The Goonies has Excellent Shelf Life

goonies poster

1985, Warner Bros.

I watched The Goonies (1985) with my sons. What’s not to love about a classic kids’ movie from the mid-1980s that was written and directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Sean Astin, Corey Feldman, and Josh Brolin?

Energy shows up not only in all the standard end-uses such as lightbulbs, refrigerators, cars, etc., but also in some unexpected ways. Affirming the cliché of the dangers of oil, the opening scene shows one of the bad guys breaking out of jail and using gasoline to fuel a fire that helps them evade capture by the authorities.

Later, when the children are in the dark underground tunnels, the boy nicknamed “Data” introduces his new invention: shoulder holster-like flashlights.  After less than a minute, the lights fade to dark, and Data explains that batteries have bad shelf life.  He succinctly captures the energy tradeoffs of batteries. They provide portable electricity in hard-to-reach places like treasure tunnels underneath criminal hangouts, but their limited energy density leaves them with a short run-time. That short shelf life remains true today as one of the most significant challenges for batteries, whether in flashlights, laptop computers, or electric cars.

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