The Magic of Energy

Listen 49:33
Glowing neon line Car battery icon isolated on brick wall background

(Vector V/Big Stock)

Energy fuels our lives in ways that seem almost magical. It can transform darkness into light, cold into warmth, water into ice. Of course, it’s science — not magic — but like magic, there are rules that must be followed. One of the fundamental laws of physics is that energy can never be created or destroyed, only converted from one form to another. On this episode, we explore what these rules mean for our quest to create new power sources, and for life on earth.

We hear stories about what makes batteries a feat of engineering — and sometimes its Achilles’ heel. We also hear about the ongoing quest to create “fusion energy,” and the roadblocks standing in the way.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • Esther Takeuchi — one of the world’s top energy storage scientists — explains the science behind medical batteries. Takeuchi holds a joint appointment at Stony Brook University and Brookhaven National Laboratory.
  • Clifford Johnson, a professor in the physics and astronomy department at the University of Southern California, explains the framework that defines and limits our quest for energy sources. Check out his graphic novel about science called The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe.

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