back to article LIVE, my beauty, LIVE! Nokia revives dead phone with LIGHTNING powered Frankencharger

It sent a DeLorean back though time, brought Frankenstein's monster to life and nearly got Benjamin Franklin killed, but now the power of lightning has been harvested to charge a mobile phone. White-coated boffins at the University of Southampton were co-opted by Nokia to catch a 200,000-volt spark and step it down before …


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  1. Stuart Ball

    "On that note, Nokia is keen to emphasise that no-one should try this at home: pointless playing with machines of lethal power is best left to the chaps in the white coats"

    And probably Lester Haines....

  2. Mage Silver badge


    Because they can.

    1. David Austin

      Re: Why?

      We do what we must, because we can.

      1. Horridbloke

        Re: We do what we must, because we can.

        For the good of all of us (except the ones who are dead).

        1. pepper

          Re: We do what we must, because we can.

          But there's no sense crying over every mistake.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The researcher looks..

    A little disturbed and out of it.. I wonder if he's making recreational use of his experiments!

    A/C cause I live near Southampton and I don't want a 3am visit from "Dexter".

    1. BorkedAgain

      Re: The researcher looks..

      I don't know, I thought he looked a trifle pissed off that the proper research he'd like to be doing has been hi-jacked and turned into a publicity stunt by a dying mobile phone brand, probably in return for some much-needed funding. But that's just my interpretation...

      Not a/c because, although I also live near Southampton (hey neighbour!) I don't think Dexter has my address. Oh hang on, there's the door...

    2. Trevor 3

      hey neighbours

      I live near Southampton too, I'm not worried though as Dexter will get you 2 first...

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: real lightning is DC

        More like half-wave rectified AC in the way it comes on. Call it momentarily switched DC.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Archivist

            Re: real lightning is DC

            It's DC but no AC component, just fluctuations. Alternating component implies a current polarity reversal.

            I think the concept you are trying to describe is that DC has bandwidth, owing to the fact that it was switched on, and at some time will be switched off.

            Of course the demo is pure b0ll0cks. Any sensible filtering arrangement will smooth the current fluctuations. What's nice is that the phone isn't destroyed by the RF field. Perhaps that makes the point for metal cases.

  4. Crisp

    I want one for my house!

    I'm going to need a much taller chimney pot though.

  5. Gio Ciampa

    Does it use...

    ...the standard charging plug?

  6. Tom 7 Silver badge

    TTtzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzener diode?

    NT (No Terminal)

  7. returnmyjedi

    This is how Apple's Lightning connector should really behave. Or maybe it does, if those zapped Chinese folk were using a genuine one.

  8. Caesarius

    Small comfort

    Rain drops keep falling on my head

    I'm wet and fried

    At least my phone keeps charging

  9. Candy

    Weird Science

    I wonder how many (if any) of these wonderful side projects will survive the journey to the centre of the Borg?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Weird Science

      You do realise MS actually spend quite a lot on R&D, both mainstream stuff and wacky future messing about?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Might be a slight difference between the output of a 200kV transformer and lightening strike though. You know, the odd few orders of magnitude. Much easier to take that continuous 200kV transformer output and step it back down again - after all, that's done on an everyday basis by electricity grids around the world.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like some pointless advertising?

    Also does this mean you can only charge your phone outside in a storm - sounds a tad dangerous to me.

  12. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    BOFH time

    Let the boss blow up his mobile phone by assuring him that the cattle prod (beefed up) is the latest charger. Ultra-fast on the go for busy executives who cannot afford to wait for their phone to charge

    Darn, still no BOFH icon.

    Oh well

  13. MrXavia

    That scientist looks pissed off.. really did not sound happy to be doing this research with Nokia...

    'first step' and they charge a phone? I doubt it... more likely Nokia offered cash and he had to do this to get it...

    On the plus side, power from lightning is a great idea!

  14. Steve the Cynic

    "It sent a DeLorean back though time"

    If you watch the film very carefully, you'll find that lightning send the DeLorean *forward* through time, not back. ("Back" was powered by stolen plutonium if memory serves, and at the end by "Mr Fusion".)

    1. Shonko Kid

      +1 for saving me from looking like a pedantic nerd :-)

    2. Andy 17

      Pay attention now...

      "If you watch the film very carefully, you'll find that lightning send the DeLorean *forward* through time, not back. ("Back" was powered by stolen plutonium if memory serves, and at the end by "Mr Fusion".)"

      And if you watch the sequel you will note that lightning does indeed send the DeLorean back in time to the wild west

    3. Nixytech

      Really? I thought is was at the end of BTTF2 which setup BTTF3 which was set the old wild west. If you are correct time must run backwards for you. If that's the case you must have a face like the Cat from Red Dwarf after every trip to the toilet!

    4. RobDog


      A lightning bolt sent the Doc back from 1955 to 1885, at the end of Back to the Future II

  15. Frank Bough

    Well, that was worth doing.

  16. Ralph B

    Experiment #2

    Try and charge your Nokia Lumia by holding out of your car window whilst driving past street lights really fast.

  17. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

    Mmm, lightning bolts

    Crackling sounds, beautiful dance of light, smell of freshly baked ozone. What's not to like.

  18. Parax
  19. Longrod_von_Hugendong

    Shame they didnt...

    Let Balmer hold the phone whilst it was zapped - would be far more entertaining...

    (Yes, i know it was stepped down etc)

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: Shame they didnt...

      "Let Balmer hold the phone whilst it was zapped - would be far more entertaining..."

      Thus answering the question "Why did the chicken dance?"

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lightning testing

    Being slightly serious for a moment, there used to be a UK company that made lightning suppressors for telecoms and the like. They attempted to sell them to the railways to protect the data lines on electrically controlled signal boxes, but were told that lightning had never been a problem.

    God* was obviously listening and not too keen on hybris, because shortly after she zapped Westbury signal box with a massive bolt and did about £20 million worth of damage.

    My point, such as it is, is not only don't try this at home but don't try it in the office either, unless you really, really know what you are doing. And have big ceramic gas-filled surge suppressors.

    *I don't believe in God, but the God I don't believe in is female, detests patriarchy, and has an evil sense of humour, to rework Catch-22.

    1. kain preacher

      Re: Lightning testing

      THat's like saying what's the worst that could happen.

  21. Black Rat

    Money for old rope

    A circuit diagram to do this appeared in Practical Electronics over 20 years ago.

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