An antidote for Samsung schadenfreude.
From a first-hand account posted Monday by Daniel Dourvaris and widely reposted this week:
One afternoon as I was lying on my bed browsing the internet, my MacBook Pro suddenly turned off. I turned it back on and within a few seconds there was weird hissing sound, followed by white smoke and thin flames coming out of from the back…
Fair is fair, I suppose. Can’t cover Samsung’s meltdowns and ignore Apple’s—even if we’re more likely to get stuck by lightening than scorched by a venting MacBook.
But the incident made me realize that I didn’t really understand how lithium ion batteries work or why they fail so explosively.
Which eventually led me to David Pogue’s Search of the Superbattery, a deep, breezy dive into battery technology that aired Feb. 1 on PBS’s NOVA. At one point (around the 12:00 minute mark) Pogue visits a Li-ion factory, where we learn that all that separates us from thermal runaway is a thin layer of plastic.
The real fireworks start at 22:18, where Pogue visits Sandia Laboratories’ battery abuse testing lab, where Li-ion cells are crushed, overcharged and pierced with a nail. Don’t, whatever you do, try this at home.