Making Cheaper Solar Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy aims to bring down the cost of solar electricity via a new program dubbed "SunShot," an homage to President John Kennedy's "moon shot" pledge in 1961.
The sun supplies our planet with enough energy each day to power humanity's electricity demands for an entire year, but harnessing this energy is expensive, especially compared to electricity produced by burning coal and natural gas. The Department of Energy wants to bring the price of solar power down to one dollar per watt over the next six years—a ten-fold decrease through its investment initiative called SunShot. "As part of the new SunShot initiative, DoE committed some $27 million to fund novel methods for producing solar cells and their components."
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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