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Saturday Sustainability News

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It’s Saturday again, which means that there are lots of people waking up on either A) the hung-over side of the bed, B) someone else’s side of the bed, or C) the well-rested side of the bed, which is where I woke up this morning!

This morning brings some sustainability news stories, covering solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal power wherever possible.  There’s only one reason why we can’t take ahold of sustainable and renewable energy sources right at the time when we need to develop them the most, and that’s because not enough people are stepping up.  I can’t be the only person who believes that we could all live on a planet that is consuming less power than we can generate, and where there’s enough of everything for everybody…

…or can I?

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Sustainability News

  1. The Ivanpah Solar project is over 90% complete, nearing a total of 173,500 heliostats!

  2. First Solar has 400 million in cash from their most recent stock offering…  How will they spend it?

  3. University of Florida added some solar panels to University apartment carports.  Brilliant move, UF!

  4. German community-owned solar arrays!

  5. Flattening peak and base energy prices – Analysis

  6. Conergy says Australian solar markets will grow 20% a year until 2015

  7. Goldman Sachs plans to invest in an offshore wind farm in Japan

  8. US solar market grew 76% in 2012…!!!

  9. The US leads Clean Energy mergers and acquisitions (M&A’s), Solar stays in the lead

  10. Italy reaches clean energy budget cap, stops offering tariffs on new clean energy installs

  11. Geothermal energy starts the list of US Army’s nearly ready power purchasing agreement binge

  12. Renewable energy investments focus on developing nations

  13. Solar tracking systems gain some public footing

  14. Are solar panels as inexpensive as paint nowadays?

  15. California needs 3 BILLION to finish its Energy Storage Plan

  16. New ideas for a power plant — that lives at the bottom of the ocean

  17. Ladies and Gentlemen, the first artificial photosynthesis nanosystem

  18. Solar in California breaks the 2 Gigawatt output mark!

  19. Making cheaper and more flexible silicon crystalline wafers for Solar

  20. The coming US distributed solar boom

  21. Big Coal in India takes a nibble of Solar investment

  22. Solar plane makers shows what it takes to build a solar airplane

  23. MECASOLAR from Spain leads a huge EU research and development project into Solar

  24. A strategic agreement has been met to create deployable solar panels

  25. Comcast’s “Connected Home” has smart light bulbs, web-programmable thermostats

Have an awesome sunny Saturday, everyone!

Ring of Fire! May 10, 2013’s Annular Solar Eclipse from Pilbara, Western Australia

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Source: Twitter/@Pharaoness

I just saw this, and I could not NOT post this, especially as PLASA Focus Orlando people are traveling home.

This is the annular solar eclipse that just happened in Western Australia on May 10, 2013.  I hope this brings you as much peace as it just brought me.

Ring of Fire – May 10 2013 Annular Solar Eclipse, Pilbara, Western Australia from Colin Legg on Vimeo.

This video captures the sunrise annular solar eclipse from 3 locations in the Pilbara, Western Australia, May 10, 2013.

Cameras were placed at the south west, north west limits and centreline. 3 Canon 5DmkII + 800 mm timelapse at each location and Canon 1DC + 2000 mm 4K video in the north.

A big thanks to Geoff Sims for setting up the south camera, collaborating on site location, transporting lenses and eclipse timing/position calculations.

Thanks also to Peter Nanasi for providing the lovely original score at short notice.

I’m still on the road in north Western Australia and have done the editing from a cold caravan park in bright daylight skies, so it may be a little rough around the edges. There is also some stabilization still to be done, due to wind shake, but that requires better tools than I have on my laptop. One for later when I return to Perth.

If you ever get to see an annular eclipse, I recommend going to the path limits (sunset or sunrise). All sorts of weird things happen to the Sun, right on the horizon.

Enjoy!

Colin.

Colin – https://www.facebook.com/ColinLeggPhotography
Geoff – https://www.facebook.com/BeyondBeneath
Peter – www.peternanasi.com

20 Really Awesome Facts about Solar Power

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I love discovering new facts about pretty much anything.  Any day I can learn something is an awesome day.  Any day I can learn something new about light, it’s an even better day!

