During the last Arctic cold wave, the outdoor sensor for the weather monitor on my desk died. After the 60-miles-an-hour winds subsided, I disconnected the sensor from the outdoor mounting bracket and brought it inside the house.
After cleaning dust, cobwebs, and other dirt from the unit, I removed the battery cover and took out the dead AA batteries. I brought out the package of Radio Shack batteries then installed them into the sensor. Next, the indoor unit needed batteries, so it received the last three out of the package. After making sure the units were synced, I reconnected the sensor unit to its outdoor bracket.
While cleaning up after the minor project, I picked up the empty bulk mega-package and remembered that I had just used the last of my Radio Shack AA batteries. There would be no more because the Radio Shack store had gone out of business in 2017. The empty package was the last one out of the two I bought during the liquidation sale. I miss having a Radio Shack store because they were the only place in town to buy arcane electronic gear. They also stocked batteries for every conceivable need. I’m still unhappy that most Radio Shack stores went out of business.
The above scenario came to mind because today is Alessandro Volta’s birthday. He is credited with inventing the very first electric battery–the “voltaic pile”. His development allowed scientists and inventors to utilize steady flows of electric current (DC) for the first time. Technology never looked the same after Volta’s invention.
Volta lived from 1745 until 1827. During his lifetime, Volta was involved in many discoveries and developments. He was the first to isolate methane gas. He also discovered that mixing methane with regular air and an electric spark caused an explosion. We utilize this every time we run the internal combustion engines in our vehicles.
Volta’s main work involved electricity. As mentioned above, he discovered “contact electricity” using contact between different metals. A lot of Volta’s research involved electromotive potentials in his batteries and energy potential in capacitors. Because Volta contributed greatly to science, the unit of electric potential was named in his honor–the volt.
I think that Alessandro Volta would be impressed with how his invention has improved over the years. He would probably also be amazed at how batteries are used today. Almost anything that is powered by electricity can be powered by batteries. The convenience of batteries enables flashlights and energizes electric cars.
Around the house, I have plenty of battery powered gadgets like the weather monitor, some radios, my laptop, and tablet to name a few. My favorites are the battery powered wristwatches that recharge by using light.
Batteries are so ubiquitous that the word is used as a metaphor to represent human energy levels. “At least once a week, I try to have one day where I have nothing planned so I can get up and just go back to bed and lay around and recharge my batteries”–Dolph Lundgren
Thank goodness for batteries and electricity. I feel grateful for the pioneering work of Alessandro Volta.