Amazing how our burdens change over time. A few years back, some of the questions you’d ask when moving around were: will there be a road, will petrol be avialable, will there be a telephone, with there be a fax machine, will there be cellphone reception and now today … will there be a plug point available to aid my ailing battery. Bump into me at any Wifi hotspot and you’ll find me appendaged to a plugpoint charging my laptop, cell phone and iPod. It’s no secret that I’m not an HP fan. Currently adding to my PC-woes is the fact that the battery life on my laptop is nearing a max of 45 minutes. Working virtually, I demand a lot from a power supply. But I do wonder if a battery that is just shy of 1 year old should detoriate as quickly as it has? So, I best make this post a quick one lest my time is cut short.

To be fair, my issue here is not as much with HP as it is with the limits of science. It is well known that Moore’s Law promises us with better times to come in terms of computing power and speed. However, little is said about battery technology’s ability to keep up with that sort of development and need. Damon Darlin and Barnaby J. Feder report today in The New York Times how scientists are running into some basic hurdles of chemistry and physics when it comes to packing more energy life into smaller battery packs. The key issue: the more energy in a small package the higher the volatility. The recent Dell recall of 4.1 million laptop batteries is testiment to how a microscopic metal particle suddenly makes you wonder when last you backed-up (and they are not even covered by warranties!!!). I bight my thumb at those who worry about cellphone waves frying my brain … phwah, talk about the spontaneous combustion ability I pack everday. We should all actually keep our distance!

It is stated that the energy capacity of batteries is increasing a mere 5 to 8 percent a year, while demand is exponential. I do wonder how much easier my life would be if I did not have to run through a mental checklist before going to bed while standing at a plug-point in my wall: cellphone, laptop, handsfree, razor, iPod.

Point of order this week: purchase new battery (also known as piling money into the coffers of manufacturers who have no incentive to make batteries last longer.)

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