Scientists find new use for the much maligned Brussels sprout during the festive season
Wheeled out by the truckload at Christmas, they cause groans from the dinner table, or worse, post-lunch flatulence that makes watching the zygons in the Doctor Who Christmas special an unexpectedly interactive experience.
It is a little known fact that Edwin Starr's pacifist 1970 hit War (what is it good for?) originally targeted the humble Brussels sprout. Written in his childhood when he was banned from leaving the table unless he finished every last one, the lyrics were later changed to reflect the politics of the day. Ok, it wasn't really, but perhaps it should have been.
However, now a team of scientists and engineers have finally found a use for the miniature cabbage that could keep the dreaded vegetable off dinner plates entirely, by turning them into a power source.
The so-called "sprout battery" was launched on London's South Bank this week, producing 63 volts from 1,000 Brussels sprouts cased in five cells. According to the Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Young Engineers Fair, each sprout combines with copper and zinc electrodes to create a chemical reaction, generating a current which can be stored and used to power the LEDs on an adjacent Christmas tree.
Of course, the project is bound to raise fresh concerns that crops are being used to create power rather than food, but the engineers rightly claim that when it comes to sprouts nobody really wants to eat them anyway.