Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Broadcast Power

It broke Tesla's heart and the same financial stumbling block that finished his ambitious plans to treat electricity like a radio signal still remains: How do you charge people for power they pull out of the air?

It's an idea that's more than a hundred years old and technologically it least, it's time may have finally come. It would transform everything, changing our society in ways we can't even imagine yet.

Separate the antennas by a few meters and, with some fine-tuning, you can safely and efficiently transfer electricity from one to the other—without wires. Put this system inside your home, and you would have a wireless network for electrical power. You could recharge your laptop or turn on a light without plugging anything in.

The crucial bit would be the fine-tuning: The two antennas would have to be tweaked so that one would create a pulsating magnetic field with a specific frequency and geometry, which the other would then transform into an electric current.

Of course then we'd all be living under the high tension power lines. In Waldo Robert Heinlein, who at the time he wrote it saw broadcast power as an inevitability, suggested long term health effects would result from constant exposure to high power electromagnetic fields. Nowadays the idea is controversial but definitely on the publics radar.

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