Monday, January 1, 2018


Batteries are what I've been thinking about lately.

For one thing: the thing which will make solar power the answer to everything and the source of all the power we need, would be: if batteries got a lot better. And: batteries are getting a lot better, in large part because lots of people are very excited about not burning Earth to a crisp by continuing with fossil fuels. When it comes to large batteries: according to the Washington Post,

Less than a month after Tesla unveiled a new backup power system in South Australia, the world's largest lithium-ion battery is already being put to the test. And it appears to be far exceeding expectations: In the past three weeks alone, the Hornsdale Power Reserve has smoothed out at least two major energy outages, responding even more quickly than the coal-fired backups that were supposed to provide emergency power.

When it comes to somewhat smaller batteries than that: an individual home can combine rooftop solar with batteries to not only be impervious to grid blackouts, but also to help provide power to others during grid blackouts. Between the huge batteries like the one Tesla just installed in Australia, and the ones for individual homes, what we're talking about here is, eventually, and maybe quite soon, and end to grid blackouts. This makes me want solar even much more than I had. I think that imagining an end to blackouts might just make people in general want solar very much. So imagine that, and spread the word.

Speaking of grid blackouts, and smaller batteries than the ones which go with home rooftop solar: earlier today, while I was sitting before this PC, the power went out for about 2 seconds. The PC didn't know why it was now on battery power, and it told me that I might want to think about re-charging my battery because it was at 12%. I'd been worry about blackouts because I'd noticed that my battery was always at around 12%, plugged in and not charging, according to my desktop battery icon. I couldn't figure out why it never seemed to be higher than 12%. Anyhow, after that 2-second blackout, it occurred to me to see whether the problem was that the battery wasn't plugged in all the way. I fumbled around with it for a second, wasn't sure whether or not I pushed it in farther than it was, and now, whether I did anything to it or not, it's at 95% and charging.

Speaking of even smaller batteries: I noticed some pictures of Devon watches:

And I like the way they look. (Yes, my friend, that's a wristwatch.) So I researched them, and found, to my great disappointment, that they run on batteries. Not the kind of batteries which are in most battery-powered watches, which have to be replaced when they run down. The Devon batteries are rechargeable. But still, ewwwww.

That's right: I'm talking about batteries being a large part of our being able to refrain from wiping out our own species, but I still don't want one in my watch. Some watchmakers agree, and manage to combine the waycool styling with a movement that runs because you wind up a spring, manufacturers like Hublot:

and Urwerk:

But maybe I'll keep Devon in mind since their batteries are rechargeable, and since we might be just this far away from running the whole planet on renewable electricity, with the help of modern battery technology.

Does Devon make mechanical timepieces in addition to the battery-powered kind? The first FAQ on their website, and I quote: "How often should I charge my Devon watch?" does not make me hopeful about that. The website gives a list of authorized retailers, which in the US includes an online watch store in addition to some brick-and-mortar locations. The online store carries a whole lot of watch brands I've never heard of. One I had heard of is Shinola (made near where I live, hugely hyped, all-battery). And they don't carry Detroit Watch Company (made near where I live, relatively tiny company compared to Shinola, lots of really nice-looking mechanical watches.)

It seems that once again I've written an essay which was supposed to be about something else but ended up being mostly about mechanical watches. What can I say, I think they're really cool.

So support battery R&D, and just maybe we'll avoid that climate-change apocalypse. In conclusion, France is a land of many contrasts.

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