Virus Powered Cars

Sounds a little crazy to be flying down the highway in a vehicle powered by little tiny virus..... well that is not exactly how it works.

Some researchers at MIT are developing a battery they say is "grown" by a modified M13 virus. The virus grows proteins on carbon nanotubes which attracts amorphous iron phosphate. I guess you can make really small batteries. I wonder how much energy could be stored in these little things. One article I read said it is suppose to be comparable to lithium-ion batteries yet cheaper to make and more environmentally friendly.

It is only in the early stages of development. I wonder what problems they might face with this technology. For one, Carbon nanotubes are expensive to make. I can't imagine that those small nanotubes and proteins with iron phoshate are very robust as far as shock resistance or durability, but really I don't know. If they were that fragile my dream of virus powered car could not be realized. If you could make them really small and durable cell phones might be a good use. The sky is the limit.

In my opinion battery technology used today really has not advanced much in the last 100 years or so. If you compare progress made in other areas of science and engineering like electronics and genetics you will see that we are still in the stone age when it comes to storing and discharging electricity.

The question I have about this whole thing is who is the guy that thought of the idea to genetically engineer a virus to make a tiny battery. Either they stumbled upon it or some geeky MIT genetics engineer was high while he was brain storming for ideas to research.

Here is the link to the article- "Viruses used to Grow Greener Batteries"

Here is another link that explains how it works- "Viruses Used to Build Tiny Batteries"

Social Implications of Military Robots

It doesn't get much geekier than blogging about robots, but here it goes. I came across this speech on TED.COM (Technology, Entertainment, Design) that was interest to me personally. At my job we have a contract to manufacture the v-tail wing for the Predator B which is one of the unmanned airplanes shown in this talk and technically I program robots(computer controlled machine tools) all day at work. So you can see that I deal with robots quite a bit.

I always thought that there was no downside to sending robots into war rather than our soldiers. In all reality there is always a large down side to war no matter who is fighting it. Don't get me wrong I am not a hippie by any means. But this talk by P.W. Singer has some very interesting points on the social implications of fighting wars with robots. In my opinion it is inevitable, robotics are becoming and will be the weapon of choice for the military forces of the world.

The task at hand is not losing touch with the realities of wars. Perhaps its these horrible realities that keeps many in check. As war becomes more and more like a video game how do we maintain a high level of understanding of how bad war is if we don't experience it first hand? With all the war, death, and violence portrayed in the media how do we keep a high level of reverence and respect for human life? We live in some amazing times, yet we face some very unique challenges that no other generation has dealt with.

This talk is about 16 minutes so enjoy and let me know your thoughts on robots and wars in the comments for this post.