Here’s 20 Really Awesome Facts about Solar Power!

  1. The first working, practical, usable solar cell was created by Bell Laboratories in 1954.  It only produced 1 Watt of energy for $250/Watt.  Now that’s Cost INeffective!
  2. Photovoltaic (PV) cells made from the silicon in 1 ton of sand can produce as much electricity as burning 500,000 tons of coal in a power plant.  Why are we burning coal again?
  3. Light that comes from the Sun takes approximately 8 minutes and 20 seconds to hit the Earth.  How’s that for light speed?  Wacka wacka!
  4. In the state of California, if we covered every available commercial and industrial roof with solar power panels, ALL of California’s electricity demand could be generated during the daytime, forever.
  5. A few hundred years ago while traveling to Africa, a scientist named John Herschel created a cooker using the Sun to cook food, inventing the first Solar Cooker.
  6. The first traceable use of the Sun as a tool was back in 700 BC, when people learned how to concentrate the Sun’s rays with the use of a magnifying glass of sorts.  As a kid I always felt terrible about the thought of burning ants, which is probably why I never joined the Military!
  7. In 1981, a man named Paul Macready produced the first solar powered plane — Paul’s plane used more than 1600 solar cells mounted on its wings.  Paul Macready flew from France to England.
  8. 2012 was an unbelievable year for massive solar collection plants.  The largest solar energy plant is the Golmud Solar Park in China, with an installed capacity of 200 megawatts.  Arguably, this is surpassed by India’s Gujarat Solar Park, a collection of solar farms scattered around the Gujarat region with a combined installed capacity of 605 megawatts.
  9. There are two types of Solar Panels for use in commercial and residential applications — Photovoltaic panels and Solar Thermal panels.  PV panels work by converting the Sun’s rays to electricity, and Solar Thermal panels work by absorbing the Sun’s heat energy to warm up water by circulating the water through it.
  10. Solar collection on its own is a carbon neutral, pollution-free method of collecting and generating energy.  The only carbon creating part of solar power is the manufacture of Solar Panels and the accessories that go into building a solar panel system.
  11. In one hour, the Sun provides more energy to Earth than the whole world uses all year.  Approximately 120,000 terawatts (TW) hit the Earth’s surface each day.  Over the course of a year, the world only uses 15 TW of energy.
  12. The diameter of our Sun is 1,392,000 kilometers across while Earth is just 12,756 kilometers across.  Earth is 109 times smaller than our Sun, and our Sun can hold over a million Earths (that is if we didn’t become like the bits at the bottom of the pan of bacon before we got all of the one million in there).
  13. In only 20 days, the Sun could match the power of all of the world’s resource stockpiles of oil, coal, and natural gas.  Why are we ruining our world with crap energy sources again?
  14. Regardless of the completely negative and destructive effects of continuous usage of oil, coal, and natural gas in the world’s countries, human civilization is very slow to adopt Solar Power to replace even one of the non-renewable energy sources.  As of September 2012, only 0.05% of the world’s power comes from Solar sources.  Doesn’t that disgust you?
  15. Of all the Solar energy that strikes Earth, only 50% is absorbed by Earth while 30% of it is reflected back into space.
  16. To date, the most efficiency that solar power manufacturers can reach is barely 47.12%.  So for all of the sunlight that burns down onto a solar panel, at best there will only be around 40% converted.  This is also a best-case scenario, and the actual percentage is considerably lower based on many factors.  Typically, efficacy of Solar panel technology is around 15%.
  17. Production of 1 kilowatt of solar energy is equivalent to burning 170 pounds of coal which releases 300 pounds of carbon dioxide.  This is comparable to preventing 15 gallons of gas from ever being used!
  18. If you cover 10,000 square miles of land in the Southwest United States, it would generate enough power to meet the energy needs of the entire country!  To silence the anti-Solar power whiners on the Internet, the US has strip-mined at least that amount for coal.  No wonder the environment is slipping.
  19. As of October 2012, Germany is using Solar power with the most fervor, followed by China.
  20. The real kicker — all current fossil fuels are just stored versions of Solar energy!

