This is more "cartoon supervillain" than actual supervillain. Looking at an electric eel and saying, "I'll just put a bunch of them in a tank and use them to power my lair!" is the kind of thing a 12-year-old would think works. Or the Japanese.
It's the kind of person who would run a sound system on the static from cat fur.
At the Kamakura Aquarium south of Tokyo, they've set up a demonstration of a single, huge electric eel powering -- wait for it -- a Christmas tree. Yes, they used the evil henchmen from The Little Mermaid to power a freaking Christmas tree, the epitome of all that is good and right.
Our happy, tingling feeling smells like burnt flesh.
Electric eels generate electricity similar to batteries, wherein sodium and other components such as electrolytes are lined up in such a manner that they are capable of producing an actual electric shock. The eel-powered Christmas tree works in as straightforward a manner as you'd think: They put an eel in a tank, and each time it moves it generates power. Some electrodes feed the current to a Christmas tree, and just like that you've got ... a somewhat erratically powered Christmas tree.
In perhaps the most uncreative vision of the future in the history of mankind, the eel tree's inventor is quoted as saying, "If we could gather up all the electric eels from all around the world we would be able to light up an unimaginably large Christmas tree." Solve the global energy crisis? Naaah. Huge Christmas tree.
"I wish I had all the money in the world. Think of the size of wallet I would get to make!"
Still, we guess it's better than the alternative, like if he dreamed of a ten thousand square mile pit of electric eels. Or, breeding one Godzilla-sized eel. Of course if you were working your way up to either of those things, you probably wouldn't admit it. You'd probably cover it up by saying you were doing it for the greatest cause of all, something no one would question. Like, say, Christmas.
Let's face it, wires are pretty old technology. Having to physically connect your charger to a power station through a series of cords, power lines and transformers is an overly complicated system that is essentially the same method they were using 100 years ago. Shouldn't we be able to, you know, just beam the energy to where we need it?
While you're at it, Scotty, beam us a beer.
Yes, and on a small scale you already have harmless products like this that let you charge your phone without plugging it in, and here's another one that uses the same technique for a computer mouse. Surely somebody out there is thinking much, much bigger, right?
The 2009 Space Elevator Games
"And then Ted was like, 'Why don't we make a giant laser that's also a dick?"
Yep. That's why these scientists have built a laser that can transfer power nearly a mile into the sky, maybe one day making America's crumbling power grid (and yes, is it crumbling -- the American Society of Civil Engineers gave it a D+) even more obsolete. That project was done as part of a NASA contest, awarding teams for innovations in beaming invisible power over distances. The winning team was able to wirelessly beam enough power to command a robot to climb a 4,300 foot cable up to a helicopter.
The article doesn't say if the robot then climbed into the helicopter and threw out the pilot like Robert Patrick in Terminator 2. What matters is that the experts are already thinking of ways to proceed directly to the supervillain doomsday scenario stage.
For instance, another team of researchers has outlined plans for a gargantuan solar sail in space or a Dyson-Harrop satellite that, in theory, would pick up solar winds from outer space and beam them to Earth -- there's enough such energy flying through space to power the Earth many times over. They just need to perfect the beaming technology to transmit the mind-boggling amount of energy toward the planet, and to get somebody to fly a bunch of missions into orbit to build the thing. And then it will be revealed to actually be a Death Star.
Or at least a Death Pop-Tart.