Because I’m working on developing a video game about electricity, I’ve been reading a lot about how batteries work, I want to put a level in the game that helps students understand more about batteries, and hopefully inspire them to push the boundaries of our technology in the future.

Galvanic_cell_with_no_cation_flow

The basic idea of a battery is shown in this picture. The Zinc atoms on the solid electrode would really be happy (have lower energy) if they can take off two of their electrons and jump into the pool of ions and be surrounded by all those attractive negative ions. The electrons they took off are now free to move if the wire is connected to the copper side, the electrons then combine with the copper in the solution and bring it out of the pool and into the solid copper electrode. Zinc loves to be in the pool so much more than copper that this process keeps happening and generates a steady light in the bulb.

This reaction is happening all around us in cars, phones, factories and everything that our lives depend on. What struck me as beautiful in how the battery works is how it connects chemistry with electricity, it highlights how nature is interconnected: chemical reactions, and the light generated from your phone are manifestations of the same basic force, Electromagnetism. The electricity from the battery is a chemical reaction that is forced to go the long way through your phone instead of just letting atoms just combining directly.

Even your brain, while engaged in the act of reading is taking in light (electromagnetic waves) and generating electric pulses in your neurons,  Maybe someday someone will help us understand how your consciousness is in some way related to these elector-chemical reactions.

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