Have a great day, everyone!

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Thanks to Going Green, All Purpose Guru, Wikipedia on John Herschel, Solar Gadgets, USDoE, Explore Green Tech, St. Gobain Solar, Green Building, Renewable Power News, and International Energy Association!

Hakan Gursu’s V-Tent – A Solar Panel Car Charging Parking System?

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As everyone knows, the Sun is awesome.  It can provide more energy than the entire world uses in 500,000 years at our current industrial speed every second.  It’s really all that we need.  Ever.  For everything and anything.  We just need to be able to harness more of its power to convert to energy, and become better at the amount of sunlight that we can convert into energy.  Oh, then we have to have better storage for all of that solar energy we save.  The list is long, but distinguished.

Designer and founder of DesignNobis in Ankara, Turkey has taken the idea of utilizing solar energy in places that seem like perfect spots for such usage, and he’s gone awesomely crazy.  World, meet Hakan Gursu’s V-Tent, a concept solar car charger/parking spot.  Check this out:

This is a pretty awesome idea — park your electric car in your regular parking spot at the office, or at the store, or at a restaurant, right?  You pay your fee, the car charger opens up and covers your car.  You go about your whatever, and when you come back, presto — you’re charged, literally and figuratively.  This is a pretty cool idea!

As with anything – questions come up:

  • What happens if my car was too big or too long for the device?
  • If the parking system is in a sandy or dusty climate, wouldn’t the roll scratch my car with leftover debris?
  • What happens if I need to get into my car once the charging process has started?

Ah, it’s still awesome.  Check out some more concept images:

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Awesome work, Hakan!  Check out DesignNobis, Hakan’s team has some awesome work, and they’ve been winning all sorts of awards!

Thanks DesignBoom!

Gallons of Light – A Tesla Motors Story

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Have you heard of the Tesla “Gallons of Light” video?  A guy named Jordan Bloch, filmmaker and storyteller, decided one day while out with his girlfriend that he would — nah, you know what, here.  I’ll let Jordan tell the story:

It was November 2012, and I had just moved from New York City to Los Angeles. My girlfriend and I were walking down the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA, and I noticed the Tesla retail store.

I’d heard about Tesla, but seeing the car in person…I was floored. Beyond the car itself, Tesla was creating a network of free, solar-powered Superchargers in partnership with Solar City. This was the future of transportation.

As I looked around the store, my eyes wandered to plasma screens showing footage of the Model S. Frankly, I wasn’t impressed. Where was the cinematic flair, the story, the emotion? I knew I could do better.

As I stared at the monitors surrounding me, I saw an incredible opportunity: to create a commercial that tied together the Model S and the Superchargers.

I went home and contemplated the challenge I was up against. Where would I get a Model S for my project? A hot commodity, the car was massively backordered.

The prospect was daunting to say the least….

So he made this:

This is pretty cool — I mean other than it being a marketing campaign, which pretty much everything in our lives is, from every angle.  But Jordan, your marketing campaign is excellent.

Saturday for Sustainability News

There are so many stories out there in my newsreader today about sustainability in energy production that it’s difficult to parse them all without talking about every single one.  But if I did that, I cold have neither A) Laura or B) a life, so I have to sometimes cull the massive amount of information into manageable little chunks.  My buddy Greg told me once:

How do you eat an elephant?  One spoonful at a time.

Here’s some spoonfuls of elephant that we all need to see:

Glut of Solar Panels is a Good Thing

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From CleanTechnica, is the market’s complete over-saturation of Solar Panels actually a good thing for the market?

US Residential Solar Financing to Reach $5.7 Billion by 2016

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The fact that residential solar financing is expected to reach into the near six billion dollar mark in the US alone should warrant some jubilation.  Right?  GreenTech Solar thinks so.

