Scientists Build Electricity Producing Viruses
If current research proves fruitful, the homes and cities of the future may be powered by viruses. Berkeley Lab scientists have genetically engineered the M13 virus to output more power.
What's the Latest Development?
Scientists at the Department of Energy's Berkeley Lab have genetically engineered a virus known as M13 to emit electricity when pressure is applied to it. "M13 is a natural power source, but researchers enhanced its output by genetically engineering the virus, adding some negatively-charged amino acids to one end of its tough outer shell." Scientists organized the viruses onto squares of film measuring about one square centimeter and then sandwiched the film between two gold-plated electrodes. By connecting wires to the electrodes, scientists were able to power a small liquid-crystal display screen.
What's the Big Idea?
Scientists were able to produce six nanoamperes of current and 400 millivolts of potential, which is about a quarter of the voltage of a triple-A battery and was enough to flash the number '1' on the display screen. The 'piezoelectric effect' explains the behavior of viruses that, when squeezed, produce electricity. "Any kind of motion can power up M13, so you could conceivably power your house by jumping up and down on a virus-coated floor, or power your iPod by jiggling it in your pocket." Or imagine painting your laptop keyboard with the film so that every time you type, your battery powers up.
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
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