Goodenough for the BBC

It’s 36 years since German-born John Bannister Goodenough (now 94 years old) demonstrated a practical rechargeable lithium ion battery at Oxford University the successors of which let you argue with people you don’t know on the other side of the world and look at blurred photos of their food while sitting in the pub with your wife…and for some reason he hasn’t won a Nobel Prize. Goodenough is currently (pardon the pun) a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at The University of Texas at Austin and still very much active.

He was interviewed today on BBC Radio 4 Today by John Humphrys and you could almost hear Humphry’s brain blow a fuse when Goodenough mentioned the word “electrolyte”. It’s as if such an exotic word is entirely beyond someone like Humphrys…it’s not…I wonder whether he was given a short brief explaining Goodenough’s invention in simple terms perhaps with a neat glossary, it wouldn’t have been so hard and it might be useful next time he has to banter with a battery prof.

I was rather hoping to hear Goodenough announce the discovery of an entirely new fundamental physical phenomenon that would recharge portable and vehicle power, he didn’t but he did say that recent iterations in battery understanding and materials would spark new technology in about five years time – longer charge times, longer lasting batteries, batteries that don’t come with the risk of burning a hole in your pocket (in the literal and figurative sense).

You should, if you’ve paid your TV licence, be able to listen to the interview on iPlayer.