Georgia Tech wants to know whether hamsters can help solve the world’s energy crisis. "Probably not," it turns out, "but a hamster wearing a power-generating jacket is doing its own small part to provide a new and renewable source of electricity."

Nanogenerators "can be driven by irregular mechanical motion, such as the vibration of vocal cords, flapping of a flag in the breeze, tapping of fingers or hamsters running on exercise wheels." So, Georgia Tech has worked to generate electrical currents from a tapping finger, thereby moving the users of BlackBerrys, cell phones and other handhelds one step closer to powering them with their own typing, as well as harnessing hamsters.

But beyond the finger-tapping and hamster-running, researchers believe modules could be implanted into the body to harvest energy from such sources as muscle movements or pulsating blood vessels. "In the body, they could be used to power nanodevices to measure blood pressure or other vital signs," according to Georgia Tech.

The research team encountered a number of obstacles related to its four-legged subjects, though. This was the first time researchers outfitted a rat with a power-generating jacket, but it found that the creature wasn’t very interested in running. Apparently, hamsters are night owls.