Africa: (self-powered) light at the end of the tunnel

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Africa_night_3Actor Tom Hanks is better known for his role in Forrest Gump than for his work with self-powered energy. But that might soon change, at least for some people in sub-Saharan Africa, where Hanks is funding a project that will create assorted lights and lanterns to serve an area where less than 15 percent of the population has proper lighting.

These devices work by transforming winding-up motion into electricity and in some cases one minute of winding can generate two hours of lighting. The company making the products cites several applications for its devices including enabling businesses to stay open later and increasing night-time studying hours. They can also power radios, and other devices such as the "One Laptop per Child" laptops.

Maybe with oil prices breaking $100/barrel and having much of our electricity generated from oil, these devices will become commercially viable in the west as well.

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