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A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Micro-power

December 29, 2009, 7:00 AM
“The newest big thing insolar power is a set of solar panels so small that they could be mistaken for specks of glitter. Researchers at Sandia National Laboratorieshave produced “microcells” that are thinner than a human hair, which are made from crystalline silicon and use 100 times less material to generate the same amount of electricity as standard solar cells made from 6-inch square solar wafers [Inhabitat]. What’s more, the tiny solar cells could be attached to flexible materials like plastic or cloth, letting inventors dream of a solar power tie that could recharge your cell phone, or a tent that could run electric lights at night. Says lead researcher Greg Nielson: ‘With this technology, one can envision ubiquitous [solar-powered] devices.’ … In the lab, these hexagonal microcells have achieved photovoltaic efficiencies of about 15 percent, denoting the percentage of light shone on them that is converted into harvestable electricity. High-end commercial-grade solar cells can reap about 20 percent currently, though Nielson thinks the microcells can more than match this [LiveScience].”
 

Micro-power

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