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David Emery

Charge Your iPod with Gatorade and an Onion?

By November 27, 2007

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Charge your iPod with Gatorade and an onion?Via Museum of Hoaxes: The hottest viral video of the week was posted by a guy who calls himself "Household Hacker" and purportedly demonstrates how you can charge an iPod by plugging its USB cable into a Gatorade-soaked onion. Apart from stating that the power is produced "using electrolytes derived from Gatorade or Powerade which are then stored within the cells of an onion," Mr. Hacker offers no coherent explanation for how this might work. Various folks who've tried it say it flat-out doesn't.

Simple, low-power batteries can be made using common household ingredients such as a lemon, a copper coin, and a galvanized nail. When the two metals (electrodes) are inserted into the lemon, the acidic juice (electrolyte) facilitates the release of electrons which are conducted from one electrode to the other, forming a very weak current. Several lemon batteries hooked up in series can produce enough electricity to light a small LED.

As everyone knows, Gatorade contains electrolytes in the form of sodium, but I question whether the concentration is high enough to produce the requisite conductivity, let alone enough current to power an iPod. Furthermore, unless I'm mistaken the contacts inside a USB connector are all made of the same metal, copper, so no electrochemical reaction would occur and no current would be produced in the first place.

Finally, there is every reason to believe that the Household Hacker is playing a clever little prank on us. Among his previous "instructional" videos is one explaining how to build a High-Def speaker for under a dollar using a paper plate, aluminum foil, and a penny, and another on how to power a television set with one AAA battery. What's next -- roasting a turkey with a light bulb and, uh, some blank DVDs? Yes!

In related news, Gatorade inventor Dr. Robert Cade died today at the age of 80.

Read More About It:
How to Charge an iPod Using Electrolytes & an Onion - Household Hacker
How to Power an iPod with an Onion (Not Really) - Salon.com
How Batteries Work - HowStuffWorks.com
What Is a Lemon Battery? - WiseGeek.com
How USB Ports Work - HowStuffWorks.com
Inventor of Gatorade Dies at 80 - Associated Press

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