William Yuan, a seventh-grader from Portland, OR, developed a three-dimensional solar cell that absorbs UV as well as visible light. The combination of the two might greatly improve cell efficiency. William’s project earned him a $25,000 scholarship and a trip to the Library of Congress to accept the award, which is usually given out for research at the graduate level.
“Current solar cells are flat and can only absorb visible light,” he said. “I came up with an innovative solar cell that absorbs both visible and UV light. My project focused on finding the optimum solar cell to further increase the light absorption and efficiency and design a nanotube for light-electricity conversion efficiency.”
You know, that’s just what I was thinking when I was 12, but my idea didn’t quite work. Well, it was just a paper towel roll with “Solar Rays” written on the side in Sharpie, and I tried to use it to melt G.I. Joe figures. But still. Well done, William!
Monthly Archives: September 2008
Toyota and General Motors are neck-and-neck in the race to put a plug-in hybrid in your driveway, but they’re recycling an idea GM explored almost 40 years ago and tossed aside like a depleted battery.
The concept car with the cumbersome designation XP-883 was nothing more than an experiment relegated to history, but it worked a lot like the Toyota Prius and Saturn Vue plug-in hybrids the two companies are working on today. It was sufficiently ahead of its time for Popular Science to call it “radical” and ask, “wouldn’t it be great to have a car that changed from electric drive for use around town to gasoline power for highway driving?”
“It makes so much sense,” the magazine wrote in July, 1969, “that we feel they’re missing a bet if they don’t put it in production.”
The XP-883 looked like an Avanti hatchback or the AMC Gremlin’s prettier sister. At 122.2-inches long, 57.3-inches wide and 46.3-inches high, it was a little bigger than a Smart ForTwo and a little smaller than a Honda CRX. It had a fiberglass body for light weight, but just what it weighed has been lost to history.
The heart of the car was a 35 cubic inch (573 cc) two-cylinder engine — small enough to be exempt from the emissions rules of the day — coupled with a DC motor powered by six lead-acid batteries just like the one under your hood. You could tool around in all-electric mode or in gas-electric mode, according to PopSci. In hybrid mode, the electric motor did all the work to about 10 mph, at which point the gasoline engine took over. If you needed to really get up and go, the engine and motor worked in tandem. Still, the car was as slow as it was advanced. Top speed was just 60 mph, and it needed 28 seconds to get there — making it only slightly faster than a Citroen 2CV6.
Heiss believes that when loaded with insulin, the jewellery could replace the need for traditional injections.
“Each piece has a wearable applicator device,” she says. “A necklace which allows you to administer the patches to the skin and a series of rings which hold the patches in place once they have been administered. The clip-on earrings house a patch which presses it to the back of the earlobe.”
With the Large Hadron Collider firing up for the first time Wednesday, some critics have speculated that the world’s biggest atom smasher could spawn a black hole that would devour Earth.
Finally, I would like to share two of my favorite quotes with you. One is by Reverend Martin Luther King who said “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” The other quote is by Rudolf Virchow the public health activist and pathologist who said “Health is Politics and Politics is Health.” Cuba has showed us that a band aid approach will not eliminate disease and health care has to be in concert with a radical political and social transformation of the society. Now, Venezuela, through the Bolivarian process is addressing the injustice and inequality in health care through Mission Barrio Adentro and other social programs and this simply would not be possible if there was no political will.
Another key sector in need of massive improvements was Venezuela’s health system. Under Article 83 of the 1999 Constitution, the government was made responsible for ensuring universal access to healthcare. A few years later, Venezuela embarked upon an aggressive strategy to provide a medical doctor to every neighborhood in need. This mission began out of necessity, after too few Venezuelan doctors responded to calls by the government to provide medical services to vulnerable populations in the country. Due to the failure of the Venezuelan medical community to respond to domestic health needs, the government turned to Cuba, a nation well-known for its medical missions.
Since Barrio Adentro (Inside the Barrio) began, an estimated 20,000 Cuban doctors have come to Venezuela to deliver free medical care in poor communities, sometimes even living with residents until a community health clinic equipped with a housing unit could be built. Thousands of community-based health committees have also been established to organize door-to-door surveys to determine the needs of each neighborhood and develop a comprehensive plan for improving health. According to the Pan American Health Organization, since 2003, doctors in Venezuela have conducted over 40 million free consultations, and health professionals have held millions of educational activities that focus on improving nutrition and preventing high-risk behaviors.[ix] Barrio Adentro now has 1,600 community consultation centers throughout the country[x] and the average Venezuelan’s access to free healthcare has grown tremendously with an increase in primary care physicians throughout the country from 1,628 in 1998 to 19,571 in 2007.[xi]
The mission estimates that as of May 2007, almost 50,000 lives had been saved.[xii] Venezuelans have also been training to become community doctors; in April 2007, about 2,000 Venezuelans were awarded medical degrees.[xiii]
Whoever wins should put health care at the top of his agenda. But the central problem is not improving coverage. It’s controlling costs. In 1960, health care accounted for $1 of every $20 spent in the U.S. economy; now that’s $1 of every $6, and the Congressional Budget Office projects that it could be $1 of every $4 by 2025. Ponder that: a quarter of the U.S. economy devoted to health care. Would we be better off? Probably not. Countless studies have shown that many diagnostic tests, surgeries and medical devices are either ineffective or unneeded. “More expensive care,” notes CBO director Peter Orszag, “does not always mean better care.”
Two Japanese firms are building a solar power system to augment the diesel engines aboard a cargo ship that carries new Toyotas to the United States, a fuel-saving move that makes solar panels on a Prius look like a drop in the bucket.
Slapping photovoltaic cells on a 60,000-ton boat will cut fuel consumption by 6.5 percent, which seems paltry until you realize the average cargo ship burns 120 gallons per mile. The system Nippon Yusen KK is paying Nippon Oil Corp. $1.4 million to develop will save about 46,800 gallons of fuel carrying all those cars 6,000 miles from Japan to Califonia.
To put that in perspective, if you bought a Toyota that arrived on a solar ship with 4,999 other cars, it would have saved nine gallons of fuel before you ever even saw it.
But solar ships do more than save fuel. They also clear the air. Cargo ships burn “bunker fuel,” the truly nasty stuff that literally comes from the bottom of the barrel. It’s kind of like the Milwaukee’s Best of fossil fuels.
A study published in Environmental Science and Technology found emissions from the bunker fuel cargo ships burn may cause 60,000 deaths worldwide. Subsequent research found ship exhaust contributed as much as 44 percent of the sulphate found in fine particulate matter in the atmosphere of coastal California. Anything that cuts the amount of bunker fuel ships burn is nothing to sneeze at.
Reuters reported this morning that the worst drought in 117 years, which has been ongoing for the last ten years in the Murray-Darling river area, is not expected to let up anytime soon, scientists warn. This affects not only farmers but the global food market as well as Australia’s economy, as farmers have been hanging on for years and now find out that they should continue to prepare for the worst.
The recent rainfall in July helped boost wheat production and get over the lows of the last two years, but will still leave most fruit in serious trouble. In addition “80% of eucalyptus trees [are] already dead or stressed in a region as large as France and Germany combined.” Water levels are at their lowest since 1900 and scientists see no change anytime soon.