Imagine what would happen if we could harvest energy from the random movement of people.
This is what two MIT students recently proposed in an ingenious idea they call the "Crowd Farm." It's a concept that won them the top prize in a sustainable-construction contest in China.
James Graham and Thaddeus Jusczyk noticed how physical objects flex when people place their weight on them. Think of what happens when you walk downstairs, for example.
They then reasoned that renewable energy could be harvested where many people congregate and move around; places like airports, railway stations or stadiums.
According to USA Today the two graduate students thought about the possibilities and came up with a sub-flooring system of blocks. The blocks move slightly when the force of people's footsteps is brought to bear on them. The sliding of the blocks against one another generates electrical power.
While the concept is still too costly for practical use, the idea is stirring imaginations. Everywhere we look, it seems, we see the potential for simple forms of renewable energy based on human power.
That's exciting, because lots of little ideas like this one, put together, can make a big difference.