Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Technology Wednesday--All Charged Up
My dad, who is 87, had his pacemaker replaced last week in an outpatient procedure that took about 40 minutes, with about an hour's recovery time. The other pacemaker had stopped working--its battery ran out and consequently his energy level and circulation were not what they would have been had the pacer been working.
He had had the old device for about nine years, which struck me as a fairly long time for a battery to last. Of course, what it's doing is providing an electrical impulse at regular intervals which on the face of it, while important, would not seem to cause that much drain on a battery. (As usual, I don't know much about my subject, but I do know those ain't Energizer AA cells in the device.) I found out that pacemakers use lithium iodine batteries and they are expected to lose 10% of their power after about five years. Not too shabby. I'm glad for pacemakers and glad that they have such long lasting batteries.
I was thinking about batteries and their power and longevity when my iPhone upgraded itself to a new operating system. With the upgrade, suddenly the battery wouldn't last all day even though I used it about the same amount. I have had to take to carrying the charging cord around with me and plugging it in wherever I am in the late afternoon, sponging off someone else's 120 volt outlet if I'm away from home. Taking more battery power is not my idea of an upgrade, and I've talked to several other iPhone owners who have experienced the same thing. What's with that, I want to know.
Then I thought about electric cars. My friend and prolific writer and community activist Cindy Brookshire knows a fellow in town who is all about electric cars. I want to interview him when I have time because I don't know much about them other than hybrids seem to be practical at this point in their development while an all-electric doesn't really cut it in terms of our expectations for our cars. Sure, I drive less than thirty miles most days, but suppose I take a wild hair and decide to drive to Atlanta for some reason. With my mighty Impala, it's not problem as long as I have a credit card for gas. I fill it up and keep on going. With some pure electrics, you'd have to stop every thirty miles and charge the pack for a couple hours. That would extend a trip, all right.
I understand there are batteries for pure electric cars under development with a range of 500 miles and a charging time of a few minutes. Now that's what I'm talking about, even if it does leave the problem of a charger infrastructure. Early automobile users bought gas from drug stores, and it would take us quite a while to come up with enough charging stations for everyone. And do you think the oil companies would like that? Not very much, I think.
I know very little about everything I've written about in this post, so I hope some folks who are more informed will comment and correct an errors or misapprehensions I've had. I'd appreciate it. In fact, I'd get a big charge out of it!