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kottke.org posts about electricity

In the dark

posted by Tim Carmody   Jun 08, 2018

Rebecca Boyle writes about her daughter’s first power outage:

“It’s too dark in here. Mommy, I want you to turn my nightlight back on, please,” my daughter said matter-of-factly.

I realized I needed to explain. This was not her first power outage — ah, aging St. Louis utility lines — but it was the first one she would experience, as opposed to ignoring as an oblivious infant. I wondered what it must feel like to suddenly go without a thing you have never lacked. It would be weird to be bereft of something so ever-present, it is practically a nutrient. A thing you can’t really understand but have never been unable to access, since the second you arrived in your own skin.

On Twitter, Rebecca notes that her essay is also not-so-covertly about the tragic inevitability of death, and so forth. A power outage is definitely a strong metaphor for thinking about death: it happens suddenly, inevitably, disruptively, and repeatedly, but each time feels uncanny and fresh. And as much as you’d like to just wait it out, there’s always work to do: someone has to get the children to sleep, someone has to pump the water out of the basement.

Power stations of the future…

posted by Aaron Cohen   Aug 06, 2010

From the past. It doesn’t take much to look at this book and imagine the pitch meeting at how Sterling Cooper Draper Price would pitch this.

power stations of the future

In 1964 United States Steel called upon the nation’s electric utility companies to reconsider the current look of our power stations and transmission towers to be both functional and beautiful. Two years later, Henry Dreyfuss and Associates were commissioned to investigate possible design alternatives, and I believe they were documented in a book entitled “Power Styling” which was produced by United States Steel in the mid-to-late 1960s.

(Thanks, Wendy!)

Conductive ink

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 12, 2009

Bare is a skin-safe conductive ink that you can paint on your body to create “custom electronic circuitry”.

This innovative material allows users to interact with electronics through gesture, movement, and touch. Bare can be applied with a brush, stamp or spray and is non-toxic and temporary. Application areas include dance, music, computer interfaces, communication and medical devices. Bare is an intuitive and non-invasive technology which will allow users to bridge the gap between electronics and the body.

It hurts when I pee

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 17, 2009

From a German book called Elektroschutz in Bildern, a collection of illustrations detailing a number of ways that people can get electrocuted and the path that the electricity takes through their bodies.

Pee Electric

Photo by Bre Pettis. (via jacket mechanical)

Conducting plastic

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 17, 2008

When two plastics (polymers TTF and TCNQ) are placed atop one another, a thin strip forms that conducts electricity “as well as a metal”.

The TTF-TCNQ interface conducts electricity much better than standard semiconductors. “The electron concentration there is an order of magnitude higher,” Mannhart says. “That has the power to create new effects, from magnetism to superconductivity.”

Scientists in Singapore have developed a battery

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 08, 2005

Scientists in Singapore have developed a battery powered by urine. Urine is rich in ions and ions are what make electricity go whoosh. (thx jeff)