Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Harness the Energy of Exercise?

Notions of Expenditure is devoted to proposals to harness the energy expended in exercise. Yesterday's Wired article sets the stage:
Back in the 19th century, researchers studied prisoners at Bellevue Prison in New York as they walked on a treadmill as punishment. They produced about 100 watts each, with the energy used to grind grain to make bread for the prisoners, said Steve Vogel, professor of biology at Duke University.

"Apparently they hated it roundly," he said. Now, of course, people pay good money to do the same thing -- and use up electricity in the process.
Okay, so NoE is more of an odd art project than anything serious - but the proposals are amusing and a couple are even practical. Raj Pandian's entry includes a plausible model to support the claim that
When large numbers of children play on equipment such as a teetertotter, swing, or merry-go-round, part of the energy of their play can be converted into energy to power low-power equipment such as lights, fans, etcetera.
So let's think about this. Treadmill-walking and riding an exercise bike is easy, but how could, say, stepping on a DDR pad be made to perform useful work? Ideas? Anyone? Bueller?

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Blogger dalesd said...

Man, I'd feel so much better about pedaling that exercise bike if I knew I was doing some useful work.

This guy made a hand crank to recharge his ipod.

Modern exercise bikes, I think, use magnetism to create the resistance. This should work as a dynamo.

I'd love to see a wiring diagram of my exercise bike.

6/29/2006 2:05 PM  

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