The Forgotten Story of NYC's First Power Grid

Lower Manhattan of the 1880s was a wonderland of futuristic technology and engineering: The city's first cable car arced over the harbor. A spindly new steel bridge was forming to connect Williamsburg to the city. And on the Lower East Side, Edison was tearing up the streets to build the first permanent power… » 1/26/15 4:13pm 1/26/15 4:13pm

California's Grid May Soon Store Energy in Giant Ice Packs 

California wants better batteries, which is why the electric company Southern California Edison is planning a set of, let's say, unconventional energy storage solutions, including huge 450-gallon ice packs. Why? It all has to do with a little-known problem with California's wind-reliant electric grid. » 12/22/14 4:55pm 12/22/14 4:55pm

Your Cable Box Is an Energy-Sucking Monster (But It Doesn't Have to Be)

An innocent little cable box can suck up more electricity than your actual TV. The most galling part though? Up to two-thirds of its power-hogging actually happens in "idle" mode, when you're not even using it. The good news is, device makers have the technical ability to make cable boxes that don't waste so much… » 12/03/14 12:00pm 12/03/14 12:00pm

This Kid-Proof Outlet Wouldn't Power Up Until You Plug Something In

Any household with small roaming humans inevitably has to block its electrical sockets from tiny probing fingers. But most of the childproof measures out there—plastic plugs, sliding faceplates—can still be impregnated by determined hands. This outlet prototype wouldn't supply any electricity to its sockets until a… » 11/19/14 5:40pm 11/19/14 5:40pm

This Was An Electric Razor (And Face Massager!) in 1926

As electricity invaded American homes in the 1920s, everything imaginable was becoming electrified. From electric clocks and coffee percolators to electric dishwashers and stand mixers, every gadget was going electric. Even the sacred ritual of shaving one's face was getting the electric treatment, as you can see in… » 11/03/14 3:12pm 11/03/14 3:12pm

This Giant Searchlight Once Scanned L.A. From the Mountains Above

As twilight faded over Pasadena on September 9, 1894, an artificial sun flickered to life for the first time. High above town in the San Gabriel Mountains stood a wonder of the new electric age: a 60-inch General Electric searchlight, by many accounts the largest in the world. This massive projector first dazzled… » 11/01/14 6:26pm 11/01/14 6:26pm

The World's Biggest and Best Gas Turbine Can Power 400,000 Homes

If you thought the GE90 aircraft engine was a masterpiece of modern engineering, just get a load of this beauty. General Electric's 9HA is the most advanced and efficient gas turbine available today and though it may not be able to lift a 787 off the ground, this potent electricity producer can easily power a mid-size… » 10/03/14 11:40am 10/03/14 11:40am

This Flapping Device Makes Electricity From Wind Rushing Past Your Car

As far as car accessories go, we have to admit this one looks pretty silly. But the Samsung scientists who made it could also be onto something. The flapping tongues inside are actually coated with gold, and when they rub up against a smooth plate, electricity is created through something called the triboelectric… » 9/23/14 8:30pm 9/23/14 8:30pm

Touch-Sensitive Outlet Shuts Down Power To Protect Kids From Shocks

Here's a wonderful mashup of existing technologies that promises to make it all but impossible for little kids to get shocked by a power outlet. The Guardian Angel Shockproof Safety Outlet uses similar technology as your smartphone's touchscreen to detect when it's being touched, and then automatically shut down power… » 9/22/14 2:59pm 9/22/14 2:59pm

This Temporary Tattoo Is Actually a Battery That's Powered By Your Sweat

What if the sweat produced by your body could power your gadgets? And what if the connection between the two could be made by a temporary tattoo, the more you sweat, the more power the tattoo generates? That's exactly what researchers at UC San Diego have developed—and one day, it could power your wearables. » 8/13/14 9:30am 8/13/14 9:30am