teen girls talking on cell phonesSorry, my dad says I have to keep talking until my battery is totally charged. Whatever.Photo: D. Sharon PruittYou know those people who are always gabbing on their cell phones, whether they’re driving, ordering at a restaurant, or shopping in an itty, bitty store? Yes, they’re pretty irksome, even hazardous, but what if their gift of gab were actually a small gift toward a fossil-fuel-free future?

Korean researchers think we may be able to talk our way out of at least some energy troubles with cell phones powered by sound waves. Using that standby found in sunscreen, zinc oxide, to turn sound waves into electricity, these scientists have heard the bells of success starting to ring in their ears. Similar to other technologies aimed at harvesting energy from walking or dancing, this concept could also turn the roar of traffic into the hum of low-carbon electrons. How sweet the sound of renewable energy.

The bad news is we’ll have a little less justification for telling off those people who never hang up their cell phones.

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