Thursday, October 04, 2007

Betavoltaic Shmetavoltaic: Suckas!

Betavoltaic battery

A laptop battery that will last 30 years? The story itself lives on the blood of common sense.

Two days ago, I caught a BoingBoing Gadget post about the Betavoltaic Battery. The story originates from NextEnergy News and says:
Your next laptop could have a continuous power battery that lasts for 30 years without a single recharge thanks to work being funded by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. The breakthrough betavoltaic power cells are constructed from semiconductors and use radioisotopes as the energy source. As the radioactive material decays it emits beta particles that transform into electric power capable of fueling an electrical device like a laptop for years.
Amazing? You bet. BoingBoing's admonition? Horseshit!

My thoughts exactly.

As Joel Johnson noted, if the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory was seriously working on something this commercially viable, something we'd see on store shelves in 2 to 3 years, they'd probably have it on the front page of their website. A deeper search reveals the term "betavoltaic" appears nowhere on their site.

At this point, horseshit is close, but it gets soupier and nastier than that. A brief search of betavoltaic reveals how deep the poop chute goes. A shady company called Betavoltaic Industries, American Antigravity touting the technology, and a handful of other "free energy" sites. A couple voices of reason ring out: Eric Krieg and Shawn Bishop illuminate the junk science, misunderstandings, and purely theoretical basis of the technology. Crunch Gear calls it a classic pump and dump scheme.

[Side note: what good is a laptop battery that lasts 5-6 times as long as the usefulness of the laptop? When was the last time you could switch out a battery from one laptop to another, newer version? Manufacturers consolidating and standardizing, perhaps? Have you ever tried to charge your phone, maybe home for the holidays, where there are seven or eight different chargers and not one fits? Exactly like that.]

Why am I putting such effort into something so obviously untrue? Because the good people at SciFi Tech should know better. It's only a matter of time before it makes Headline News. The retraction will be aired once at 5am. And then that asshat at work who's always wrong about everything will nonchalantly sneer at you charging your cellphone and say "you know, in two years, you'll never have to do that again. The Air Force is makin' a 30 year battery." And then you can donkey punch him. Verbally, figuratively, of course.


Momma Bear said...

Wow! Thank you for letting us know that THIS was a complete scam!! Great posting!!

wade said...

I feel much better knowing that there are good people like you to gaurd the web from lies and deceat. You are a true protector of the internet.

Ricky Shambles said...

Thanks for your comments!

Specifically, wade, I'm glad to know that there are illiterate trolls with nothing better to do than leave a "sarcastic" skid mark of approval on display for all to see. I'm embarrassed for you. Cheers!