuasion).
The video (which you can see here) shows Abu Thahir taking an LED light bulb and holding it in the palm of his hand. As soon as the bulb touches his skin it appears to power on magically, as if the light was coming from Abu himself. When Abu removes his hand the light goes off. He repeats this process several times and it looks genuine.
Nizar Thahir, Abu’s father and an electrician by trade, says that his son’s ability to light up LED bulbs was discovered after Nazir brought a bulb home from work. He handed it to his son and was surprised to see it light up whenever it was touched to Abu’s body.
Experts say it could be genuine, but it’s not magic. Abu’s ability only works with rechargeable LED light bulbs, meaning he’s not providing the power to the bulb, but using his body to conduct electricity, completing the light bulb’s circuit, and powering it on. A high salt content in the body can increase electrical conductivity, and Abu Thahir may have an unusually high salt content that allows him to act as a human circuit board.
It is worth noting that electricity—that is, the harnessing of the very building blocks of the universe to do things like bring light into darkness, communicate across the globe, and other fairly mind-blowing things—is what every high-fantasy novel system of magic is based on. In other words, no one will fault you for calling Nikola Tesla a wizard.
Claims of humans having strange relationships with electricity and electromagnetism are not new. A man (also in India) claimed that he could “eat” electricity instead of food, and then there’s Miroslaw Magnola, who says he can magnetize objects and lift them off the ground, and Slavisa Pajkic, who has an electrical resistance seven times that of the average person.
There’s a long list of people with traits and abilities that defy the ordinary. Having the right words—”electrical conductivity”—to describe a situation doesn’t make it any less strange, or any less magical in a sense. Remember, in just about every fantasy novel, wizards learn magic at wizard-school or as an apprentice, just like electricians.