Dianne Harris at the Kinetica Art Fair 2011 in London

I ran across this very cool art installation while looking up info about the Kinetica Artfair in London – an artist named Dianne Harris had some pretty incredible fluorescent sculpture to see and appreciate.

Listen, you have to check out Dianne’s website – I kinda want to buy this woman a drink!

Check out some images from her work at this year’s Kinetica Artfair:

All pictures from Alex Robinson, c/o Kinetica Art Fair.

Thanks, NotCot!

The Anti-Laser – Scientists Discover How to Cancel Out a Laser Beam

Whoa – a laser story that doesn’t involve someone mounting a man-killing laser on top of some kind of vehicle?!  SAY IT AIN’T SO!

Professor Douglas Stone and his team of Yale scientists have discovered a way to get material to nearly completely absorb laser light.  They’ve developed this thing – more of a material, really – called a CPA, or Coherent Perfect Absorber.  What it seems the team has done is to take the Law of Conservation of Energy and used it to their advantage.  Do we all remember the Law of Conservation of Energy?

Energy can not be created or destroyed – it can only change form.

So what the scientists have done here, in layman’s terms, is that they’ve figured out a way to get laser light to basically be absorbed into a medium by waiting until that laser light bounces around this little silicon chamber until its energy changes forms to heat energy.  Stone and his team used a silicon structure to basically take beams of laser light and capture them in this silicon medium until they change form to heat energy.  Right now his team says that they can capture 99.4% of the light through absorption, but their Coherent Perfect Absorber will potentially be able to capture 99.99% of the laser light shone into the CPA.

Why this is significant is that silicon is already being used in the semiconductor industry in computers – this new technology from Yale and Douglas Stone’s team has potentially many, many uses in computing – the hope is that they’ll be able to use these tech as a way to make microswitches and other types of computer components.  Hey, using light instead of electrons?  Awesome!

Very cool!

Thanks CTV, BBC, PopSci, and NewScientist!

From the WTF File: Xcel Energy Drops Out of Colorado’s Solar Market

In a move that is less than popular, energy company Xcel Energy has pulled its support out of the Colorado solar energy market.  You might remember Xcel Energy from a story I wrote back in 2009 about how Xcel Energy was charging solar customers who were using their solar panels to make electricity but not drawing power from the power grid.  I thought that was kind of a pretty rude move.

This one is yet another unpopular decision by Xcel Energy.  I find it kind of hilarious that their catch phrase is “Responsible by Nature.”

So back in 2004, Colorado voters passed Amendment 37 – the amendment says that by 2015, Colorado’s energy market will have 10% of the total contribution be from renewable energy sources.  At the time in 2004, 95% of the energy coming to the grid was from fossil fuels (coal and gas), and only 2% was from renewable energy sources.  From an article at Inhabitat:

Ammendment 37 was passed by Colorado voters in 2004 and required that public utility companies set aside money for a renewable energy portfolio. A small percentage of that power needed to be installed on consumer roofs where demand was great. Many companies opened shop or grew as the price of solar was cut nearly in half. As prices for solar equipment fell, and Xcel Energy met Ammedments 37′s requirements, they have gradually been able to lower the rebate amount to balance the total cost, while still maintaining a predictable pricing scheme for customers. The rebate money comes from a 2% charge on rate payer bills.

Hmm.  So what exactly does the pulling out of Xcel Energy have to do with Colorado and its future?  Well, tons, actually.  Job losses are expected to be about half of the total renewable energy jobs in Colorado, which is about on par with the entire number of fossil fuel gigs in the state.  Again, from Inhabitat:

While the solar industry was relying on a stepped approach for reducing the rebates, their sudden elimination has put nearly every planned residential and commercial project on hold. Being a capital heavy industry many solar company’s cash flow will be severely restricted, limiting opportunities for distributed generation.

One such project that was finalized the day of the announcement puts solar panels on the Denver Rescue Mission by the nonprofit Atmosphere Conservancy in order to help them reduce energy costs. Executive Director Alex Blackmer said that three solar projects the Atmosphere Conservancy finalized would have to be renegotiated and may not go forward after the announcement. Hundreds of  halted projects  will result in real job losses for a workforce that today totals more than 5,300 people and growing. Early estimates reveal that half of these jobs will be gone – more than the total number of jobs in the coal industry in the state.

