philboy(1000+ posts)
Tue Jul-22-08 09:20 AM
Original message
Think about this for a moment before you dismiss it as a crazy idea

I was watching T. Boone Pickens' commercial last night, and I was looking at the wind turbines.

The wind turns the propellers, and that mechanical energy is converted to electricity. Pretty simple. Looking at the turbines, it does not seem to take a huge amount of wind to turn one of those things.

The theory is simple. Mechanical energy, driven by the wind, is used to power a device that makes electricity. The wind takes the place of other forms of energy (steam, coal, petroleum, etc.).

Following this concept, I started thinking about the mechanical energy that is created by human beings. Think of one of those crank radios. You turn a crank for a few moments, and that generates the electricity that is needed to power the radio for a short amount of time. In essence, the electricity is made by a generator that is powered by the human hand.

What would happen if we were to devise a way to capture the mechanical energy created by human beings and convert it to electricity? Let's say some sort of treadmill device.

To carry this theory further, lets say the government bought up huge amounts of unused land all over the country in major metropolitan areas. This land would be converted to "treadmill farms" for lack of a better term. I'm not thinking of treadmills that are used to exercise on, I am thinking of a very large treadmill type device that would be powered by several thousand people. And I'm talking several of them, on several different plots of land all over the country.

People would literally walk on these treadmills, thus creating the mechanical energy to produce electricity, thus freeing up the petroleum that is required to produce electricity in the traditional manner. If you think about it, IN THEORY, this is not much different that having a field full turbines powered by the wind.

Ok, so in theory, it sounds like it might not be impossible to create a treadmill like device that would create some electricity when powered by human beings.

Would this work as a practical matter? Let's see...

The first question many treadmills are needed across the country to make an appreciable dent in our electricity generation. Also, what is the initial capital cost of building these treadmills. I have no idea how to answer this.

Secondly, how the hell do you get people to walk on a treadmill? answer" You pay them. That is their job. To walk on a treadmill. Let's say you pay them $15/hour, which is equivalent to $30,000 per year if they did this 8 hours a day. They clock in and out, and they are paid by the hour. This would save a lot of unemployed people, and serve as a stop gap for people who temporarily cannot find work.

Third. how many people do you need, on a macro scale, to generate enough mechanical power to make a difference? I have no idea. Let's say 2 million. 2 million people times $30,000 a year equals 60 billion dollars annually, to be funded by the Government. How much mechanical energy could 2 million people create? No idea. Would it be enough to justify a 60 billion dollar annual outlay? No idea.

Ok, so I have presented a theory that is based on converting human mechanical energy to electricity, similar to wind generated power. In theory, it seems like a grand idea. As a practical matter, I have no idea since I am not an engineer.

So, if you want to flame me and call me stupid, at least provide some rationale for why this would not be possible.
You are stupid, and this is a crazy idea. :D