President Obama:  ‘We Must Do More on Climate Change’

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Another one from CleanTechnica, Obama stated that we must do more on climate change.  But he slipped the word “pipeline” in there.  We’re to assume that Obama means the Keystone XL Pipeline; are we also to assume he;s going to cave to Big Oil like he did Big Pharma?

As a side note, Consumer Energy Report also did a nice article on Obama’s climate change talk, well worth the read.

Hydro Beats Coal and Nuclear, Which Beat Oil and Natural Gas Plants, says A Recent Study

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This article is awesome, from Next Big Future.  It’s to a PDF link of a study talking about different scenarios for environmental stability.  It’s extremely nerdy, but that’s what you should expect here!
(thanks to TreeHugger for the photo!)

And now, time to sit and enjoy life with my wife.  I swear I am going to get that right this time.

Pay As You Go Solar in South Kenya

I saw an interesting article this weekend from CNN World’s website.  A company called Eight19 has created a pay-as-you-go solar technology called IndiGo that is being deployed right now in Kenya.  Check this out, this is Simon Bransfield Garth, the CEO of Eight19.  I knew I would like this company as soon as I realized what “Eight19″ meant – it’s the time that a ray of light from the sun reaches Earth.  Here’s Simon:

Here now is a quick video of a man named Samuel talking about the benefits of his Pay-As-You-Go Solar installation:

This is some pretty cool stuff.  The solar technology that Eight19 prides themselves on is a low-manufacturing-cost solar cell printed on a plastic film.  The reason that they can have products that are so low cost is that the printing method benefits from being able to use the high-speed roll printing technology that exists in the solar printing industry.  From the Eight19 website on the benefits of printed solar technology:

So, when the customer purchases the IndiGo package for installation, they get an Eight19 solar panel that connects into the IndiGo device.  The gist of the system is this:  without the customer “topping up” their IndiGo device via their cell phone, the device doesn’t charge the battery inside the device.  From the IndiGo website:

IndiGo is an affordable solar lighting and battery charging system that brings low cost energy to off-grid communities. With IndiGo, users put credit on their solar cell, just as they would on a mobile phone. Power from the cell then charges the  battery in the IndiGo box, making electricity available for lighting or charging other devices, such as mobile phones. The top-up codes are sent securely to owners’ mobile phones as text messages. Without the codes, the system does not generate electricity.  The IndiGo 2.5W solar home lighting and charging system includes: A solar panel and IndiGo box with a charge controller and battery; an LED lamp; an adapter lead for most popular mobile phones; connecting cables; and two, one-day top-up cards.

For most Americans who haven’t been overseas or in Canada, with pre-paid cell phones, you buy minutes on what’s commonly called a Top-Up card.  No different than the ones in the USA, they’re based on minutes, all that.

So the idea here is that people in South Kenya will not have to use kerosene lamps inside their places at night to do what they have to do needing illumination.  This is a tremendous thing; one of the biggest increases of our technological development has been increasing the CRI of the light we use to do things like read and develop.  With this implementation, the people in South Kenya will be getting  some seriously higher CRI than kerosene-powered sources.  This cannot be a bad thing, right?  Hell no.  People that live in kenya are no different than people who go to Yale.  They have the same potential as all of the rest of us, especially when given the opportunity to grow with the rest of the world.  No matter where you grow up, as long as you are given the opportunity to develop, you will succeed, especially if you apply yourself.

Something that I found interesting was found in the comments of the excellent CleanTechnica article on the IndiGo system.  A user named Bob_Wallace (THE Bob Wallace? Or the Shareware guy? I kid, I have no idea) posted some email exchanges he had with Simon from Eight19.  The bolded markings are things I’d like you to pay close attention to in the paragraph:

“The cost and payoff time varies a little by country as you would expect (for example there are variations in transport costs, distribution costs and local taxes between locations). In Kenya the weekly fee is 100KSH (approx $1.10) for our “duo” product with 2 lights and phone charging.

After a period of time, the product is deemed to be paid up and the customer has the option to buy the product out for a small fee or upgrade to a larger system. Again, this period varies a little between country but is normally between 18 and 24 months.

