Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wireless electricity

First off, I really, really am working. I just finished editing one paper and will soon start the next.

In the meantime, the front page of Yahoo had an article about Intel developing a wireless way to transmit electrical power. The problem in the past has always been how you transmit electricity without zapping everything in the way. There's a reason you don't stick your finger in the same sockets you stick a lamp plug into. The article describes previous efforts as basically hurling lightning bolts at things.

The key to making it possibly work is that it's electro-magnetism, not just electricity. Humans don't seem to be bothered by magnetic fields, so they convert the electric power into a magnetic pattern and throw it across the room. Intel demoed a 60W lamp powered on the stage with no cords.

This is potentially huge. Wire up an office building and you no longer have to plug in laptops, lights, etc. Just sit anywhere. Imagine one in your home garage with a hybrid electric - gas car. No going home and plugging the car in; your car will just grab the power from sitting in the garage. In the same vein, why not wire up the light poles along major highways to not just give out light, but wireless electricity. As your car drives along, the battery could be recharged as it goes. Or just from sitting in the mall parking garage while you shop. Would it ever my strong enough to replace electrical transmission lines? All the electricity poles could disappear with just sporadic relay stations. Could help enormously with alternative energy as well. With giant solar thermal plants in the desert, today you would have to run wires across the country to get the power out. But maybe this wireless stuff could send it all through the air.



writtenwyrdd said...

I have my doubts about this working without serious consequences to human health and the environment in general. There have been studies (recently confirmed) where cancer is greatly increased in the brains of those who use 1) shortwave and 2) cell phones. The shortwave study indicated (in the early 90s I believe) that the side of the brain closest to the HAM radio had a statistically significant increased rate of brain tumors.

I have the feeling that such a massive blast of electromagnetism could do things such as screw up migration, breeding patterns, and who knows what all else. And I felt lousy when I worked next door to a power substation, too, so I'd expect to have people react badly in general.

But I could be oh so wrong!

ChrisEldin said...

I agree with writtenwyrdd. We won't let our kids use cell phones.

But the idea of hurling lightening around sounds quite fun. Such a gizmo would fly off the shelves at Xmas time.

ChrisEldin said...

Oh--I also agree with Writtenwrddy about the power stations. When we were looking for a new house, that was on the top of my list to cross off any houses near a power station.

Sarah Laurenson said...

And yet they tell us not to have anything plugged in near the bed as the magnetic fields screw with our bodies and we don't get good sleep. Can you imagine working in a free flow magnetic field? I think I'll pass.