There's probably a kitchen sink there as well.
As I've noted numerous times in the past, I visit numerous sites to find an appropriate
item for my by-now traditional date tie-in. As I do so I learn numerous facts
that I wasn't familiar with - many of which I'm happy to forget almost as soon
as I encounter them. Some sites are less trustworthy than others - though I admit
that it's often these that I prefer to visit, simply because the spicier, more
out of the ordinary, items can usually be found on them, even if the date itself
is often highly questionable.
But it was on one
of the more trustworthy sites that I learned that on this date, in 1993
a urine battery was demonstrated by coinventors Nelson E. Camus and Edgardo Aguayo at a Los Angeles exhibition
I admit that such an item in and of itself is pretty impressive, but the continuation
only whet my appetite all the more:
Although it could produce only sufficient power to light a small bulb, they claimed that a mixture of urine, lithium and soil could run every appliance in an average home.
It was clear to me that I'd want to try and find more information on this wonderful
invention that seemd to hark back to a favorite book of at least a generation
ago which must have been passed on to someone long ago, Tuli
Kupferberg's 1001 Ways to Live Without Working. Among the many not
necessarily workable suggestions in that book of lists is the classic "eat
shit" which, though it may have a certain logic to it, doesn't seem particularly
palatable or nutritious. If, on the other hand, we can actually get energy from
our urine, that might allow us to work considerably less. Though the urine battery
definitely peaked my interest, my attempts at finding more information about it
only brought me into stranger and stranger territory. One source, for instance,
told me that Nelson E. Camus had invented The
Reed's Motor which, probably predictably, is "a real perpetual motion
For some that might be a promising lead, but I have to admit that for me it caused
me to question whether producing vast quantities of electricity from urine was
actually feasible. But the search was on. Where else would this lead me?
It led to after life
- a paper subtitled "aid for the grieving process in a technologically mediated
culture". Essentially, this is a proposal for a battery that generates electricity
from a decomposing body. As the designers tell it:
The project explores the notion of death in an increasingly electronically
dependent age and proposes the cadaver as a resource for
We can then, let's say, turn on an eternal light that is, in an almost tangible
manner, still a part of our departed loved one. Yes, it sounds like a joke, but
it turns out that the designers are very legitimate design artists (they designed
the somewhat aclaimed Audio
Tooth Implant) and also apparently highly skilled conceptual artists.
This entire trail, stemming originally from a rather innocuous search for an interesting
date tie-in, could probably have been made into a column all its own. But at this
point we'll abandon it, reminding our readers that the rather dubious, but probably
not spurious, urine battery was first exhibited on this day.
Go to: Tools I've known and loved ... and often abandoned.