Our initial estimates suggest that typical users save in excess of $2/week with the kerosene and phone charging costs they save, with some users saving much more than this.”

In reply to a question about how upgrades work…

“People return the old system and get a new one (with the exception of the lights/wiring unless it needs replacement, as it is pointless to take down old one only to put the same thing back). We then refurbish and reintroduce the old systems. The weekly fee for the new larger systems takes into account the fact that we have recovered some value from the old system so they pay less than if we had to cover the full cost of the new system.”

Rough math says that Eight19 is able to get people in ownership of a basic lighting/phone charging system for somewhere just above $100US.

($1.10 x 52 weeks x 2 years = $114.40)

After two years they should have free power for a few years. The battery will need to be replaced after a few years and the LEDs after several. The panel should last a lifetime or more.

This is something to check out – basically a person using the IndiGo system uses it for about two years before they’ve paid it off, at the tune of about $114.40 USD.  The figure is for their “duo” product with two lights and a phone charger that has several charger tips for different phones.  After two years they have a few years of free solar electricity conversion.  Now granted it’s only at about two watts, but it’s free where before they’d have to pay to get kerosene to charge their stuff and see in the dark.  I think this is a pretty cool idea, as does the organization SolarAid, who has partnered with Eight19 to do this project in South Kenya.  From the SolarAid press release on the subject:

Thanks to the work of SolarAid and other players in the sector over the last few years, solar lights and phone chargers have been available for some time across Africa, but the initial cost is beyond the reach of many potential customers. By offering solar power as a service, without high purchase costs, these customers can now access clean electricity for less than their current spend on kerosene. But more than this, the availability of affordable electricity stimulates social and economic development too.

I think this is a pretty cool thing that’s happening.  When you think of the costs though, I think you should just remember that the Kenyans aren’t paying in USD.  One Kenyan Shilling (KES) is worth about 1.2 pennies USD.  Consider that when you consider the cost.  For example, right now a watt of solar if you just buy the photovoltaic panel is between $2.19 USD/W (for a 60W panel) up to $5.44 USD/W (for a 130W panel).  With the rest of the gear you’ll have to buy (cables, batteries, control), you’re looking at about $8.00 USD per watt of generated electricity.  I mean, come on though – after about the first six months, collecting solar using a device and a PV panel rather than taking it from a grid situation is going to pay for itself.  The sun is free, kids.  When some company or some government starts saying hey dummies!  we’re going to charge you for solar power by making you pay us for collecting it, then I am going to freak out and be really loud about it to the world, and then the world needs to kick some corporate or government tail.  Right now, no matter where you are, you’re paying for the devices that help you collect and store electricity, not for the solar energy itself  A lot of people make cracks online about how “solar should be free,” and they are totally right.  There is nothing that stops you from inventing your own solar collecting system for your own usage; money perhaps, but as long as we’re Capitalists, money will always be an issue.  Eight19 is a company, and they’re doing what a company does, and their particular skill is making and selling solar power collecting systems.  The power companies have done the same thing essentially, you’re just paying for them to make the power, and using their lines for them to get it to you.  In the US, we pay for this power from them by the kilowatt-hour, at an average of $0.118 per 1000W/h.

What do you think?  Do the costs add up?  The prices in Kenya are about comparable to American prices according to Numbeo, if not maybe a bit cheaper overall on average.

Thanks to USEIA, IndiGo Off-the-Grid, The Times, Triple Pundit, and Numbeo!

Where’s YOUR Fibonacci-Based Solar Collecting Array?

Back a while ago I got some info about a kid named Aidan Dwyer doing some work with solar power collection. Do you remember that article? The kid, a 13 year old kid, was testing whether a flat solar panel array was as efficient in collecting solar power as a tree-based Fibonacci-sequence-spaced “tree” array that Aidan had designed. The results that were posted all over the freaking Internet were that Aidan had figured out there was something to the Fibonacci sequence and Aidan’s solar arrays based on it. Gizmodo posted, the American Museum of Natural History gave the kid an award, and it was generally pretty awesome. How could you NOT be proud of it?! When I was 13 I was just a big ball of emotions who was good at whining.

