Saturday, August 7, 2010

TWiB met TWiT and TWiB got 500 hits

This blog post has nothing to do with anything that happened in the battery world. But it happened this week, and it happened to me, and it’s my blog so I will make this post.

Regular readers (all 3 of you) of this blog know that the name of this blog is inspired by the popular podcast This Week in Tech (TWiT) run by Leo Laporte. You can see more in my first post.

Without getting into details I got to go to the TWiT cottage (the place where they record the show) to watch a recording of episode 259 this Sunday afternoon. The name of the show is “Next Stop: Gilbert, Arizona”. You can listen to it here.

The whole process of making the episode was sort of fascinating. The TWiT cottage is in Petaluma (i.e., middle-of-nowhere North San Francisco Bay). It is basically a 4 room cottage that has been converted to a recording studio. There were 3 “watchers”, one guest on the show and Leo (there were 3 off-site guests on Skype). All 5 of us were jammed into a small room full of cameras, and recording mics. Leo was twiddling on knobs, turning things up and down, typing on his computer, AND talking all at the same time. Amazing!

Needless of say, everything said in the room is recorded and is streamed live.

The inhouse guest was Brian Brushwood (pictured below), who is a magician and fire eater (no, really!). The other guests were John C. Dvorak (who is a regular on the show and is a tech guru), Baratunde Thurston (the web editor of The Onion. You know The Onion, don’t you?), and Felicia Day (who is a star on the web series, The Guild).

When I entered the room, they were setting up for the show. I was introduced and immediately Leo and Brian started asking me questions on batteries: is there enough lithium?, is there a moore’s law of batteries?, what is happening to battery development? When the off-site guests heard who I was, they started with “should I discharge my lithium batteries all the way?”. Apparently, they don’t read my blog (sigh). Anyway, it was the perfect opportunity to plug TWiB.

Remember that all this is live. There are people out there who are listening to all this. They (apparently) heard me plug TWiB. Anyway, I was checking the stats on my blog afterwards and at 3 PM (around the time I was plugging TWiB), 500+ people logged into the site! Ah… the power of the plug.

At the end of the show, Leo volunteered to take pictures with the watchers. Here is mine with Leo. Brian is in the back doing something funny. The idea is apparently called Photo-bombing where someone in the crowd decides to ruin the great picture of your kids by doing something strange in the background. He was imitating that scenario.

Anyway, you can sum this experience up in one sentence: TWiB met TWiT and TWiB got 500 hits.



  1. Hi,
    Nice Blog. I was one of the 500 people who came to know of this from TWIT. I bookmarked it for a later read.

    I am not an expert but it feels like the battery technology is improving at a snails pace. I think this lithium chemistry will never be adequate when it comes to batteries for cars. The ultra-capacitors seem promising.

    Would you like to comment on EStor capacitors. There is blog site dedicated to follow the progress


  2. Venkat SrinivasanAugust 8, 2010 at 6:46 AM

    AB- Pace of development of lithium batteries is ~5% per year. Snail's pace? Yes. But changing chemistry is not easy. The lithium battery has a long way to go and I would not dismiss it. Doubling of the energy density would take us a long way toward our goals and I think this is possible (though hard). The question really is how many years will it take to get there.

    Ultra-caps generally refer to electrochemical capacitors (either double layer or with faradaic reactions). In my PhD I worked on these systems (NiO-based and carbon-based). They are interesting but the energy density is very low (5 Wh/kg for the best capacitor vs 190-200 Wh/kg for the best battery!). THere are many concepts that can help double or even triple this to get, say, 15 Wh/kg. But we are far far away from where we need to be and where batteries are today. Maybe these system make sense for HEVs. THe great thing about them is the infinite cycle life (read: very high). You can give this to your kids, they to their kids etc.!

    Regarding EESTOR: I'm not a electrical major so I can;t comment directly. But I have spoken to others who have a better understanding of this. Most are skeptical. I have heard that one issue is that at the voltages they want to operate at, the dielectric constant falls off so that the energy stored is not that great. Other have wondered about the voltage itself. Its been 3 years that nothing has happened. I heard from a VC that they are not getting the numbers that make it exciting, but that its better than most capacitors. I guess I'm saying that I'm skeptical.


  3. Dai,
    You can count me as a "faithful" reader. I think I have read most of what you write in here plus have read a few of the links that you post. Please up your reader count to 4!
    Maams (the original one)

  4. This might be of interest.

  5. Hi Venkat

    Make that 5 I have read your blog with great interest for a while to!

    Thanks for some great insights in the world of battery research!


  6. Congrats on the Props! Welcome to the power of social media. :)

    Saw this some time ago over Google Tech Talks on the topic of Flow Batteries in production.

    (you should see what they've done up for the topic of thorium)


  7. > TWiB met TWiT and TWiB got 500 hits.

    You ought to tweet that! I'm just sayin'.

    Faithful reader #7