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What's with the name?

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she blinded me with science

15 Year Old Girl Levels Up In Science Bossitude, Invents a Flashlight Powered By Body Heat


When I was in tenth grade I’m pretty sure I spent most of my free time watching movies and reading fanfic. And here Ann Makosinski is inventing a new type of flashlight and advancing to the finals of the Google Science Fair. I feel lazy.

Says Makosinski:

“I became interested in the area of harvesting surplus energy when I realized that humans are a great source of untapped thermal energy… My objective became to make a flashlight that runs solely on the heat of the human hand.”

To do that she used Peltier tiles, a device that produces energy when they’re warmed on one side (by body heat, say) and cooled on the other (by ambient air). The British Columbia native found that the tiles generated enough energy with no problem, but they didn’t produce the voltage she needed with the circuit she was using. So, like any teenage science-loving badass, she kept doing research, trying new circuits, and even building her own transformers until she found a circuit/transformer combination that worked. “This took quite awhile ’cause I had to do it during the school year as well, and I had homework, plays, whatever that I was also doing,” she explains.

Again: Fanfic.

The result is two hollow flashlights, one of which uses an aluminum tube and the other a PVC tube from Home Depot, each of which cost Makosinski about $26 to make (she estimated that the price will go down if they’re mass produced) and can maintain a steady beam of light for over 20 minutes.

Granted, 20 minutes isn’t a long time when you’re in the woods at night being chased down by a bloodthirsty wendigo. (That’s what happens on camping trips, right? I blocked memories of my childhood ones out.) But if she wins the Google Science Fair grand prize she’ll walk away with a $50,000 scholarship that will doubtless help her on her way to lighting up our lives even more.

(CBC.ca via Gizmodo)

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  • CMFTW

    That is so cool!

  • John W

    20 minutes is a long time when the power suddenly goes out. Kudos to her.

    I wonder if we’re in the midst of some scientific revolution, enabled by the internet.

  • Mark Matson

    I can’t think of any reason these would stop working, as long as the inner core cools off to room temperature. My guess is she only experimented for 20 minutes, not that they actually stopped working after that point. If they do stop due to warming up too much, I’m sure that is easily solved. (You could also “power” them with tap water or anything else cooler than body temperature.)

  • Anonymous

    Awesome idea! I wonder how it will work in hotter climates though.

  • Anonymous

    Poorly. If they need a temp differential to function, places where ambient temps are roughly the same as body temps will need something more than air to cool them. On the other hand, evaporating water might suffice. A small reservoir and wick could be just the thing.

  • snailspace

    Plus, there’s no way they could be misappropriated and used by the undead, who are room-temperature!

  • Bad Monkey

    I’m working on the assumption it’s the changing temperature which is creating the circuit. As I suggested a few moments ago, put in a second circuit on a rotary switch and as the first plate matches your skin temp and the lights go out you can switch to the second circuit to allow the first to cool again. Keep switching between the two and you have allot more time. (The new limit will be dependent on how quickly the contact plates cool in air).