Then this guy posted on his blog that Aidan’s experiment was a no-go, and that there was no real way that any of it could be plausible. Oh whoa, Nellie. As you would expect, when the Internet finds a crack in something, the vultures come out and they start to pick. People tore the research apart, hellfire and brimstone and treacle, and yes, there were even some people who acted dickishly in comment threads. I suppose we should expect nothing but the best, but that’s not good enough in this situation. There were even arguments of religious flare.  Gimme a break.

In the beginning before the “debunking,” a pretty good quorum of blogs and magazines (and the American Museum of Natural History, no doubt, who gave Aiden an award and a provisional patent on his design) posted about Aidan’s discovery. They reposted. And reposted. And reposted. But what happens when the debunking took place? It got reposted. And reposted. And reposted.

Did anyone think to check the findings in the beginning before rushing the news out the door?  No, as is the way sometimes in journalism. Maybe we’re just so stressed and in need of some uplifting news about our young people that it didn’t get fact checked.  People called this poor kid out on his shoddy research et al, and generally acted in a pretty demeaning/discouraging manner. Not everyone, not a large percentage, but enough to make me think to myself – “how dare you discourage a young man who took an initiative to improve upon a design he discovered in observation. who do you think you are?”

What happened was the media reposted what they discovered without fact checking. Then they slammed Aidan for posting wrong information. That’s stupid. There were some very nice articles though – people were also pointing out the flaws in the research and data collection, and the data as measured. It’s ok, everybody – Aidan’s experiment was flawed. Now he knows it, we know it, and now he can get to figuring out the next connection between Fibonacci-derived structures and solar arrays. Edison, the entrepreneur that he was, said that he did NOT fail at inventing the light bulb, he discovered 2,000 ways NOT to make a light bulb. Aidan, you keep looking for the connection, even if you discover it’s not there. We’ll only know if you keep looking.

Some additional reading, mostly articles about how Aiden was mistaken:

This is Where Bad Science Starts @ Optimiskeptic
This is here Bad Science Starts @ Optimiskeptic
Was Our 13 Year Old Beloved Genius Just Proved Wrong? @ Gizmodo
Aidan’s Solar Tree Gets A Reality Check @ EarthTechling

Let me point out that there are a few things we need to keep in mind here about this whole situation before I write any further:

  1. Aidan, you are one smart dude. Way to go for having an idea and charging after it like a champ.
  2. Aidan’s a 13 year old kid who’s in 7th Grade. Cut him some slack, where’s YOUR Fibonacci-based solar collector array?
  3. Aidan drew some conclusions about data that might not have been really connectable connections, but this happens when you’re 13 and still learning about science. I gotta believe that there are kids who still think that science projects about how farts are fart-smelling are acceptable science, and teachers give them a grade to shut them up and pass them on. I’d also be interested in seeing statistics on how many 7th graders even know what the Scientific Method is and how many of them think it’s a Matt Damon movie. Aidan’s experiment had real zeal, which is a lot more than I can say for an unfortunately large number of “science” I have read lately.
  4. Our teenagers rank 17th in the world for science, and we rank 25th of 30 countries in math. Aidan wasn’t glued to The Jersey Shore, he was out there trying to make sense of the actual world around him.

Yeah, Aidan was perhaps misguided for whatever reason, he is learning science, and he is a 13 year old kid, albeit a pretty sharp one. But he’s applying as he goes. I am so proud of him for that. Instead of talking about how wrong he was, let’s do what real teachers do and help the world understand how Aidan is a pioneer. Make a mistake loudly, and the world will see it as beautiful music someday. Let me know how I can help you keep a solid interest in what you’re learning, it’s of the world’s most vital importance. And don’t forget – there is a huge consortium of people out there who are equally proud of you as I am!

