Searching For a Better Battery, with Brad Templeton

In this day and age, we and our gadgets are limited by the archaic ways we store our power. Tech guru Brad Templeton explains that a breakthrough in battery technology would spark an exciting wave of innovation and enable the future of computing to be realized.

If you were to open up your phone (that is, if you still have a phone that can easily be opened), you'd find that the largest, heaviest component of the technology isn't the magical wiring that grants you 24/7 access to cat photos. It's not even the memory that allows you to store those cat photos for future use. Rather, the heaviest piece of your phone is the battery. And as Singularity University's Brad Templeton explains in his Big Think interview, those weighty bits are holding us down in more ways than just one.

Computer technology is limited by the pesky principles of power consumption. The reason we can't take a major next step with the personal computer is because our chips would melt if they were run any faster. There's only so far our current setup will go.

"If you looked inside a modern desktop computer you've probably seen it's got a big tower with silver veins and fan blowing on it. That's to get all the heat out. And that's making it hard to make the desktop computers faster."

But when it comes to pocket technology (and beyond), Templeton explains how innovative restraints are set by the limitations of power storage. No matter how impressive our iPhones and electric cars become, we're still subject to the whims of our chargers. Our 21st century gadgets are being handicapped by 20th century power storage:

"This is an area where breakthroughs are needed for cars, as well as for devices we have in our pockets, and even for storing power that's generated from the power grid. We really would love to switch to renewal power like solar and wind, but the problem is that these only come when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing and so you need to store the power to use at a later time and that's actually a pretty difficult challenge."

Raising the ceiling of our innovative potential requires new advances in battery technology. Just imagine where our technology could go if we weren't weighted down by our big hulking bits of power storage. Templeton notes that there are plenty of people searching for this much-needed breakthrough, yet real innovation won't be possible until researchers are able to get ideas off the blackboard and put into practice. In this arena, theory gets us nowhere.

"You have to really make it commercializiable before you can say you have it and that hasn't happened yet."

For more on this topic from Brad Templeton, check out the following clip from his Big Think interview:














Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
Keep reading Show less

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
Keep reading Show less

Water may be an inevitable result of the process that forms rocky planets

New research identifies an unexpected source for some of earth's water.

Surprising Science
  • A lot of Earth's water is asteroidal in origin, but some of it may come from dissolved solar nebula gas.
  • Our planet hides majority of its water inside: two oceans in the mantle and 4–5 in the core.
  • New reason to suspect that water is abundant throughout the universe.
Keep reading Show less