Energy companies across the world: if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.  One of these days soon, the population of the world is going to get its collective head together and bring you to task for this kind of bullsh*t.  It’s time for one of these corporations to stand up and man up in order to change our future.  Profits are just profits – you all already have more money than you can possibly spend in your lifetimes – how about helping the rest of us by changing the future of the planet Earth?

Where exactly is the disconnect here, Big Oil and Coal companies?  Don’t you realize that if you switched to renewable energy sources to push on the market that you would make unbelievable amounts of money that won’t run out?  Even my neighbor’s five year old daughter realizes this fact.

Perhaps we need to let companies like Xcel Energy know how displeased we are with their decisions.  After all, a corporation by definition has rights and privvies like US citizens do.  If we made poor decisions publicly, people would call us on them, or we go to jail.  If you are affected by this decision or if you want to let Xcel Energy know how it’s doing, you should send the company an email at inquire@xcelenergy.com.

RGB Color Mixing with Atmospheric Nuclear Explosions

A cool dude named Kjetil from Twitter (@kjeik) sent me this pretty awesome and scary video from NPR – back in 1962 the United States did some atmospheric nuclear weapons testing.  It was broadcast in the news that it was going to be a neat display of color and light, so people in Hawaii sat out on their patios and watched it happen.

Crazy.

A Very Scary Light Show: Exploding H-Bombs In Space from NPR on Vimeo.

A Storm Coming – A 22 Minute Storm Approach in 80 Seconds

I love deconstruction and hyper-construction – taking something like a video shot at a certain frame rate and speeding it up to a thousand times its intended watching speed, or slowing it down so much as to examine its individual frame images.  I *love* it.  It probably goes right along with my need to take things apart and see how they work on a component level.

Here’s a video I just finished – it’s a storm coming across the horizon in Oklahoma City.  It was initially a 22 minute video that I sped up to just under 80 seconds.  I love how the light in the video slowly diminishes in the sky in color, and then in intensity as the storm diffuses the light with particles of water when humidity increases.

The music used to have lyrics, but they’re meaningless now, so I decided to record the score without them.

Check out the video – very cool!

A Storm Coming – A Storm Invades Oklahoma City from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

The Most Visited Posts of 2011 So Far – JimOnLight.com’s Top 10

I used to write these more often, but for some reason I’ve gotten away from it.  I really, really dig what other people like to read on JimOnLight.com, and I love to see what kinds of trends the JimOnLight.com Community holds.

Top Ten Most Visited Links on JimOnLight.com for 2011!

  1. The second page of JimOnLight.com!  YEEHAAA!
  2. Thomas Edison on Failure
  3. DIY Globe Cluster-esque Chandeliers
  4. Art with Shadows:  Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s Trashy Shadows
  5. The Technical Evolution of Automated Lighting:  High End Systems’ Intellaspot XT-1 and PRG’s Bad Boy
  6. Mike Zinman’s PORTFOLIO for iPhone
  7. The Gaff Tape Dress Showdown!
  8. Mindseye’s Lighting Design for Bermondsey Square – very cool!
  9. The JimOnLight.com Recommended Reading Store!
  10. Something Horribly Wrong is Going On at Wicked Lasers

Awesome!  Thank you to EVERYBODY for reading!!!

Personal JimOnLight.com – The Goatee is BACK

For some reason, I felt this was relevant – in response to a very large multi-person email conversation about my beard status:

I decided to go back to basics.  Now it’s time to get rid of some neck bacon!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Friday.  I’m just curious as to where this week has gone!  On that matter, where did 2010 go?  Did 2010 seem to just be here and then be gone to anyone else?

The Importance of Light Sources in Architectural Lighting Design Choices

I have a very interesting view from my apartment.  As you can imagine, since I’m typically only home after the sun goes down to appreciate it, I spend a lot of time gazing at the city, Oklahoma City.  I have a great view of most of downtown from my 13th floor city view condo, and I have large windows that open to air, allowing me to get great unimpeded shots of the entire area.

I take a lot of pictures of downtown Oklahoma City – it is so interesting to me to watch the city go from sunset to artificial light, almost as if it has a beating heart that only comes alive at night.  To watch the buildings flicker alive with their exterior illumination is like watching a giant living, breathing, feeling being come into its own each day as the sun goes to bed.

