Solar Power, Harvested From Space
The idea of collecting solar energy in space and beaming it to Earth has been around for at least 70 years. English researchers now hope that it will become a reality within a few years.
What's the Latest Development?
A team of scientists from the University of Surrey, England, will test a laser that, after solar energy has been collected far above Earth's atmosphere, can beam the energy down to be stored on the surface. "The beam itself will be produced by a device called a fibre laser. This generates the coherent light of a laser beam in the core of a long, thin optical fibre. That means the beam produced is of higher quality than other lasers, is extremely straight (even by the exacting standards of a normal laser beam) and can thus be focused onto a small area."
What's the Big Idea?
The problem with collecting solar energy on Earth's surface is that so much of it gets diffused in the atmosphere. But launching and maintaining satellites to collect solar energy from space is currently too costly. "But perhaps not, if the satellites were small and the customers specialised. Military expeditions, rescuers in disaster zones, remote desalination plants and scientific-research bases might be willing to pay for such power from the sky." The idea of transmitting solar energy from space to Earth was first popularized by Isaac Asimov.
New research links urban planning and political polarization.
- Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
- Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
- People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.
- Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
- What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
- Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
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