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What If The Sun Disappeared?

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This is a crazy subject, but vlogger VSauce (who is really Michael Stevens) really hit this one on the head!  What would happen if our Sun just…disappeared?!

WATCH THIS!

This guy VSauce has some awesome videos, check him out.  I’m all about the learnin’, as you know…

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!

Midnight Sun

Our sun is absolutely astounding, and that’s no news, especially for JOL readers. However, the grand winner of a National Geographic exploration trip through X Prize, Joe Capra, entered with a stunning video about our home star’s polar seasonal effects so delightfully, I had to share.

In areas north of the arctic circle or south of the antarctic circle, in summer months the sun can be visible for up to twenty-four hours of the day, sinking but never dropping below the horizon line. This is similar to the effect of “white nights” where latitudes as low as sixty degrees experience midnight twilight, though in white nights the sun does go below the horizon line. In his film’s narration, Mr. Capra speaks about how because of the midnight sun effect, he had almost six hours between sunset and sunrise of low-level light to shoot.

Check out Mr. Capra’s video, “Land of the Midnight Sun” (RSS readers, please click through!):

A beautiful video on the opposite effect, polar night, Jim shared here.

6:30 am Never Looked So Good

Taking the same exact photograph each day would get boring, right? HELL NO, thanks to that most spectacular lighting designer–nature. Robert Weingarten did just that, and the results are something to marvel at. It is SO important to appreciate the root of all lighting design, our sun, and these photographs prove that that star’s still got it!

Each exposure would be made at precisely the same time of day – 6:30 am – measured by one quartz clock. All exposures would be made with the lens focused on infinity and at the same aperture of f/22. Just two variables were allowed into this disciplined scheme: the shutter speed of the lens, which would be adjusted faster or slower depending on the quantity and quality of light available at 6:30 a.m. each day; and, the most variable element of all, changes in the scene that were introduced by the forces of nature.

– Weston Naef, Curator of Photographs, The J. Paul Getty Museum.

6:30 am from Malibu, CA looking across the Pacific Ocean to Santa Monica:

A Quasar with 140 Trillion Times the Water in All of Earth’s Oceans.

So, something exciting happened in the world of Astronomy and Astrophysics this last week – two groups of scientists and astronomers at CalTech discovered a mass supply of water in the form of water vapor, living at the center of a quasar called APM 08279+5255, about 12 billion light years away.  That is a lot of water.  That is also a lot of water that just happens to be hanging out in the literal middle of nowhere.

For a little perspective, that water supply is 100,000 times larger than our Sun, and it’s 7.2X10+22 miles away.  There’s about six trillion miles in a light year, and this quasar is about 12 billion light years away.  That’s 72,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles away from Earth.  So, this being the case, if we start hitchhiking now, we should make it there by – actually we’ll never make it there.  Not in our lifetimes!  At least not until we invent the Event Horizon, but from what I understand they had a bit of trouble with that ship being all possessed and everything.

Now, something to consider is that these things are way, way old when we actually see the light from them.  That light is at least 12 billion light years old, which means it took 12 billion light years to get to us.  We can measure these things with different kinds of measuring devices that look for the electromagnetic waves that move at faster speeds, like infrared and microwave, that occur “before” the visible light spectrum.  Radio waves and microwaves are very long and infrequent, compared to ultraviolet waves, which are very frequent and short.  Like this:

Okay – first and foremost, what is a quasar, exactly?  Well, honestly we don’t really know all there is to know about them, they’re so far away and of such mass that obviously all we can do is speculate and theorize.  We can observe them with radio telescopes and devices that observe the range of electromagnetic energy between infrared and microwaves (see the Z-Spec gear at the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory in Hawaii and the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-Wave Astronomy (CARMA)) as well as with very large telescopes like Hubble.  Generally, what is thought to be happening in a quasar is that a large black hole is consuming a whole lot of material in space – between 10 and 1000 sun masses per year, apparently.  That is a whole lot of material that these overweight pigs of black holes turn directly from mass to energy.  So, considering we’re completely skipping a matter form, something has to happen to the material when it’s converted to energy, and that is generally what is referred to as the quasar, or quasi-stellar radio source to the real scientists.  Check out this beautiful artist depiction of a quasar doing its thing (and the image at the top of the post is also an artist’s depiction):

Beautiful.  As the black hole eats all of the mass, electromagnetic energy (which includes visible light) emanates from the quasar.  So, quasars are powered by black holes.  Make sense?  Kinda?  In short, a quasar is a large luminous stellar body.  It’s a monster thing that happens in space, and some of the brightest ones give off more energy than a few trillion of our sun.

Here’s another video, this one explains a bit about Einstein’s Cross and some of the way that the light form quasars is altered by gravitational forces:

Quasars.  Very cool.  Now how do we equate the awesomeness of all that water vapor and the incredulous distance between us and it?

Thanks Count Infinity, Virginia Astrophysics, CalTech AstrophysicsVirginia Tech AstrophysicsUPenn, WiseGeek, and NASA!

Sunday Solar News

I quite enjoy putting all of these solar news stories together.  Is it too cheesy that Sunday and Solar start with “s,” and that they’re kind of related?

Who cares about cheesy.  Onto the stories!

