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MIT Wirelessly Powers a Lightbulb

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the magic-tubes-and-pots-and-pans-bits-and-pieces-and dept.

Power 394

kcurtis writes "According to the Boston Globe, MIT Researchers have powered a light bulb remotely. The successful experiment lit a 60-watt light bulb from a power source two meters away, with no physical connection between the power source and the light bulb. Details about WiTricity, or wireless electricity, are scheduled to be reported today in Science Express, the advance online publication of the journal Science, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said. 'The team from MIT is not the first group to suggest wireless energy transfer. Nineteenth-century physicist and engineer Nikola Tesla experimented with long-range wireless energy transfer, but his most ambitious attempt - the 29m high aerial known as Wardenclyffe Tower, in New York - failed when he ran out of money. Others have worked on highly directional mechanisms of energy transfer such as lasers. However, unlike the MIT work, these require an uninterrupted line of sight, and are therefore not good for powering objects around the home.'"

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394 comments

Burnt out... (4, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430125)


Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.


Apparently the power supply failed.

Mmmmmm...wireless (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430139)

I want a wireless lightbulb hanging above my head, for when I have good ideas.

Re:Mmmmmm...wireless (2, Funny)

buswolley (591500) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430351)

I can build one for you.

Part list: 1 light bulb, 1 solar cell plate, a really bright flashlight.

Re:Mmmmmm...wireless (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430793)

If all you want is remote light, why not dispense with the bulb and solar cell and just shine the flashlight at a mirror? Or dispense with the mirror and just point the flashlight where you want the light to in the first place?

8p

Re:Mmmmmm...wireless (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430853)

you, sir, are a dim bulb...

buttes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430149)

5s good sir

Induction? (4, Insightful)

siriuskase (679431) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430151)

How does this differ from induction?

Re:Induction? (5, Funny)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430209)

How does this differ from induction?

Chiefly by the differentiating degree of buzzword compliance.

Re:Induction? (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430239)

Mainly Range. Induction wont make the two feet without so much power/huge induceres that it is ridiculous. Cube squared law.

Re:Induction? (3, Informative)

Alioth (221270) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430719)

It's still done with a magnetic field - it's just magnetic coupling, just like a transformer, i.e. induction.

Don't go near it with your credit cards or backup tapes though.

It's special MIT induction! (-1, Flamebait)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430333)

I thought MS were the only people to "innovate" by making hoopla about well understood technology. That was sad enough.

It is even sadder that prestigious organisations like MIT stoop this low too.

Re:It's special MIT induction! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430537)

I just do not understand you idiots. Two stories down, you're bitching that a synthetic life form shouldn't be patentable because God has prior art. (Which, obviously, He doesn't, that being the whole point.) Now someone comes up with a remarkable breakthrough and you're bitching because it vaguely sounds like something you've heard of, except that you haven't bothered to RTFA to see why it's completely different.

What on earth do you server chimps think is a useful motivation for researchers if money and respect are both off the table?

Re:Induction? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430431)

from now on, please don't comment until you RTFA.

Re:Induction? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430589)

from now on, please don't comment until you RTFA.

QFT

This is great! (5, Funny)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430153)

No longer having to search for an ethernet cable or phone jack for my modem was great! In a few years, I won't have to battle against the hippie-chick mac users in the coffee shop for one of the tables next to one of the three electrical outlets in the joint! The only problem is, I wouldn't call my computer a, "lap top," anymore, as I wouldn't want to put any device that is recharged wirelessly anywhere near my, ... um,... "equipment."

Re:This is great! (5, Funny)

DogDude (805747) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430709)

I won't have to battle against the hippie-chick mac users in the coffee shop for one of the tables next to one of the three electrical outlets in the joint!

Are you retarded? Seriously, are you retarded? You want LESS reason to interact with hip coffee shop girls who also happen to have enough cash to buy a Mac? And geeks wonder why they never get laid.... sheesh!

Losses? (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430171)

How is this for efficiency? Can you actually beat a copper wire since there wouldn't be resistance? What sort of distances does this work over?

Re:Losses? (2, Informative)

Smight (1099639) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430401)

I can understand not wanting to RTFA but not RTFS?
come on!

40%,no,6 feet.