There is one thing that of course I would notice over all other beauty in my downtown view – poorly maintained architectural lighting.  As such a fan of great design in lighting and architecture, when I see a building that generally has aesthetically pleasing features, and then I see those features slaughtered by poorly maintained exterior lighting.  It’s kinda like falling in love with someone and getting dumped on your tukus for no reason – a major disappointment.  That example might be a wee bit extreme, but I think I get the point across – bad architectural lighting makes a city look ugly.

I think this really comes down to light source choice when planning the exterior illumination design.  As designers, we are responsible (at least in MY head) for choosing lighting that is going to not only support the architecture, but to accentuate it as well.  This comes down to many things overall – and I think one of them is being well versed in the lamp life and longevity of both lamps and fixtures that we choose to add to buildings.  If you choose poorly in your exterior lighting fixture and lamp choices, then your design is going to become the victim of maintenance.

Case in point:  Oklahoma City’s Museum of Art – I have a clear view of the building from my apartment.  What really sucks is that I don’t have a picture of the building with all of the architectural lighting working.  I’ve lived in my apartment since mid-July 2010.  Check out the building illuminated at night:

I’ve been on top of that building – changing the lamps in the architectural lighting atop the museum is not difficult because you can literally walk around and access most of the bases.  However, there have to be several thousand lamps in that design (the lamps are a bit bigger than C-9’s), and changing them what seems to be at least bi-weekly seems to be the only way to have them all work.

Would you say that this lighting design is efficiently using maintenance’s time?

Here’s another look at the structure, this time less of them are burned out:

And another with more lamps out:

Another building in town that has interesting potential (and has a pretty good record for upkeeping the architectural lighting) is the OG&E building in downtown Oklahoma City.  The OG&E building has a large swath of red fixtures lining the top of the building itself – I don’t know if they’re neon or just fluorescent with a red diffuser, but it’s generally an interesting look:

Now here’s the OG&E building when some of its fixtures are out:

Just doesn’t quite look the same, huh.

When you make design choices, always try to take into consideration what your work will look like when it’s not maintained.  I think that the aspect of a poorly maintained lighting design isn’t always taken into consideration – which leads to bigger problems in the end.

Chew on THAT!

Lighting Company Stocks, A Post Mini-Series – Should We Be Looking at Them More?

You know, there is an interesting aspect of the lighting industries as a whole that really mystifies me:  lighting company stocks.  We hear every day about how the Dow is doing, and Cramer yells and screams about Alcatel-Lucent doing this-that-or-the-other, but no one’s out there screaming about how Barco’s stock is doing (EBR:BAR) or how Chung-Hwa Picture Tubes LTD (TPE:2475) is doing lately.

Something you should be asking yourself is “really, who cares, Jim?”
(honestly, I ask myself that all the time because I can be one rambling mopho)

Well, you should care, this is your money in these industries!

Money and markets in the last few years’ American economy should go to prove how important they really are.  Our industries buy and sell each other, there are hostile takeovers in companies, and it’s all international – Barco NV (a Belgian company) owns the American company High End Systems, for example.  How much do you know about the lighting industries’ companies?  It’s kind of an amazing thing to watch – if you have something like Google Finance (which is a web stock tracker and free, duh), you can see the graphs of the stock price and see why stuff is happening, in the news articles there on the page.  Yahoo also has one – finance.yahoo.com – which is just fine too.

Here’s the other thing – and I’m speaking primarily to the college-age and high school-age people who read JimOnLight.com…

Folks, we live in a capital-driven society.  Money is what makes the world go ’round, and just like anything else, you can use it better if you read the directions, per se.  You wouldn’t operate a firearm without some instruction, right?  Would you use a woodchopper without at least glancing at the manual?  The bottom line is – kids, you’re coming into your own right directly into an economy and a market that is pretty competitive right now.  Reading into things like the markets regarding lighting can help find work.  You never know when a certain industry has a boom, like a pharmacy company for example, and they start throwing a lot of conference/convention things.  Somebody has to provide lighting and production for those events.  As my new and really cool friend Mark Hetrick from San Francisco says (and I’m paraphrasing here, Mark, I could never even pretent to repeat your genius):

“There’s always something going on in San Francisco.  You can come here and work across the gamut of entertainment lighting simply depending on what’s going on in the market.”

This is why it might just be fun to pay attention to the markets.  Isn’t that so ridiculously logical?!

