back to article Berkeley bio-boffins' butt-blasting belly-bothering batt-teria generates electricity

Scientists have discovered that a type of stomach bug contracted from unpasteurized dairy or raw meat can produce electricity. Listeria monocytogenes is a pathogenic bacteria that causes listeriosis, a particularly nasty infection that can be fatal. Milder symptoms include diarrhea, but it can also lead to more serious …

  1. onefang

    I always wondered how the human batteries in The Matrix worked. Now we know.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Given all the hassle of having to hunt down the humans who escape the Matrix you'd think the machines could find a way to harness the bacteria directly and dispose of the pesky humans that host them.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      If they were connected to peltric sets I can see why they were kept unconscious.

    3. Timmsy

      I am not a battery

      In the Matrix humans are used for the body heat they generate which is then converted into electricity, if you recall you will have heard Morpheus mention the power produced in BTUs which is of course British Thermal Units.

      This bacteria option is far more direct and would enable the machines to dispense with humans altogether.

      1. onefang

        Re: I am not a battery

        Using humans body heat for electricity seems like a very inefficient way to generate power. Was The Matrix coded by Microsoft?

  2. Alister Silver badge

    It shouldn't be a surprise, really

    Given that all higher forms of life uses electrical signals to control muscles, communicate pain, and do the whole "thinking" thing, it shouldn't really come as a surprise that bacteria have the ability to swap electrons.

    The evolution of life from single-celled beings to multi-cellular organisms must have started from such basic building blocks, and the ability to pass electrical signals between cells is essential for that process, whether you are a bacteria or a eukaryote.

  3. msknight

    So that's how Uncle Fester did it.

    The post is required, and must contain letters.

  4. tiggity Silver badge

    Next time I get the runs

    I'll see if I can charge my mobile from my tortured guts

    1. onefang

      Re: Next time I get the runs

      So you'll be charging your iPhone from green Apple iSplatters?

  5. deive

    Can't wait until they are developed into something that can eat all my excrement and keep a battery charged at the same time!

  6. Millwright

    Do the math(s)

    500 milliAmps. The team estimate that each bacteria cell can give off about 100,000 electrons per second.

    [...] In the electrochemical chamber there are approximately 100 billion bacterial cells,

    10^5 x 10^11 = 10^16 electrons per second

    1A =~ 6 x 10^18 electrons per second -> 0.5A =~ 3 x 10^18 electrons per second

    Two orders of magnitude error. Tsk

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: Do the math(s)

      That was my first thought - one of those critters could charge my phone!

      Wonder if it was micro amps or millivolts?

    2. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: Do the math(s)

      exactly where I was going ... big jobbie error somewhere ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Do the math(s)

        The press release said it was 500 millivolts and 500 microamps.

  7. Mike Moyle Silver badge

    "Hello, customer service...?"

    I'm trying to charge my phone and I can't remember: Do I swallow the anode and shove the cathode up my ass, or is it the other way around?

  8. Steve Knox


    Soon when our batteries fail, they won't just be munitions; they'll be biological weapons...

  9. strum

    What you'll eat next will shock you!

  10. msknight

    Does the overall sotmach output voltage vary with the strength of the curry eaten the night before?

    The post is required, and must contain letters.

  11. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    "The Matrix" would have been a lot less cinematic with petri dishes fighting for freedom.

  12. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Some consolation ...

    If you are way up shit creek, at least you might be able to recharge your phone

  13. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

    Will someone please think.....

    Will someone please think about the defenceless bacteria. They are lifeforms, living, reproducing and trying to have a jolly good time of it, but some git in a lab coat is trying to stuff them into little tin cans to power your latest iGaget.

    they need a spokes-bug and join Unison or Unite to get them a fair deal.

    1. WereWoof

      Re: Will someone please think.....

      Just get P.E.T.A on the case!

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021