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I know you provide "physics with a twist" but really, "Watts per hour" is a twist too far.

@Dave: Did you miss the part about being up since 4 AM? :) There's a lot of little typos and errors in wording in this post that I noticed when I finally got some sleep. They'll be corrected eventually.

That was one kick-ass blog post. Thanks so much for coming by!

Very interesting :) I've read a bit about green gyms before, and I think it's a great idea. If you can capture / feed back to the grid the energy people create using those machines, why the hell not? I wonder if I can rig up my elliptical bike-thing to power a radio (judging by what you wrote about the light bulb though, I'm thinking not...)

I'm sure I'm not the first person to point this out but...

lost in conversion sounds a lot like lost in translation.

poetry, science, Sofia Coppola, exercising...the world's not so different.

What I remember when the Prius first came out in America (around 2000) is the engineers at GM’s R&D Center baffled by its success. They had “run the numbers,” and especially considering the economic and environmental cost of the nickel hydride battery pack – manufacturing, maintenance, replacement, and recycling – the Prius (and hybrid technology for cars in general) didn’t make economic sense.

This was a narrow view, as engineering feasibility analyses often are, and it didn’t take into account the bigger picture: rising oil prices, improvements in the technology over time (the Prius is now over 10 years in commercial production), and of course the emotional impact of the Prius. Although these mechanical engineers were not experts in marketing, anyone working in the auto industry should have been aware that a car-buying decision is not entirely rational. That is, “money rational.” Jennifer has caught the flavor of this: “The Prius has made a difference, in thousands of tiny, hard-to-quantify ways.”

Basically, the “economic sound barrior” of greener technology can be broken by enthusiasm for a longer term vision. The Green Microgym seems to have been inspired by such a vision, and (as Jennifer reports in her blog) contributes to the vision, raising consciousness (to use an archaic phrase) about “how much hard work it takes to light a 60-watt bulb.”

I just want to clarify the "watts per hour" issue...I wouldn't want you to continually fall victim to the 'unit cops'. Saying "watts for every hour" is no different from "watts per hour".

A watt (power) is a rate of energy consumption, which represents 1 joule per second. A 100 watt light bulb uses energy at a rate of 100 watts. The four stationary bikes generate 200 watts of power, regardless of whether they are pedaled for an hour or only 5 minutes. It's the amount of energy (joules) produced that increases with time.

In any case, it's an informative post. I've often wondered myself why gyms don't try to benefit from all of that human-generated energy.

Hey Jen,
Have you ground-truthed your car's fuel efficency display?

"He's not the first to ponder the potential of all those city dwellers -- ahem! like me! -- spending hours upon hours running or cycling in place to stay fit and trim, like hamsters on one of those little wheels, with little else to show for it other than improved health (which, admittedly, is a valuable thing)."

True story: I watched Sean Carroll lectures (among others, from The Teaching Company) while on my treadmill at home. A little headphone amplifier, some noise-suppressing ear phones, and every word came through loud and clear over the fans and treadmill motor. How come his incipient second chin doesn't show on his photos?

This has been implemented here in the Philippines with Quezon City Jail where the inmates are required to take turns in recharging a car battery so that they could have their share with the power. If you want to see the full article you can read it here:

Wouldn't it be more economical idea if they purchased used stationary bikes instead? It would save them hundreds of dollars and fitness equipment is one of those that you can confidently buy 2nd hand. I saw this guide about used stationary bikes that might help people who plan on starting this kind of concept.

oops... wrong link. The article about the City Jail using a stationary bike to provide electricity for the inmates is located here

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    Physics Cocktails

    • Heavy G
      The perfect pick-me-up when gravity gets you down.
      2 oz Tequila
      2 oz Triple sec
      2 oz Rose's sweetened lime juice
      7-Up or Sprite
      Mix tequila, triple sec and lime juice in a shaker and pour into a margarita glass. (Salted rim and ice are optional.) Top off with 7-Up/Sprite and let the weight of the world lift off your shoulders.
    • Listening to the Drums of Feynman
      The perfect nightcap after a long day struggling with QED equations.
      1 oz dark rum
      1/2 oz light rum
      1 oz Tia Maria
      2 oz light cream
      Crushed ice
      1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
      In a shaker half-filled with ice, combine the dark and light rum, Tia Maria, and cream. Shake well. Strain into an old fashioned glass almost filled with crushed ice. Dust with the nutmeg, and serve. Bongos optional.
    • Combustible Edison
      Electrify your friends with amazing pyrotechnics!
      2 oz brandy
      1 oz Campari
      1 oz fresh lemon juice
      Combine Campari and lemon juice in shaker filled with cracked ice. Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy in chafing dish, then ignite and pour into glass. Cocktail Go BOOM! Plus, Fire = Pretty!
    • Hiroshima Bomber
      Dr. Strangelove's drink of choice.
      3/4 Triple sec
      1/4 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
      2-3 drops Grenadine
      Fill shot glass 3/4 with Triple Sec. Layer Bailey's on top. Drop Grenadine in center of shot; it should billow up like a mushroom cloud. Remember to "duck and cover."
    • Mad Scientist
      Any mad scientist will tell you that flames make drinking more fun. What good is science if no one gets hurt?
      1 oz Midori melon liqueur
      1-1/2 oz sour mix
      1 splash soda water
      151 proof rum
      Mix melon liqueur, sour mix and soda water with ice in shaker. Shake and strain into martini glass. Top with rum and ignite. Try to take over the world.
    • Laser Beam
      Warning: may result in amplified stimulated emission.
      1 oz Southern Comfort
      1/2 oz Amaretto
      1/2 oz sloe gin
      1/2 oz vodka
      1/2 oz Triple sec
      7 oz orange juice
      Combine all liquor in a full glass of ice. Shake well. Garnish with orange and cherry. Serve to attractive target of choice.
    • Quantum Theory
      Guaranteed to collapse your wave function:
      3/4 oz Rum
      1/2 oz Strega
      1/4 oz Grand Marnier
      2 oz Pineapple juice
      Fill with Sweet and sour
      Pour rum, strega and Grand Marnier into a collins glass. Add pineapple and fill with sweet and sour. Sip until all the day's super-positioned states disappear.
    • The Black Hole
      So called because after one of these, you have already passed the event horizon of inebriation.
      1 oz. Kahlua
      1 oz. vodka
      .5 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
      .5 oz. dark rum
      .5 oz. Amaretto
      Pour into an old-fashioned glass over (scant) ice. Stir gently. Watch time slow.