Solar-Panel Windows Made Possible by Quantum Dot Breakthrough

Courtesy of IBTimes:

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Researchers created transparent solar cells using quantum dots.Los Alamos National Laboratory

Windows that double as solar panels could soon be a reality following a breakthrough in quantum dot research that could have significant implications on the way the sun’s energy is harvested in the future.

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Milano-Bicocca synthesised a new generation of quantum dots that they were able to embed in a transparent polymer to capture the sun’s energy.

Quantum dots – nanocrystals made of semiconductor materials – are already used in solar panel systems due to their low-cost and mechanical properties, as well as transistors, LEDs and lasers.

“The key accomplishment is the demonstration of large-area luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) that use a new generation of specially engineered quantum dots,” said Victor Klimov, lead researcher at the Centre of Advanced Solar Photophysics at Los Alamos. Continue reading

Cargo Cult Science

Courtesy of Richard Feynman @ Columbia University:

From a Caltech commencement address given in 1974
Also in Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

During the Middle Ages there were all kinds of crazy ideas, such as that a piece of of rhinoceros horn would increase potency. Then a method was discovered for separating the ideas–which was to try one to see if it worked, and if it didn’t work, to eliminate it. This method became organized, of course, into science. And it developed very well, so that we are now in the scientific age. It is such a scientific age, in fact, that we have difficulty in understanding how witch doctors could ever have existed, when nothing that they proposed ever really worked–or very little of it did.

But even today I meet lots of people who sooner or later get me into a conversation about UFO’s, or astrology, or some form of mysticism, expanded consciousness, new types of awareness, ESP, and so forth. And I’ve concluded that it’s not a scientific world.

Most people believe so many wonderful things that I decided to investigate why they did. And what has been referred to as my curiosity for investigation has landed me in a difficulty where I found so much junk that I’m overwhelmed. First I started out by investigating various ideas of mysticism and mystic experiences. I went into isolation tanks and got many hours of hallucinations, so I know something about that. Then I went to Esalen, which is a hotbed of this kind of thought (it’s a wonderful place; you should go visit there). Then I became overwhelmed. I didn’t realize how MUCH there was.

At Esalen there are some large baths fed by hot springs situated on a ledge about thirty feet above the ocean. One of my most pleasurable experiences has been to sit in one of those baths and watch the waves crashing onto the rocky slope below, to gaze into the clear blue sky above, and to study a beautiful nude as she quietly appears and settles into the bath with me. Continue reading

The Slow Death Of The Old Global Order

Courtesy of Robert W. Merry @ The National Interest:

In the spring of 2012, The National Interest produced a special issue under the rubric of “The Crisis of the Old Order: The Crumbling Status Quo at Home and Abroad.” The thesis was that the old era of relative global stability, forged through the crucibles of the Great Depression and World War II, was coming unglued. In introducing the broad topic to readers, TNI editors wrote, “Only through a historical perspective can we fully understand the profound developments of our time and glean, perhaps only dimly, where they are taking us. One thing is clear: they are taking us into a new era. The only question is how much disruption, chaos and bloodshed will attend the transition from the Old Order to whatever emerges to replace it.”

Since publication of that special issue of the magazine, events have seemed to bolster the thesis that the current global situation and the American domestic political situation are inherently unstable, and stability will return only with the emergence of some kind of new order. Leaving aside the U.S. domestic scene for purposes of this digression, the gathering global crisis got a penetrating survey the other day from William Pfaff, the longtime geopolitical analyst for the International Herald Tribune (recently renamed the International New York Times).

Pfaff said the world faces an “international disorder unmatched since the interwar 1930s,” fostered by the ongoing Ukraine crisis, the “self-destructive forces” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, growing instability within the world of Islam, and the “serious risk of collapse” of the European Union. Pfaff notes with a small measure of relief that the world isn’t beset these days by ideological dictatorships on the march or any new waves of totalitarianism. Today’s problems, he says, are merely “confusion, incompetence, and intellectual and moral disorder.” He adds: “But these are bad enough, in an over-armed world.”