There is something I have noticed over the last five years that makes me really sad, and I keep hoping that my enthusiasm for science and light will rub off on the planet. Every single time someone discovers something – an idea, a design, a way to improve something – a fundamental flaw is discovered, usually very negatively, and then the media has a field day proving how wrong the thing discovered is on all levels. When you criticize instead of thinking constructively about a problem or challenge, you shut people’s enthusiasm down. This leads to a lot of really potentially amazing solutions gone forever because the world was too interested in proving how right they were that someone else was wrong. We need to stop this, and post haste.  People, we need to get excited about science and math again.  Being wrong can no longer be a punishment, our mistakes need to be celebrated so that we can remember that mistakes are stepping stones to achievement (thanks for that by the way, Dad).  There is a very, very large margin between the number of the world’s children I’ve seen do absolutely amazing things and the number of the world’s children I’ve seen do completely detrimental things. We have to teach by example. Ideas can be wrong, designs can be improved, but we can only improve when we all come at a problem with an honest intent for improvement.

Again, congratulations for the initiative, Aiden. Let us know what else you discover. Now that we know you can, we need you to keep doing it.

Interesting bit of news on where the US ranks in some of the STEM fields here, get ready for depression though.

A Solar Condensation Water Filter – Totally Random.

I have been working so much and so frequently on a multi-float Halloween parade entry I’ve designed with so much help from co-designer Ashley Bellet (who is an outstanding costume designer, by the way).  All I can think about in my non-work-time is going camping with two good friends, Roger and Ru, so I have been thinking a lot lately about camping and the kind of nerd stuff that I like to try when camping.  It’s almost as if camping represents some kind of peaceful non-work place where there are magic bottles of Shiner Bock just begging me to drink them, and the breeze coming off of the lake is as good as zoning out in front of the TV.

Solar water condensation filters – have you seen anything like this before?  This is the kind of stuff I dreamed in my head as a kid – my folks gave me this awesome little 18X24 drafting set when I was 8 or 9, I don’t remember.  I used to draw this kind of stuff in my room with my little t-square and 30-60-90 triangle.  I also came up with a flying ninja space wagon, a large rocket that could drive my GI Joes around the house, and for some reason, plan views of my little imaginary mountain towns… OF THE FUTURE.

Do you have any idea what it is I’m rambling about here?  From Len McDougall’s The Self-Reliance Manifesto: How to Survive Anything Anywhere:

 

Another way to go about this is by taking a large container and a small container and some plastic wrap to make a sort-of crock-pot style water catcher – like this:

Nothing major, imagine a black aluminum pan or a bucket, even – and inside, a smaller jar that will collect the condensate.  Over the top of the large container should be a piece of clear (or at least very translucent) plastic wrap that acts as the “airtight” barrier between the water environment and the outside air, and a little rock.  Like, a rock – not like Lynyrd Skynyrd.  When you put the rock in the center of the plastic wrap, you’ve created a little funnel that pretty much directs the water right into the collecting container!  Now how simple and awesome is that?!

Ok.  Back to your breakfast.  Just a total random bit of my brain, interjecting itself onto the world.

 

Hot, Steamy, Sexy Solar Power – ALL NIGHT LONG!

Doesn’t that just sound like the biggest nerd pr0n video of all time?!

I just saw an article over at ThinkProgress.org about a solar power plant in Spain that is using reflected solar thermal power to heat salts that stay molten for a long time, and then using that heat during the evening hours to maintain a constant stream of collected energy to electricity for customer demand.  The idea of using hundreds of heliostats to focus daytime sun onto essentially a bucket of something to collect solar energy is not new, we’ve been doing it for a long time.  It’s always interesting, however, exactly what stories get peoples’ attention.  I’m always grateful whenever cool tech makes regular news.

PS, a heliostat is the combination of a very, very specular mirror of the planar variety (usually) that is attached to something that makes it continually point so that it is focusing its reflected beam of light onto a target.  When you put several hundred of these things together in a field shining at something like they use in solar thermal collection, you get beams of light that create some of the most intense melting heat we know on Earth.  Like this:

Here’s the video from CNN:

Thanks for the image, Wikipedia!