It won't cause cancer and according to "King of the Hill" this might increase your sperm count!

Re:Losses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430875)

I can light half a planet from 93 million miles away.

Cancer.. (1, Interesting)

mr_stinky_britches (926212) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430173)

This just screams cancer. I Hope I don't unwittingly end up sitting between the device and the energy transmitter of one of these things.

--
My most recent journal entry: wait, Slashdot used to be fun!? @#$!@, I missed it. [slashdot.org]

Re:Cancer.. (5, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430225)

I don't know about cancer, but I'll wager standing in the way of a very high power transmitter would probably negate the need for condoms, or possibly skin.

Re:Cancer.. (1)

hasbeard (982620) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430251)

Well, the article says this thing uses magnetic fields to work instead which are different from the kind of radio waves which microwaves (and cell phones, WI-FI, etc) use. According to the article, magnetic fields don't have any effect on the human body (unless I suppose, you have a metal plate in your head).

Re:Cancer.. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430377)

What about pacemakers? Generally places with high magnetic fields carry special warning signs that people with pacemakers should keep off.

Imagine how dangerous it would be as a weapon (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430263)

I think technologies such as wireless electricity, are among the many technologies which can also be dangerous as weapons.

How exactly would anyone stop wireless electric weapons? Not easily.

Re:Cancer.. (2, Interesting)

gubachwa (716303) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430331)

Actually, the article addresses the health concerns. From the article:

Magnetic coupling is particularly suitable for everyday applications because most common materials interact only very weakly with magnetic fields, so interactions with extraneous environmental objects are suppressed even further. "The fact that magnetic fields interact so weakly with biological organisms is also important for safety considerations," Kurs, a graduate student in physics, points out.

The investigated design consists of two copper coils, each a self-resonant system. One of the coils, attached to the power source, is the sending unit. Instead of irradiating the environment with electromagnetic waves, it fills the space around it with a non-radiative magnetic field oscillating at MHz frequencies. The non-radiative field mediates the power exchange with the other coil (the receiving unit), which is specially designed to resonate with the field. The resonant nature of the process ensures the strong interaction between the sending unit and the receiving unit, while the interaction with the rest of the environment is weak.

so if cellphone radiation might cause cancer... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430185)

imagine what having this kind of energy bouncing off you in your home all night might do...

Re:so if cellphone radiation might cause cancer... (5, Insightful)

binarybum (468664) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430435)

nah, there are enough people imagining this sort of garbage. Let's try studying it instead. MRI uses huge magnetic fields that researchers are exposed to on a daily basis and there is no solid data that it causes biologic harm. All waves that are invisible are not Roentgen's, let's be prudent rather than luddite.

Not the first remotely powered lightbulb (5, Informative)

ksp0704 (242246) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430189)

This isn't really the first lightbulb to be lit remotely. Flourescents can be lit by an EM field.... so in a microwave, or under highpower lines:
http://www.boxyit.com/r/index.htm [boxyit.com]

Re:Not the first remotely powered lightbulb (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430233)

Just coming to say the same myself, however since I have had another thought

I get wireless light every single day and can see the wireless glow at night if I look to the heavens.

Wow. 100 years and they finally caught up with... (4, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430195)

Nicoli Tesla, who claimed to be able to do this. Now, he might have been insane, but he was a genius. I fully believe he did the exact same thing, although probably wasted a lot more energy than they did, and for a much higher cost to create.

Re:Wow. 100 years and they finally caught up with. (1)

Jeek Elemental (976426) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430383)

I think Tesla did the same with high voltage, ie ramping up the voltage till it arced where he wanted.
Less practical but much more fun for the office.

Re:Wow. 100 years and they finally caught up with. (2, Informative)

n6gn (851311) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430385)

Hertz did a similar thing:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Rudolf_Hertz #Electromagnetic_research [wikipedia.org]
probably at around 50 MHz rather than 10 MHz but pretty similar. He didn't have a 60W bulb to power at the time (Where's Edison when you need him?) but he got a *spark* at similar distance. He even made it work through a box.

