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 motor".

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 compound chemicals.
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.