Cree LEDs Light Up Dallas American Airlines Center Video Screens
(press release from Cree)

10 First Solar Deals in the US
(article from Earth2Tech)

Solar Energy Flexes its Muscles in Arizona
Big Solar Kills Kill-Solar Bill
(both articles from CleanTechnica)

Largest Solar Plant in Europe Set to Open in Italy
Solar Plant Charges Your Gadgets with the Sun’s Rays
(both articles from Inhabitat)

Apple has Patented Solar Lights for the Laptop Screen
(article from FavStocks)

University of Minnesota’s Award-Winning Solar Powered House to Be Available for Purchase
(article from UMNews)

Solar Powered Gateway for Nigerian Capital Unveiled
(article from Archinect)

Robot Builds and Tests Thin-Film Solar Panels
(article from TreeHugger)


One Week of Never-Ending Sun

Whoa.

When you live near the Poles, there are points of the day at times of the year where the Sun never goes away.  I just saw a video where someone has recorded a week of this never-ending Sun traveling through the sky.  Check it out below – very excellent!  Seems like good VJ content…

Thanks, LikeCool!

First Solar Flare of the Cycle

Scientists think they have seen the first solar flare of this solar cycle – tracked with the STEREO satellite (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) and the people at NASA, we’ve seen the first flare of solar cycle 24.  This is significant because cycle 23 was a remarkably uneventful cycle, and I suppose that scientists watching the events are pretty darned bored after a boring cycle!

From an article at the NASA site for STEREO:

The active region appears well above the sun′s equator, at about 30 degrees latitude, which indicates it is part of the new solar cycle. Activity from the previous solar cycle would appear nearer to the sun′s equator. These regions also have a distinct magnetic organization characteristic of new cycle regions.

″This is a really exciting opportunity to observe the first major outbreak of solar activity in Solar Cycle 24,″ says Joseph Gurman, the newly named project scientist for STEREO at Goddard Space Flight Center. Gurman officially takes the helm from current project scientist Michael Kaiser on June 1.

The last years of Solar Cycle 23 marked the longest and deepest solar minimum in 100 years. Its unusually small number of active regions and sunspots have led some impatient space-weather watchers to wonder if we were entering another ″Maunder minimum.″ That period, in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, saw few, if any, sunspot regions, and coincided with the deepest part of the ″Little Ice Age″ of global cooling.

If you can’t see the flare on the video, watch the upper left-hand quadrant of the sun during the video.  You’ll see a dark spot go whooshing through the glowing green aura like someone blowing a breath of air through smoke.  Pretty cool, huh?

Thanks, NASA!

Sunlight, and Why It Is Good

Daylighting is an art of architectural lighting in which efforts are made to design the largest light source in our collective reality (the sun, obviously) as an effective source of light into a building.  Is that an exact definition?  No.  Does it seems like a common sense practice?  Of course!  People have been doing it for about, well, since the advent of people.  “How do I get some light into this ol’ shack made of sticks and leaves and still stay dry when it rains?”  It’s a common issue throughout history – clerestory windows, light collectors, reflecting panels, diffusion lenses, sawtooth roofs, skylights – all devices and concepts developed to use sun for interior lighting.

Sunlight is a light source that, if you think about it for a moment, is good on many, many levels.  That feels like a very obvious thing to say, but it’s true!  Sunlight makes the plants grow, sunlight is everywhere for a decent portion of the day, sunlight feeds us Vitamin D – and most importantly, it’s free and available!

My wife and I lived in Dallas a few years ago, and in our kitchen we had a SolaTube – a sunlight pipe that fed directly into the center of the kitchen.  It was situated on the rear of the house, and it got sun for about 12-15 hours every day.  Even on rainy, overcast days the sunlight pipe provided sunlight.  We always hung out in the kitchen – the light was nice, it was healthy.  It had such high color rendering and provided detail.  Food was beautiful!

Adding a SolaTube to a room doesn’t constitute Daylighting, and I certainly would not and do not assume so – I have a high level of respect for Daylighting designers, as they can really change our environments.  But the idea of pumping in some sunlight via simple technology is a smart idea – an efficient idea.  I was doing some research on the topic of Daylighting for a post or two, and in addition to SolaTubes and other sunlight pipe systems, I found some other interesting ways to use sunlight for interior lighting.

The fiber optic approach:

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A Swedish company called Parans developed a fiber optic method of piping the sunlight collected on top of the roof of wherever the system is installed – hospitals, schools, museums, laboratories, and anywhere that you need light.  The system uses a series of fiber optic wires to run sunlight throughout whatever space in which it’s installed.  Even if you weren’t using the sun as the main lighting source in a fiber optic system, you could put the source in a place that would give you easy and quick access in the event that you have to change a lamp in the system.

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Another company that is using fiber optics to send sunlight all over the interior of a building is Sunlight Direct.  Sunlight Direct uses a Hybrid Solar Lighting system to collect sunlight as a lighting source – a device is mounted on the roof that consists of a parabolic mirror that focuses as much sunlight as possible into a photovoltaic cell.  The Sunlight Direct system maintains lighting levels inside your house as the light level changes during the day.

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Another company, Neues Licht, also produced a fiber optic system that has a beautiful form as well as an efficient function – it’s called the UFO Chandelier:

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Neues Licht’s system is not solar powered, it is completely artificial.  However, the system is designed to tuck away the light source – to hide it in a closet, or an attic, or wherever else you might think to stash it so you can get to it in a hurry.  Can you imagine, however, if Neues Licht did make it solar, or provided a solar option?  Below is a cool photograph of the UFO Chandelier underwater in an aquarium – no electricity flowing through the lines, only light – so you can put it wherever you want!

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I think that’s about enough rambling on the goodness of solar power for now.

Thanks, Inhabitat, Parans, Sunlight Direct, Moco Loco, and Neues Licht!