Silicon, Circuits, and the Digital Revolution

Spring Break Adventure  


Borrowed from Chapter 6 of The Complete Adventures of Indiana Jones:

Indiana Jones finds that spies, submarines, and Mexican revolutionaries make for one wild spring break in this fast-paced, exciting story.
Indy and his friend, Nancy Stratemeyer, whose father created the Nancy Drew mystery series, visit the fascinating laboratory of inventor Thomas Edison. The two must contend with dangerous German spies as they struggle to keep Edison's top secret invention out of the hands of hostile enemy agents...
...To keep him from getting into any more trouble, Indy is sent to visit his aunt in New Mexico. While there, he is kidnapped by Pancho Villa and swept up into the Mexican Revolution. Chaotic, free-wheeling border towns, a "Wild Bunch" style train robbery and a colorful barroom encounter with a young George Patton make for thrilling entertainment in this action-packed movie.
This is an fictional scenario based on movie characters. ©1999 Lucasfilm Ltd.

Young Indy and Nancy are meeting the famous inventor in his lab in West Orange, NJ ca 1916. Thomas A. has just confided to the two about the alkaline cell he recently developed for storing electrical energy in the form of chemicals....

"It's bound to be a success! Youngsters like you are not going to be content listening to my new phonographs at home -- surely you'll want to listen to them on the go. But there's just one difficulty..."

"Truth be told I doubt if listening to recorded music will ever muster much attention," predicted Indy.

"I'm interested in your problem, if you don't mind," Nancy interjected.

"Well it's just plain hard to tell when the cell is used up, or just tired of sitting on the shelf. If I had a simple way of telling, well heck, I could probably garner a few more patents!"

Indy's gaze fell away into his characteristic trance-like state of deep reflection. Meanwhile Nancy rummaged through her pack.

"I wonder if this might help? My father found these images on a wall in an ancient Egyptian pyramid and gave me a copy to see if I might figure out what they were about. It looks like they could be electrical testers of some sort. Perhaps you can figure out how they might work as battery testers?"

Top View
Bottom View
Click here for enlarged images.
Top View
Bottom View

Suddenly a smile slid onto Indy's face. "Hmmm... I wonder how the Egyptians knew about electricity? I smell another adventure!"


  1. Identify which modern day alkaline cell or battery is tested by each of the above devices.
  2. Employ your knowledge of simple electrical circuits to explain how each device works.
    That is, how does each device test the cell/battery for which it was designed?
  3. Write a thorough explanation that would satisfy Indy. He might especially enjoy hearing how it relates to the recent Play-Doh lab exercise. Also, since Indy is a visually-oriented learner, he might appreciate any circuit schematics you might care to offer...

Courtesy of

Indiana Jones and Thomas Edison Resources
    The Complete Adventures of Indiana Jones

    The Invention Factory: Thomas Edison's Laboratories
    Thomas A. Edison Papers
    ACCESS INDIANA Teaching & Learning Center: Thomas Alva Edison

    Battery Resources

Courtesy of
  Fun and Learning: Battery Science:
    Anatomy, Chemistry, Performance, and Inside a Battery
Timeline and Quiz
Comprehensive Battery Guide and Guide to Proper Battery Care
OEM page: lots of data!
    Primary Systems, System Comparisons

Courtesy of
  Technical Information: Battery Engineering Guide
    Advanced Formula, Energizer Firsts
    The Energizer On-Battery Tester, Life with and without Batteries

SCEN103 Comments, suggestions, or requests to
Last updated March 13, 2000.
© George Watson, Univ. of Delaware, 2000.