I know, the difference is related to how the filed is/was generated but this certainly isn't new.

n6gn

Re:Wow. 100 years and they finally caught up with. (1)

drfrog (145882) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430523)

how true, its no wonder GE bought all his ideas and buried them

if only bucky fuller and n tesla could have worked on the world electircal grid together

Re:Wow. 100 years and they finally caught up with. (1)

SparkyFlooner (1090661) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430777)

Did nobody learn anything from The Quiet Earth?

When you die at the exact moment the field goes active, you are transformed to some alternate dimension.

MIT must be stopped!

bring out the tinfoil (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430469)

Nicoli(sic) Tesla, who claimed to be able to do this. Now, he might have been insane, but he was a genius. I fully believe he did the exact same thing, although probably wasted a lot more energy than they did, and for a much higher cost to create.
I'm just gonna have to mention it: Tunguska [newscientist.com].

Re:Wow. 100 years and they finally caught up with. (5, Insightful)

Jeremy_Bee (1064620) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430595)

First off, Nicola Tesla was not insane. Secondly, he *did* do this, many times in fact.

Personally, I am a bit miffed at the MIT folks for not giving credit where credit is due. This is the second article I have seen in the last month or two on this topic and they hardly even mention the fact that this is a key Tesla invention that was in fact accomplished by him and repeatably demonstrated. To read the articles one would think that the folks at MIT just sat down last week and invented this all by themselves when it is simply not true.

It *is* the case that Tesla is a "fan favorite" of the same type of folks that like to believe in free energy machines and it *is* the case that his *commercial* attempt at providing wireless power was never finished, but the technique and the methodology behind it was sound and I think even patented by Tesla.

To ignore his achievements, simply because many years after his death the man has gained some tertiary association with the lunatic fringe is a bit outrageous to my mind. The particular article referenced here even goes out of it's way to say that Tesla tried wireless power but "failed" (even though they mention off-handedly that it was only through lack of funds, not through any technical problems).

Tesla invented this technique, plain and simple. And those articles that fail to mention it are doing history a great dis-service.

Re:Wow. 100 years and they finally caught up with. (2, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430795)

It *is* the case that Tesla is a "fan favorite" of the same type of folks that like to believe in free energy machines and it *is* the case that his *commercial* attempt at providing wireless power was never finished, but the technique and the methodology behind it was sound and I think even patented by Tesla.

To ignore his achievements, simply because many years after his death the man has gained some tertiary association with the lunatic fringe is a bit outrageous to my mind. The particular article referenced here even goes out of it's way to say that Tesla tried wireless power but "failed" (even though they mention off-handedly that it was only through lack of funds, not through any technical problems).
Speaking of people picking on Tesla, dis you ever see Edison's FUD [newscientist.com] about the dangers of alternating current?

My own conspiracy theory about Tesla is that his lack of funding was due to his old nemesis.

Do it yourself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430605)

Sheesh, I did this and anyone can. (Not to take away from Tesla, whom obviosly invented it)Build yourself a Tesla Coil and bring a Fluoro bulb near it while online.

Fluorescent tubes and power lines (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430203)

Haven't you already been able to do this with a fluorescent tube under a high tension power line?

They should make me the editor (5, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430221)

I'm tired of mistakes like this:

The successful experiment to lit a 60-watt light bulb

It should be "to lite a 60-watt light bult." Duh?

Re:They should make me the editor (3, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430279)

Only Americans are so perverse as to think that the English-speaking world is bound by their weirdo spellings. Here's a head's up, the only thing worse than a spelling nazi is a spelling nazi who looks like a fucking retard.

Re:They should make me the editor (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430453)

Here's a head's up, the only thing worse than a spelling nazi is a spelling nazi who looks like a fucking retard.

What about a spelling nazi who looks like a grammar retard?

P.S. s/head's/heads/

Re:They should make me the editor (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430551)

I've seen people do the s/something/somethingelse a lot. What does it mean, and what it's alluding to?

Re:They should make me the editor (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430669)

It's a regular expression [regular-expressions.info] substitution. s is for substitution, / is the delimiter, first set is the text to find, the second set is the test to replace. It can be followed by options and such as well (s/search/replace/i, for case insensitive search being the most common) and it is the means for doing a search and replace in vi (ESC:s/search/replace/). Every nerd should learn at least the basics of regular expressions, they are just too handy.

