Recently, The Atlantic reported on a very interesting interview that appeared on PBS News Hour. Syrian activist and journalist, Omar Maquad, spoke about how they MacGyvered a solution for charging their mobile phones when the military cut them off the power grid.
We used to — a glass of water with two batteries, Duracell or something else. This already exists everywhere. We use it, keep the batteries in the water for one hour or 30 minutes. Then you put the USB adapters inside the water and start charge.
Really? That sounded very fishy to me. So I asked an electrician friend of mine. He said, “No way. The voltage would be all wrong.” I called my dad, who’s a pretty savvy engineer. His response: “That sounds like bullshit.” So I decided to test it out for myself and make a video.
As you can see from the video, it very much didn’t work. After shooting I also tested the technique with salty water and with beefier 9V batteries. Nothing doing. I tested the water with a volt meter and the most power I could get was a very inconsistent 0.09 volts, which is nowhere near enough to charge a mobile phone.
So how to explain this? I have four theories:
1. They have radically different Duracells than we do.
2. He was making it up so the government wouldn’t bother shutting off the power.
3. He didn’t mention some crucial component to this trick.
4. I suck at electricity.