Let’s start out by looking at a few stock captures from my account at Google Finance:

Right now, it looks like Barco is doing fine – this graph shows their stock price up 2.4% at the time of this capture, at $56 bucks a share.  Something that is a bit worrying to me is a comment I read in an article about Barco’s digital projector business doing unbelievably well – the comment regards their lighting business:

Barco NV, the Belgian maker of digital cinema projectors, reported the highest second-half profit in at least 10 years after ramping up production capacity and will pay a dividend for the first time in three years.

Second-half net income was 35.2 million euros ($48 million) compared with a net loss of 53.8 million euros a year earlier, the Kortrijk, Belgium-based company said today in a statement. Sales surged 61 percent to 528.8 million euros, beating the 460 million-euro average of three analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Barco plans to pay a dividend of 1 euro a share.

With fourth-quarter orders slowing to 231 million euros from a peak of 298.9 million euros in the second quarter, the surging shipments of cinema projectors depleted Barco’s order backlog to a nine-month low of 426.9 million euros. Barco, whose lighting and digital-billboard business was unprofitable last year, said it plans to “regroup and recombine” some operating divisions, details of which will be announced on Feb. 18.

Okay, hmm.  Now I am very curious to hear what the news is here.

Let’s take a look at the company developing the ESL incandescent lamp replacement – Vu1 Corporation:

Vu1 Corporation is the company that’s putting out what they claim as the “fully functional replacement for the incandescent light bulb.”  Folks, that’s a pretty big deal thing to say – CFLs sure aren’t a great replacement for the incandescent lamp, and LED A-lamp replacements aren’t there yet either.  Vu1 has a patent on their ESL technology (which means Electron Stimulated Luminescence™), but we’re still waiting on the lamps to ship.  I ordered mine almost a month ago, but I’ve not heard anything yet.

My guess is when that thing hits the market, if the technology is as good as they say, that stock is gonna freaking explode.  An incandescent replacement lamp?  Amazing.  World, I’m guessing that we need to get ready.  I’ve been wrong before (ask my ex-wife or ex-girlfriends), but I’m thinking that this could be huge.

A related and mind-blowing market is the solar market.  Holy, holy, holy crap.  The market is in a bit of an upswing – and there are a lot of companies playing in that market.  Let’s look at three companies – First Solar, Trina Solar LTD, and SunPower Corporation.

First, let’s look at First Solar – their stock is kicking some major butt right now, at $168.94 per share:

Great, right?  Well, if you’re an investor, then heck yes it’s good!  However, if you look into the news, there are some weird signs going on.  For example lately, a bunch of people have bought the option called a “put” on First Solar – a “put” option is basically a bet that the stock will decrease in value, but you then have the right to sell it at a locked in price.  It’s so freaking weird and confusing.  It generally means that people are expecting that stock to decrease in price.  Also, there’s a news article out there that says some analysts from Credit Agricole “downgraded” the First Solar stock from an “outperform” rating to an “underperform” rating.

What in the f$@# does that mean?!  Does that means something bad?  Is it something good?  To completely contradict all of that news, here’s an article about how First Solar is getting some love from the Obama Administration through their exchange-traded fund (ETF) called the Guggenheim Solar ETF.  Oh, and First Solar’s fourth quarter earnings are expected to be strong.  News is news.  It’s all information to absorb and analyze.

Now, here’s Trina Solar Limited‘s performance:

Trina Solar is doing pretty well for itself lately, it’s up a buck and a half or so over the last week.  There are news stories about oversupply threatening solar profits, for example; an analyst here says that Trina Solar stock is a good short term investment; and this guy says that Trina Solar stock is something to put in your portfolio, with a price target of $41 bucks a share.

The last in the solar category we’ll look at is the stock activity of SunPower Corporation:

This is a weird one.  Don’t get me wrong, over the last three months, this company’s stock is doing good!  It’s up almost three bucks over the three month look, and it’s showing that solar is earning despite the reports that solar demand has been exaggerated (which isn’t true or false).  But here’s a market report saying that SunPower is trading at about the middle of its high and low.  And another “however,” here’s a report saying that as of February 11 (which was last Friday), SunPower’s stock was up 4% because of California’s demand for more solar deployment.

News is a weird animal, isn’t it?  Stocks are a weird animal, too!  I find it very easy to track a company’s growth along with the reports that come out – and the news actually makes a lot more sense when we see how the lighting companies out there are competing with each other.

In the next post in the series, we’re gonna look at semiconductor stocks – you know these as LED companies like Cree and Lighting Science Group.

Stay tuned!