The Loh Down On Science

Cockroach Power

How many cockroaches does it take to power a light bulb?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying ... a lot. No joke!

Scientists from Case Western Reserve University recently designed a diminutive fuel cell and planted it inside a living False Death's Head Cockroach. Nice name.

And the roach ... didn't die! Of course. Because the little buggers just don't.

More importantly, the cell--which was not much more than a wire--harvested electrons from chemical reactions inside the cockroach's body. And? Produced electricity!

It wasn't much of a buzz. You can't use roaches to recharge your Volt, for example.

But the scientists say it is enough to run microcameras, sensors, or microphones that might also be attached to the roach.

When would a cockroach need a camera, you ask? When it's a cyborg cockroach, outfitted with technogadgetry for super spying.

As an added bonus, the fuel cell also worked when the scientists embedded it in a Shiitake mushroom.

So be wary when you order in Japanese, is I guess the point. Or at least don't discharge any national secrets during dinner.



The Loh Down on Science, online, at lohdown.org. Produced by 89.3 KPCC and the California Institute of Technology, and made possible by TIAA-CREF.

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