Re:They should make me the editor (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430695)

So "s/A/B" is just a cute way of saying, "I think that by A you meant B"?

Re:They should make me the editor (1)

froggero1 (848930) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430741)

this would be your post if you did s/A/B on it:

So "s/B/B" is just a cute way of saying, "I think that by A you meant B"?

get it? if you want to replace all A's with B's, do s/A/B/g, otherwise you get the first match only.

Re:They should make me the editor (1)

Nephilium (684559) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430823)

The s/something/somethingelse means that you should substitute the second item for the first one.

An example:

Foo is to the left.

s/Foo/Bar

Bar is to the left.

Nephilium... heading left to the Bar...

Re:They should make me the editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430307)

try "light" :P

Re:They should make me the editor (1)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430323)

Agreed; I'm a decent writer, but a submission isn't something that's written one-off. I write it once, go back, change verb tenses, double check links, fix sentences that don't sound right, and by the time I hit 'submit', I might still have missed something I introduced in a previous edit.

Which is why you'd think "editors" would actually, you know, edit.

Do they get paid for this? Can I be one?

Re:They should make me the editor (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430749)

... write it once, go back, change verb tenses, double check links, fix sentences that don't sound right, ...

And this is precisely why you will never, ever, get a "First Post!".

Re:They should make me the editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430475)

If you are going to be a grammar Nazi, get it right. "Lite" has nothing to do with light. The selection of "lit" was correct, they just mistakenly included a "to."

The successful experiment lit a 60-watt light bulb.

the holy grail of engineering (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430317)

I mean - wireless power means such freedom - low cost infrastructure to third world countries, possibly power to the moon?? Simply awesome.

So if theres an error with the energy transmission (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430321)

when I walk past do any devices I may have in my shoulder bag or pockets get fried, or maybe whats left of my hair gets to stand on end?

Possibly a patent infringment (1)

no-body (127863) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430325)

of one of Nicolay (sp?) Tesla's patents (kiddin - it's probably outdated by now).
In any case - not being able to look at the site, hard to tell but it's old snow - almost a century if that's what they do.

Actually, there is/was a law (in DE) to make it illegal to light your house by "wireless" electricity near a radio transmitter. Just put in two wires on a bulb and it lights up.

Isn't this just a transformer with no UL approval? (1)

viking80 (697716) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430433)

The maximum allowable field leaked from a microwave is 1W/m^2.

How can 60W induced in a coil much smaller possibly meet any regulatory requirements?

BTW, try to stand under a high power line with a fluorescent tube at night, and it will light up. No coil needed.

Re:Isn't this just a transformer with no UL approv (1)

slazzy (864185) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430781)

Maybe because it's not a microwave or existing device with specific regulations they can get away with it? Just a guess.

Large deal... (5, Interesting)

VAXcat (674775) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430481)

Hell, back in the 60s, I had a monstrous WWII surplus transmitter, a BC-610 by name. This thing was the size of a large washing machine, and had vacuum tubes in it the size of your head. It would produce a vertiable torrent of RF. As a young ham operator, I was a little sketchy on the principles and practice of proper antenna load and impedance matching, so the whole feedline was radiating, and causing standing waves in all of the house wiring...in my house and the houses around ours. Enough power was intercepted by house wiring that the incandescent bulbs in light fixtures would glow dimly when I was on the air...even though they were turned off. You could hear my voice on telephones for approximately 10 houses radius, since non-linearities in the old phones were enough of a rectifier to do AM detection on the signal the phoen wiring picked up. Fluorescent tubes in my house & my immediate neighbours would light with a strange plasma looking pattern, caused by the structure of the standing waves present. And forget watching TV or listening to the radio in the neighborhood - my voice was heard on radios louder than the program material, and TV pictures were obliterated by a dancing pattern of hum bars. Enough complaining got back to my parents that I could only operate late late late at night....anyway, you can see why I am not that impressed with the concept of wireless power transmission...I did it in person over 40 years ago...

I know where that transmitter is being used today! (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430615)

Actually I'm pretty sure it's an idiot with a tweaked out auto CB and a 1000W linear but the results are the same.

Uncle Charlie is as useless as ever.

Re:Large deal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430733)

At the other end of the scale, my crystal radio can light an LED placed across the headphone output!
I probably live about 20 miles from the nearest radio transmitter.

