The State of Wireless Electricity – Will We be Able to Power Devices from Thin Air?

wireless electricity

The Economist round-up various wireless electricity projects, most of which focus on “ambient” energy from “existing radio waves produced by television, radio and mobile-phone transmitters.”

The first devices to be powered entirely by ambient energy are likely to be sensors, calculators and clocks. But the hope is that music-players, e-readers and mobile phones will eventually follow, says Dr Smith. There are other means of harvesting ambient energy, from vibrations, movement or heat. But the attraction of radio waves is that they are pretty much everywhere. It’s like recycling energy, says Dr Fisher. “It’s energy that’s around, and is not doing anything else,” he says.

The Economist: Power from thin air

S?o Paulo homeless group claiming abandoned buildings

squate in sao paulo

The Prestes Maia building in downtown S?o Paulo, abandoned for 12 years, had become a haven for drugs and prostitution. Then, in 2002, more than 400 homeless families, in cooperation with a local group called the Downtown Homeless Movement, occupied the 22-story building. Conditions were crowded and difficult-the building lacks electricity and running water-but residents established a free library, cinema, and educational and social activities.

The Brazilian Constitution recognizes the right to housing and states that all property must serve a ‘social function.’ But in S?o Paulo, where slums and homelessness are common, an estimated 400,000 housing units are unused. The Downtown Homeless Movement, which has reclaimed more than 30 buildings in S?o Paulo, is just one of many groups reclaiming abandoned buildings across Brazil. At Prestes Maia, residents have fought eviction with protests, road blockades, and legal battles. After years of struggle, they have won either new housing or assistance from the government.

From: Yes Magazine.

(via Hit and Run).

Life extention myths debunked

At the end of her essay, Schaub worries about decreased fertility; that healthy oldsters would be less interested in reproducing. A first response is: so what? Shouldn’t the decision to have children be up to individuals? After all, already countries with the highest life expectancies have the lowest levels of fertility. A lack of interest in progeny could have the happy side effect of addressing the possibility that radically increased human lifespans might lead to overpopulation. No one can know for sure, but it could well be that bearing and rearing children would eventually interest long-lived oldsters who would come to feel that they had the time and the resources to do it right. Since assisted reproductive techniques will extend procreation over many decades, people who can look forward to living and working for hundreds of years will be able to delay and stretch out the period of parenthood.


Callahan’s demand that all problems that doubled healthy lifespans might cause be solved in advance is just silly. Humanity did not solve all of the problems caused by the introduction of farming, electricity, automobiles, antibiotics, sanitation, and computers in advance. We proceeded by trial and error and corrected problems as they arose. We should be allowed do the same thing with any new age-retardation techniques that biomedical research may develop.

Full Story: Cato Unbound.

Business 2.0: Burning Man grows up

Each Burning Man has a different theme, chosen by Harvey. This year’s theme is “The Green Man.” Burning Man, an extravaganza characterized by the consumption of huge quantities of fossil fuel, has discovered environmentalism. It is attempting to offset the 28,000 tons of carbon it estimates the event generates (counting all those flights and long drives for its far-flung attendees), and the organization is belatedly switching to biodiesel generators to provide most of the event’s electricity.

Most controversially, the organization wants to bring as many green-energy companies as possible into what Harvey calls a world’s fair of clean tech. Google (Charts, Fortune 500) is going to help produce an online 3-D search service called Burning Man Earth.

Full Story: Business 2.0.

For those seeking a small, free alternative, Autonomous Mutant Fest starts this weekend. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m going to make it down there this year, but I believe Nick Pell and some other esoZone/Portland Occulture folks will be on hand.

A Chronology of Communication from Electricity to Electronics

From the telegraph to NBC’s regular television broadcasts. Also links to: Chronology of Communication after electronics to 1998, Chronology of communication before electricity, and a Convoluted History of Early Telecommunications.

Everything2: A Chronology of Communication from Electricity to Electronics

Power Boots

SRI International and the Defense Department are developing these boots that will convert the electric power of walking into electricity that can be used to charge batteries. This sounds like a great way to use energy more efficiently:

At the heart, or rather sole, of the experimental foot-ware is a heel made of a special elastic polymer. A tiny battery positively charges one side of the flexible material and the other negatively. As the material is compressed and released — such as by the foot pressure generated during walking — the distance between the positive and negative sides change, which in turn creates electricity.

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