What’s most troubling about all this is that today’s national leaders seem utterly lacking in any serious consciousness of just how dangerous the global situation is. The current Ukraine crisis , for example, is the product of a long-term Western tendency (the word “strategy” hardly qualifies here, given the lack of any coherent logic involved) to push eastward through what once were the buffer territories of Eastern Europe and press right up to the Russian border. Continue reading

10 Compromises Never to Make on the Path to Success

Courtesy of The Wantrepreneur Journey::

There’s no doubt success changes lives. For better and for worse. Everybody loves a great rags-to-riches story. But nobody wants to be the star of one that leaves behind a trail of destruction and regret.

Compromise gives birth to regret. Your journey is filled with decisions and opportunities to move forward and succeed. The tricky part is that the journey doesn’t always follow the script right? Compromise and sacrifices are inevitable. And it’s a fine line between compromises that are worth it, and those that hurt us.

Here are 10 compromises never to make on your journey:

1. YOUR UNIQUENESS.

Don’t let emulation turn into imitation. It’s been said a thousand times– find a mentor, connect with a likeminded community, emulate and learn from those you look up to. The problem is, you can become so likeminded that you lose yourself. Uniqueness becomes uniformity. That different angle you bring to the game is left behind.

It’s amazing that there isn’t anyone in this universe like you- exploit it, not erase it. Don’t compromise on being different.

2. YOUR PASSION VS. PROFIT.

The guaranteed door to financial reward will present itself. But if it requires you to set aside your passion before entering, it isn’t worth it. Money without meaning doesn’t bring fulfilment. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking small jobs for the quick and easy buck, but when it comes to anything of substance- something long term, it’s gotta be driven by something you absolutely love doing. Compromise on profit, not your passion.

3. YOUR HEALTH.

The all-coffee meal-plan should set off some alarm bells. Sleep, exercise, and nutrition are easily forgotten in the daily hustle. But they are integral to our success. These compromises will quickly bite you in the backside– when your immune system is weak and you’re stuck in bed.

Nothing wrong with snacking and eating on the go, but choose nutritional ‘real’ food instead of running by the fast food joint. Exercise and sleep are crucial for your brain. You know the ideal amount to function well– it could be 6 hours of sleep, and 20-minutes a day of exercise. Whatever it is, don’t compromise on it. Continue reading

Surprising Material Could Play Role In Saving Energy

Courtesy of Megan Fellman @ North Western University:

EVANSTON, Ill. — One strategy for addressing the world’s energy crisis is to stop wasting so much energy when producing and using it, which can happen in coal-fired power plants or transportation. Nearly two-thirds of energy input is lost as waste heat.

Now Northwestern University scientists have discovered a surprising material that is the best in the world at converting waste heat to useful electricity. This outstanding property could be exploited in solid-state thermoelectric devices in a variety of industries, with potentially enormous energy savings.

An interdisciplinary team led by inorganic chemist Mercouri G. Kanatzidis found the crystal form of the chemical compound tin selenide conducts heat so poorly through its lattice structure that it is the most efficient thermoelectric material known. Unlike most thermoelectric materials, tin selenide has a simple structure, much like that of an accordion, which provides the key to its exceptional properties.

The efficiency of waste heat conversion in thermoelectrics is reflected by its figure of merit, called ZT. Tin selenide exhibits a ZT of 2.6, the highest reported to date at around 650 degrees Celsius. The material’s extremely low thermal conductivity boosts the ZT to this high level, while still retaining good electrical conductivity.

The ZT metric represents a ratio of electrical conductivity and thermoelectric power in the numerator (which needs to be high) and thermal conductivity in the denominator (which needs to be low).

Potential areas of application for the high-temperature thermoelectric material include the automobile industry (a significant amount of gasoline’s potential energy goes out of a vehicle’s tailpipe), heavy manufacturing industries (such as glass and brick making, refineries, coal- and gas-fired power plants) and places where large combustion engines operate continuously (such as in large ships and tankers). Continue reading