Wireless electricity

About ten years ago, I started driving my friends crazy with the idea of wireless electricity. This idea sprang mostly from an annoyance for electrical outlets and electrical cords. Why can’t I just place an electronic device at point X and have the electricity streamed to it through the air – with no need for messy cords.

A couple of years ago, MIT announced that they had been able to successfully transmit electricity wirelessly (which they call WiTricity). On the day this news came out, I received about a dozen emails from friends who declared that I was not, indeed, crazy. Well, I wasn’t crazy for this particular reason, at least.

It turns out that this concept had been around for quite a while, completely unbeknownst to me. The researchers at MIT were able to wirelessly power a 60 watt light bulb from a distance of seven feet. This might not sound particularly impressive (and, indeed, most “proof of concept” experiments don’t have a great deal of immediate real world application) but I look forward to a future where electric cars may be recharged wirelessly, as they zip down the interstate at 70 mph.

Air cars

Have you ever filled a balloon with air, and then let go of the balloon, watching it flying crazily around the room as the power of the compressed air provides energy for its journey?

There are currently at least four car companies that are working on cars that would be powered by compressed air. For the environmentally conscious people, the air car would have zero emissions (since it emits only air). Note that the environmentally impact could be greater than the car’s emissions, as other sources of energy would be required to compress the air.

The air cars would be cheaper to manufacture, because they could eliminate many costly components that are found in internal combustions engines.

At this point, the air cars are still in the early stages. There are currently concerns about the safety of the cars (since the manufacturers attempt to make them light to decrease the power requirements) and lackluster range.

Super Man

Frenchman Yves jumped out of a plane on the French side of the English Channel and soared 22 miles across the channel on his jet-propelled wing at a speed of more than two miles per minute. The wing carries seven gallons of fuel (getting about 3 mpg) and weights in at a svelte 120 pounds when fully fueled (stop for a second and think about how much the fuel weighs).

Rossy dreams of one day making a consumer model of his device. When he does, I’ll be the first one in line. Assuming, of course, that I can afford one. We can all dream, right?

Wikipedia was used as a source for he WiTricity and air car sections. Popular Science (February 2009) was used as a source for the Superman section)