Google has big dreams and it's much more than a search engine that it started out as. We all know the company branched off into the smartphone market with Android and is doing very well and it has a lot more up its sleeves. Google is also heavily into alternative energy.
This week in science: a very different kind of "mystery meat", the climate dangers of contrails, and and artificial leaf that does more than make your office look nicer. And robots: a robot that puts the "personal" in PC, a robot that can build other robots, and a robot that makes paper airplanes (but is not a slacker). Also, fighting fire with electricity, a floating solar power plant and T-Rex's new cousin. Stay tuned!
Yesterday we came to another major breakthrough in technology that's going to bring us a future without dependence on petroleum fuels. Last week we talked about a breakthrough in nanotech-batteries that charge in a fraction of the time needed for conventional batteries. Yesterday, scientists at the 241st Meeting of the American Chemican Society released details on a new design, an advanced solar cell married with fuel cells. Instead of transforming sunlight into stored sugars for a plant's metabolism, the artificial leaf uses the energy to transform water into hydrogen and oxygen for later combustion.
A Japanese company has developed a highly portable backup generator which uses a flexible solar panel to fit 40W of power into a 3kg package. The OS GSR-110B combines a 24W internal rechargeable battery with a 16W solar panel that pulls 1.2m from the side of the unit.
Florida Power & Light Company has announced that it has created the world's first hybrid solar energy center. The plant is called the FPL Martin Next Generation Solar Facility. The plant sits on 500 acres in Western Martin County in Florida and has a field of over 190,000 solar thermal mirrors.
According to a new report on TreeHugger.com, more hydrogen powered buildings have gone up in New York City since 2005 than anywhere else in the world. These include two of the world's largest hydrogen-powered mixed use buildings, and the first residential hydrogen-powered homes. And a residential building is being planned across the Hudson that will be the largest hydrogen powered residential tower in the world. The cost per square foot is not as high as you might think, so hydrogen power (probably in combination with solar) may become increasingly common.
The latest solar powered cell phone was just announced at Mobile World Congress in Spain, the Umeox Apollo. The phone runs on Android, and would take about 2.5 hours of sunlight for refilling the battery after daily use. This is great news if you want to go camping and not be without your smartphone. The phone is headed for production, but there is no word on when it will actually be available in the US.
The phone could also be great for travelling. But for daily use, leaving your phone out in the sun for 2.5 hours at a time probably isn't realistic. More likely, the phone would charge for 10-15 minutes throughout the day in between uses. In the event the phone goes completely dead, it would take up to 17 hours in the sun to charge it back.
19 year old Eric Jacqmain created a "death ray" using 5,800 tiny mirrors placed in a 5'9” dish mounted on a wagon chassis. When objects (including a wood plank, a metal disk, an aluminum can, and a piece of mud) were placed in the focal point, they were quickly obliterated. It's pretty doubtful that the ray could produce the HEAT of 5,000 suns (which would be 30 million °C), but maybe it could equal the brightness of 5,000 suns.
What wins wars? Fuel. Have you ever seen or read the investigation titled "Guns, Germs, and Steel?" It's all about how the most common root between all successful societies is climate zone, the ability to grow crops and settle have made all great groups prosper. Here's a microcosm of that - US Marines using solar panels, cutting their fuel consumption by 90 percent. You think groups with fewer resources have the same ability to save energy? There's a plateau these troops have reached that just make them better, isn't there? The fuel they're saving is diesel fuel, and the place they're sitting is Afghanistan.
$17 million for a self-sustainable super yacht may seem like a steal to some people. But, as many yachts have proven in the past, it's all about the features on board that make the price make more sense. For the Ocean Empire, being called the first-ever zero carbon life support vessel isn't good enough. No, the designers wanted to make sure that there's plenty of eco-friendly elements, along with plenty of room for people to live their day-to-day lives on board.