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Storage of energy

Tuesday 26th June, 7pm-8pm GMT

This show focuses on the ‘battery’, to suggest how the storage of energy has redefined man’s place in the natural world. Since its invention in 1800 by Alessandro Volta, the battery has been viewed as a container for an inexplicable charge. Following amateur scientists, such as Giovanni Aldini, who applied a current from a powerfully charged Leyden jar to dead bodies from the local morgue, to marvel at a stray leg that would fling in the air, the battery has served as a powerful elixir of life. This experiment (the model for Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein), raised the question: is death a permanent state or can the dead be reanimated?

Today we utilise this ambiguity, surrounded by the corpses of technology, which may or may not with the aid of the battery return to life. The content of the battery thus exceeds and spills out from the container, existing to give something else power. The battery, as we know it, is not therefore only of the AA variety, but any seemingly inanimate object that has the capacity to release some contained potential. From an energy bar to a can of coke and the human body, we rely on energy storage to exist with mobility in our world as opposed to ‘plugged into the wall’.

With the aid of energy storage man has been able to reach the limits of human life; to outer space and the depths of the ocean. Without it, the technological revolution would not have occurred. As sugar batteries, vodka-gin batteries and urine batteries begin to be developed what becomes clear is that it is the battery that we must rely on, once again, to redefine the future.

Featuring: Professor Steven Connor, Dr Jon Agar, Dr Richard Barnett and Philipp Gruenewald.