You may think of guinea pigs as just furry little machines designed to process alfalfa into poop, but they are so much more than that! They are furry little poop machines that also make convenient batteries, like potatoes, that have fur and squeal! It’s not just them, either — pretty much any mammal can be turned into a battery, courtesy of our highly conductive inner ears, meaning the plot of The Matrix just got more plausible.
A research team from MIT and Harvard Medical School hooked up electrodes to the endocochlear potential, a structure in the inner ear, and drew enough power from it to drive a small wireless radio transmitter. Admittedly, that makes mammals pretty inefficient batteries, as the critter was only putting out about a nanowatt of power. Still what’s the last impressive thing your inner ear ever did, aside from help you keep your balance and navigate your everyday life?
While it’s just a novelty right now, the team is hopeful that further research could one day help them harness the power generated in the inner ear to help power small electronic implants, which don’t eat up a whole lot of juice in the first place.
Of course, that’s just the sort of thing our robot overlords will say before they seal us all in chambers of nutritive sludge to live out the rest of our days in a virtual reality coma, but honestly – does that really sound so bad to anybody anymore?
- Someday we will have laptops that run on guinea pig power
- This isn’t the first eating battery we’ve seen, but it is the least creepy
- These batteries could last 30 years, and you never have to change their litter