We all know how useful plastic can be. But did you ever consider it's possibilities as a battery? Well, that's exactly what scientists at Imperial College London's Department of Aeronautics did. And it seems they have succeeded. Technically, the plastic is more of a supercapacitor than a battery, but its uses are generating interest. Imagine an iPod case that could serve as its own power source - or a mobile phone, computer screen etc. Without the need for an internal battery, these items could be constructed to a much smaller size than at present. The superconductor has a much longer lifespan than chemical bateries, and can charge and discharge far more quickly. There's even talk of making clothes that can charge up while you move, and discharge heat when the weather's a bit nippy.
Imagine being aware, but not able to communicate; able to hear, but not able to respond; able to feel pain, but not able to say "stop hurting me." There are people that, according to research and personal testimony, are conscious in what is know as a Persistent Vegetative State. They can hear those around them, they feel pain, and they know they are being starved of food when their feding tube is removed.
New research has shown that there may be hope for these people. Using brain scans to show brain activity in response to external stimuli, doctors have shown that the brains of some vegetative patients respond in identical ways to healthy test control subjects with respect to questioning, stumulus, and creative imagination techniques. This is the first step to possibly opening the door for future communication with people in a Persistent Vegetative State.
While the research is still in trial stages, it should make us think about just exactly how much these patients understand, and whether we should be assuming that they feel no pain. The videos below are of a personal story, and a news report from CNN about the topic.