It's a diy set, a real hot rod. :)
Your average crystal set won't be efficient enough to do this.

Ummm This isnt new (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430521)

Tesla was doing this a generation ago.

Re:Ummm This isnt new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430817)

Wow. You not only didn't read the article, but you didn't read the excerpt. *clap*...*clap*...*clap*

Slashdot is now officially "News for People with ADD"

Re:Ummm This isnt new (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430879)

Why should i? If i cant get all i need from the title, then its worthless information to me.

40% efficiency (4, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430541)

Thanks for convenience, but in this day and age we are really working to bring our energy efficiency up rather than waste any more. I would prefer a standard for DC, low voltage charges to become as widely accepted as one for electrical outlets. Hopefully, every car, airplane and coffee table will have one to use then.

Re:40% efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430591)

Speak for yourself. I value both convenience AND price of energy.

Lights have been done for decades. (1)

markk (35828) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430619)

This is a lousy article. First, anybody could wirelessly light a flourescent for the last few decades (or century really). Almost any college could also build a setup that caused a regular lightbulb to glow if they wanted to, at any time in the last, say 70 years.
What they are really showing is a test of their "put your equipment close and we'll figure out what we should do to charge it" technology, not "beamed power". We have pretty well understood electromagnetism at that level for a long time.

This isn't news... (1)

Ardeocalidus (947463) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430673)

Anyone who has had any experience with a Tesla Coil will know that if you hold a flourescent lightbulb near the coil whilst it is discharging, the bulb will light up. The faster your Tesla Coil cycles, the more of an appearence of "on" the bulb will have. It works because the coil emits electromagnetic pulses each time the current makes the jump from anode to cathode.

The pulse ionizes the bulb's internal gases and produces a plasma around the internal filament. The mercury is then ionized and begins to emit UV rays.

This really isn't news. Hell, the article talks about Tesla's efforts, which are about a century old.

Can we call it ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430681)

Wi-Fry?

Old News Its called RFID (1)

Wizworm (782799) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430683)

This is the exact same principle used in RFID, scaled appropriately, and used to power a bulb instead of a chip. How is this new?

Wacom (3, Interesting)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430735)

Wacom are powering their tablet pens and mice wirelessly via simple electromagnetic induction. And they patented the hell out of it.

Just saying.

How is this different... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430755)

How is this different than holding a fluorescent light tube (60W) under the high tension lines -- except that they're more than 2m away?

Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430771)

If I'm not mistaken, didn't Nicolie Tesla (sp) do this over a hundred yers ago? Think they'll get the ball ligtning trick down next?

Old technology (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430835)

Back in the 70's when there was a trend of using CB it was commone to take a florescent tube light and putting it near the antenna, keying the mic and watching the bulb light up with no wires attached, actually hand held.

Also you could take a regular house light bulb and throw it up in front of a military radio transmitter/disk and it would go off like a camera flash.

What this means is that for there to be wireless power transmission there is probably something that can cook a human too.

Why this is important. (4, Informative)

Proudrooster (580120) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430843)

As a physics student I took an interest in Tesla and if you haven't read the book titled "A Man Out of Time", consider reading it. Tesla was building a tower to transmit power between the US and Europe (across the large ocean). The reason this is important is that is not accomplished by induction, but through some other means. Tesla's other means was probably really, really, high voltage as he was producing with his Tesla coils. Making high voltage is not a mystery, but directly it safely and then dropping it to a safe and usable potential is very difficult.

In short, this is NOT the same as holding a flourescent tube under a high voltage powerline. The MIT method uses controlled power tranmission over larger distances (2m or 6ft). The technique uses resonance frequency but has 40% loss, which is very bad meaning it is only 60% efficient. Many modern PSU (Power Supply Units) are 90%+ efficient. Unless they increase the efficiency, the power industry probably won't be jumping on board anytime soon.

Environmental impact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19430857)

40% efficient = 2.5 times more green house gasses?

Way to go guys.

Will this obsolete a class of jokes? (1)

ssuchter (451997) | more than 6 years ago | (#19430893)

So will our kids be perplexed by all jokes of the form 'How many X does it take to screw in a light bulb?'
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