On batteries that suck..

As part of a discussion with my friend deadman the other night, the subject of how much batteries suck came up.

Now, as many of you know, I’m a strong proponent of plug-in EVs, rechargables instead of primary cells, and in general a battery kind of guy. However, I will be the first to admit that batteries suck. What’s astonishing is how *much* they suck.

I got into this line of thinking because I was musing about how much energy (tens of kilowatt-hours) each  of us keeps stored. 1 kg of fat = approximately 10 kwh,which means 2 kg of fat – 4.4 pounds for you non-metric types – contains as much power as the traction pack of my car. Which weighs, let’s see, approximately 700 lbs.  Hm. 4.4 lbs != 700 lbs.

It’s easy to see why people are pushing for fuel cells, but really hard to see why they’re pushing for platinum based ones. As deadman pointed out, perhaps what we need – and I’m sure there are thousands of people working on this, and also that by the time I could learn enough about it to contribute anything useful it would be solved – is a enzyme-catalized room-temp fuel cell.

My mother (who believes we were created by a perfect creator)  is probably gloating about how our bodies beat our best rechargable energy systems by a factor of 100 right now, and I can’t really blame her. Our RNA and DNA data storage also beats our best hard drives by several orders of magnitude, so it’s not like this is exactly suprising. We’re not really inventing new technology so much as trying to find ways to duplicate what’s already in our bodies in ways that we can control and debug.

(although, in all fairness, the signalling rate of our nervious systems is way, way slower than the internet. Probably. )

5 Responses to “On batteries that suck..”

  1. ClintJCL Says:

    Get this — a load of sperm carries only 20 megabytes — our data compression kicks ass.

  2. sheer_panic Says:

    Pretty sure that’s not true. Every sperm carries one-half of the complete DNA strand. I haven’t yet heard anyone give a estimate for total data payload for DNA, but the base-pairs alone are 4 gigabytes. Hence every sperm carries 2 gigs of data, and they aren’t always (I don’t think) the *same* 2 gigs of data, otherwise it wouldn’t matter which one hit the egg, you’d always get the same life. Pretty sure a load of sperm is several terabytes.

  3. ClintJCL Says:

    It wasn’t conjecture. It was the result of scientific research. I’d love to dig up the link, and I could have sworn I posted about it, but my blogsearch and my del.icio.us links search brings back nothing for sperm+megabyte.

  4. ClintJCL Says:

    Here it is! And um.. no.. it’s not “scientific research” as I said before… I guess the truth is, nobody really knows. But using their calculations:

    Human ejaculate = 20.14MB.
    Human body = 34.18 exabytes.

    Here is the original article:


    and of course there are dissenting comments 🙂

  5. Cygnostik Says:

    I gotta say I really like that writeup though I’m low enough on time I could barely skim over it – I sure chuckled a couple times. Good stuff. On the other hand I think it was 1) lacking a lot of data on which to base what he was writing about and 2) The numbers seemed way off… there’s some other stuff… but anyway. Great link!

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