That's interesting. Never would have thought of that.
Anyway, after researching online and taking a close look at the motherboard, I could see that some of the transistors/capacitors were discolored and appeared to have swelled up and discharged something. There was also a burnt smell that I noticed just shortly before the computer blanked out. This was consistent with what I read about Dell's XPS 600 machines having failure-prone motherboards.
I decided to abandon it and purchase a new computer. The hard drive was unaffected by all this so I'm able to retrieve my data without too much difficulty.