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Entries in Electronics (3)

Monday
May142012

Could a Virus Actually Power Your iPhone?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Viruses might eventually be able to power the very phone, computer or tablet you’re reading this article on. And we’re not talking about those digital viruses or infestations — trojans, worms, and whatnot.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Berkeley Lab have found a way to generate power using human viruses. Yes, those viruses inside your body. With a harmless specially engineered M13 virus, the group has been able to power a small display. The viruses can convert mechanical force into electricity.

“In near future, we believe that we can develop personal electric generators. Basically, all of our daily activity related to mechanical movement (or vibration): walking, jogging, typing, etc.,” Seung-Wuk Lee, a faculty scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division, told ABC News. “For example, by installing our piezoelectric thin films on your shoes, we can convert our walking energy to electric energy. Therefore, with a phone in our pocket connected to our shoes, we can charge our phone.”

So how does it all work? The scientists tapped a finger on an electrode coated with the viruses and the viruses then converted the force of the tap into an electric charge. And that force is critical to the equation.

This is the first time electricity has been conducted by “harnessing the piezoelectric properties of biological material,” Berkeley Lab’s press release states. What that really means is that it is the first time electricity has been made by a combination of force and viruses.

But the scientists are picturing even broader uses. “In the future, because our M13 virus-based piezoelectric material is biocompatible, we can implant the virus-based piezoelectric power generator in our body and capture our heart perspiration as a electric power source of the biomedical devices or biosensors. Therefore, no more charging of your pacemakers, hearing aids, personal health monitoring sensors,” Lee explained.

However, this is still a ways out. According to Lee, the current power generation from the virus-based generator is not enough to power a phone yet.

“We are currently working on enhancing the power output of the virus-based piezoelectric generators,” Lee said. “Through our approaches, we believe that we can achieve power enhancement 100-1000 times and develop the personal power generator in near future.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov292011

Can Wi-Fi Kill Your Sperm?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Attention all men: You might want to keep your laptops, smartphones and other Internet-browsing tools away from the family jewels.

A new study, albeit a small one, suggests that using Wi-Fi may damage sperm and decrease a man’s fertility. The cause is electromagnetic radiation generated by wireless communication.

In the study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, researchers took semen samples from 29 healthy volunteers and placed them under a Wi-Fi-enabled laptop connected to the Internet. After four hours, the semen suffered -- 25 percent of the sperm were no longer swimming and nine percent of them showed DNA damage. Semen samples kept near a laptop that was turned on but not connected to the Internet showed minimal damage, as did samples that were stored separately.

“Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the Internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality,” the authors wrote in the study, noting that they were unsure if their findings extended to all wireless devices or if there were other conditions affecting sperm quality.

The findings fuel anxiety for the millions of men who keep a number of Wi-Fi-enabled devices on their laps, in their pockets and in close proximity to their nether regions.

According the American Urological Association, nearly one in six U.S. couples have difficulty conceiving, and about half of the time, the man’s fertility is the problem. For optimal fertility, a man should have 70 million sperm per millimeter. Some research has found that environmental factors can lower sperm counts below this level.

A study published in early November indicated that the heat generated by holding a laptop on the knees was enough to raise testicle temperatures to dangerous, sperm-damaging levels, even after 10 to 15 minutes.

Smoking and excessive alcohol are obvious culprits in depleting sperm, said Shanna Swan, director of the Center for Reproductive Epidemiology at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. She also told ABC News that men who are worried about their fertility might think about eating organic foods to avoid pesticides that might lead to less viable sperm. Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise doesn’t hurt either.

Some scientists say they don’t believe using a laptop will make men infertile. But just in case, maybe consider using our computer on your desk.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar072011

Study: Americans Not Getting Enough Sleep; Using Electronics Before Bed

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A large number of Americans are not getting the sleep they need, with many reporting using some sort of technology in the hour before going to bed. A new study released Monday says the two are related.

The National Sleep Foundation reports in its 2011 Sleep in America poll that 43 percent of Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 claim they rarely get a good night's sleep on weeknights.  Furthermore, the study found that 60 percent experience a sleep problem regularly, such as snoring, waking up in the middle of the night, or waking up too early.

Meanwhile, 95 percent of Americans surveyed reported using electronics, such as a TV, computer, or cell phone within the hour before trying to fall asleep, at least a few times a week

"Artificial light exposure between dusk and the time we go to bed at night suppresses release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, enhances alertness and shifts circadian rhythms to a later hour -- making it more difficult to fall asleep," said Charles Czeisler, Ph.D., MD, of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital.

"This study reveals that light-emitting screens are in heavy use within the pivotal hour before sleep.  Invasion of such alerting technologies into the bedroom may contribute to the high proportion of respondents who reported that they routinely get less sleep than they need," ´╗┐Czeisler added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio