Observations of a Non-Scientist about Sustainable Living, Renewable Energy and the Power of the Sun.

Get Organized

WHEN SPIDERS UNITE THEY CAN TIE DOWN A LION.
-Ethiopian proverb

Save some for the next guy.


“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, March 3, 2017

Snow





"Within
A light snow
Three thousand Realms
Within those realms
Light snow falls"
Ryokan Taigu (image: Hasui Kawase)




Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams, who looks inside awakes. ~ Carl Jung
 

We have art so as not to die of the truth.    Friedrich Nietzsche
 
"Our notions about happiness entrap us. We forget they're just ideas. Our idea of happiness can prevent us from actually being happy." TNH
 

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
 "I never change, I simply become more myself." Joyce Carol Oates

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. ~ Plato

The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us. ~Voltaire
 
 
 Inline image 9

A picture is worth how many words????
 
 Inline image 8  



Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Living with a sense of purpose in life




Conclusion:

A sense of purpose in life also gives you this considerable advantage:
"People with a sense of purpose in life have a lower risk of death and cardiovascular disease."

The conclusions come from over 136,000 people who took part in 10 different studies.

Participants in the studies were mostly from the US and Japan.


The US studies asked people:
  • how useful they felt to others,
  • about their sense of purpose, and
  • the meaning they got out of life.


The Japanese studies asked people about ‘ikigai’ or whether their life was worth living.

The participants, whose average age was 67, were tracked for around 7 years.

During that time almost 20,000 died.
 
But, amongst those with a strong sense of purpose or high ‘ikigai’, the risk of death was one-fifth lower.

Despite the link between sense of purpose and health being so intuitive, scientists are not sure of the mechanism.

Sense of purpose is likely to improve health by strengthening the body against stress.

It is also likely to be linked to healthier behaviours.

Dr. Alan Rozanski, one of the study’s authors, said:
“Of note, having a strong sense of life purpose has long been postulated to be an important dimension of life, providing people with a sense of vitality motivation and resilience.
Nevertheless, the medical implications of living with a high or low sense of life purpose have only recently caught the attention of investigators.
The current findings are important because they may open up new potential interventions for helping people to promote their health and sense of well-being.”

This research on links between sense of purpose in life and longevity is getting stronger all the time:
  • “A 2009 study of 1,238 elderly people found that those with a sense of purpose lived longer.
  • A 2010 study of 900 older adults found that those with a greater sense of purpose were much less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Survey data often links a sense of purpose in life with increased happiness.
No matter what your age, then, it’s worth thinking about what gives your life meaning.”



Read More:

Find out what kinds of things people say give their lives meaning.
Here’s an exercise for increasing meaningfulness
And a study finding that feeling you belong increases the sense of meaning.

The study was published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine (Cohen et al., 2015).




A sense of purpose in life
Link: http://www.spring.org.uk/2015/12/here-is-why-a-sense-of-purpose-in-life-is-important-for-health

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Future Solar Panels Will Generate Energy From Raindrops


  April 9, 2016

A new solar cell prototype developed by a team of scientists in Qingdao, China may change the way we use solar panels in the not so distant future. 

Solar panel technology has changed the way many people bring energy into their homes, but this type of technology has always posed one concern: panels cannot output optimal power without ideal weather conditions. When you have rainy days or a lot of cloud cover, there is only so much energy that panels can store for later use. While engineers and material scientists have been able to make their efficiency far better over the years, with solar panels that store decent amounts of energy to be used when sun is not readily available, there has never quite been a development like the one discovered this year.

Chinese scientists are now able to create electricity with the assistance of raindrops. This is thanks to a thin layer of graphene they use to coat their solar cells during testing. Graphene is known for its conductivity, among many other benefits. All it takes is a mere one-atom thick graphene layer for an excessive amount of electrons to move as they wish across the surface. In situations where water is present, graphene binds its electrons with positively charged ions. Some of you may know this process to be called as the Lewis acid-base interaction.

These new solar cells can be stimulated by incident light on sunny days and raindrops when it’s raining, yielding an optimal energy conversion efficiency of 6.53 % under 1.5 atmosphere thickness irradiation and current over µA, along with a voltage of hundreds of mV by simulated raindrops.

The salt contained in rain separates into ions (ammonium, calcium and sodium), making graphene and natural water a great combination for creating energy. The water actually clings to the graphene, forming a dual layer (AKA pseudocapacitor) with the graphene electrons. The energy difference between these layers is so strong that it generates electricity.

These new all-weather solar cells are discussed in depth in the Angewandte Chemie journal.




 Link: http://sciencenewsjournal.com/future-solar-panels-will-generate-energy-raindrops/



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Was Jane Jacobs right?

Jane Jacobs’ 100th birthday

Lloyd Alter (@lloydalter)
Design / Urban Design
May3, 2016


May 4 would have been Jane Jacobs' 100th birthday. We look at her impact.

 

Was Jane Jacobs right?



In Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs took on New York's Master Builder and transformed the American City, Anthony Flint summarizes her philosophy about how cities work best:
Jacobs made four basic recommendations for successful neighborhoods: a street or district must serve several primary functions; blocks should be short to make the pedestrian feel comfortable; buildings must vary in age, condition, and use; and population must be dense. Hudson Street—unplanned in contrast to the grand housing developments of urban renewal—was a perfect example of diversity and strength in numbers, what Jacobs referred to as “eyes on the street.” Whether neighbors or strangers, people are safer in dense areas because they are almost never alone.
Jane also became a touchstone for architectural preservationists; again Flint, writing about the Penn Station battle:
Jacobs was leery of the idea of trying to freeze a neighborhood in time and put it under a kind of museum glass, but she did object to the wanton demolition of historic buildings. ...But the demolition was a turning point, as it forced many New Yorkers to recognize what Jacobs was saying: that new was not necessarily better, and that there was value—human and cultural capital—in the built environment that already existed around them.


Jane also became a touchstone for architectural preservationists; again Flint, writing about the Penn Station battle:
Jacobs was leery of the idea of trying to freeze a neighborhood in time and put it under a kind of museum glass, but she did object to the wanton demolition of historic buildings. ...But the demolition was a turning point, as it forced many New Yorkers to recognize what Jacobs was saying: that new was not necessarily better, and that there was value—human and cultural capital—in the built environment that already existed around them.
But her words are an anathema to many in the so-called market urbanist school, who see all of this preservation of older buildings as an impediment to development; as Steve Waldman explains, these market urbanists...
...argue that cities should eliminate restrictive zoning and other regulatory barriers to development, then let the free-market create housing supply. In a competitive marketplace, high prices are supposed to be their own cure. Zoning restrictions, urban permitting, and the de facto capacity of existing residents to veto new development are barriers to entry that prevent the magic of competition from taking hold and solving the problem.
Which is where we are today, with economists like Ed Glaeser, Ryan Avent and writers like Matt Yglesias and Alex Steffen persuading many that Jane Jacobs was wrong, and Felix Salmon defending crappy towers filled with rich people by saying "Better we have a living city with a couple of less-than-perfect buildings, than a stifled one governed by nostalgists and Nimbys." Glaeser has written that "An absolute victory for Jacobs means a city frozen in concrete with prices that are too high and buildings that are too low."
Toronto street viewNothing but banks and chain stores to be seen on this street/ Google street view/Screen capture
In fact, in Toronto, the city where Jane Jacobs lived the last 37 years of her life, you can see what happens if you let this happen. Yes, there is a boom in housing, with lots of relatively affordable small units that are full of a monoculture of childless young people, with the ground floor plane filled with a monoculture of chain restaurants, banks and drugstores. Because as Jane wrote in the Death and Life of Great American Cities,
[Businesses] that support the cost of new construction must be capable of paying a relatively high overhead. If you look about, you will see that only operations that are well established, high-turnover, standardized or heavily subsidized can afford, commonly, to carry the costs of new construction. Chain stores, chain restaurants and banks go into new construction. But neighborhood bars, foreign restaurants and pawn shops go into older buildings. Supermarkets and shoe stores often go into new buildings; good bookstores and antique dealers seldom do.
florence market

CC BY 2.0 Jane Jacobs/ Wikipedia
May 4 would have been Jane Jacobs' 100th birthday. We look at her impact.
In Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs took on New York's Master Builder and transformed the American City, Anthony Flint summarizes her philosophy about how cities work best:
Jacobs made four basic recommendations for successful neighborhoods: a street or district must serve several primary functions; blocks should be short to make the pedestrian feel comfortable; buildings must vary in age, condition, and use; and population must be dense. Hudson Street—unplanned in contrast to the grand housing developments of urban renewal—was a perfect example of diversity and strength in numbers, what Jacobs referred to as “eyes on the street.” Whether neighbors or strangers, people are safer in dense areas because they are almost never alone.
Jane also became a touchstone for architectural preservationists; again Flint, writing about the Penn Station battle:
Jacobs was leery of the idea of trying to freeze a neighborhood in time and put it under a kind of museum glass, but she did object to the wanton demolition of historic buildings. ...But the demolition was a turning point, as it forced many New Yorkers to recognize what Jacobs was saying: that new was not necessarily better, and that there was value—human and cultural capital—in the built environment that already existed around them.
But her words are an anathema to many in the so-called market urbanist school, who see all of this preservation of older buildings as an impediment to development; as Steve Waldman explains, these market urbanists...
...argue that cities should eliminate restrictive zoning and other regulatory barriers to development, then let the free-market create housing supply. In a competitive marketplace, high prices are supposed to be their own cure. Zoning restrictions, urban permitting, and the de facto capacity of existing residents to veto new development are barriers to entry that prevent the magic of competition from taking hold and solving the problem.
Which is where we are today, with economists like Ed Glaeser, Ryan Avent and writers like Matt Yglesias and Alex Steffen persuading many that Jane Jacobs was wrong, and Felix Salmon defending crappy towers filled with rich people by saying "Better we have a living city with a couple of less-than-perfect buildings, than a stifled one governed by nostalgists and Nimbys." Glaeser has written that "An absolute victory for Jacobs means a city frozen in concrete with prices that are too high and buildings that are too low."
Toronto street viewNothing but banks and chain stores to be seen on this street/ Google street view/Screen capture
In fact, in Toronto, the city where Jane Jacobs lived the last 37 years of her life, you can see what happens if you let this happen. Yes, there is a boom in housing, with lots of relatively affordable small units that are full of a monoculture of childless young people, with the ground floor plane filled with a monoculture of chain restaurants, banks and drugstores. Because as Jane wrote in the Death and Life of Great American Cities,
[Businesses] that support the cost of new construction must be capable of paying a relatively high overhead. If you look about, you will see that only operations that are well established, high-turnover, standardized or heavily subsidized can afford, commonly, to carry the costs of new construction. Chain stores, chain restaurants and banks go into new construction. But neighborhood bars, foreign restaurants and pawn shops go into older buildings. Supermarkets and shoe stores often go into new buildings; good bookstores and antique dealers seldom do.
florence marketLloyd Alter/ market in Florence/CC BY 2.0
Jane Jacobs did her research just by looking around and watching the sidewalk ballet, but others are now using more sophisticated methods to show that she was right. at the University of Trento and his team have examined six cities in Italy to test Jacobs' four conditions of multiple functions, small blocks, mixed age and relatively high density. Instead of eyes on the street, they used big data: Technology Review explains:
De Nadai and co have come up with a much cheaper and quicker alternative using a new generation of city databases and the way people use social media and mobile phones. The new databases include OpenStreetMap, the collaborative mapping tool; census data, which records populations and building use; land use data, which uses satellite images to classify land use according to various categories; Foursquare data, which records geographic details about personal activity; and mobile-phone records showing the number and frequency of calls in an area.
Their conclusions: “Active Italian districts have dense concentrations of office workers, third places at walking distance, small streets, and historical buildings.” Denise Pinto of Jane's Walks in Toronto tells Luke Simcoe of Metro News:
When Jane wrote about her observations of the street, she was working from her own opinions and experiences. We often don’t look at those as rigorous, but we should. The way people experience their cities is important. It comes down to how we all co-exist in this messy system of the city.
milan and rome
Marco De Nadai
It should be noted that one can build new buildings at reasonable density, keeping Jacobs' four conditions in mind. Rome and Milan and other European cities are quite dense without going tall. New buildings don't all have to be sparkly towers but can be midrise, infill, transit oriented development. Who knows, perhaps even the nostalgists and NIMBYs will welcome it.




Source: http://www.treehugger.com/urban-design/was-jane-jacobs-right.html?utm_content=buffer881ba&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer



Saturday, February 13, 2016

Trends shaping the grid of the future




Trends shaping the grid of the future


A Deloitte study finds 'alternative energy’s shift to the mainstream is largely complete and likely irreversible'

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Solar Deities


Construction for the first phase of Morocco’s Noor 1 power plant is nearing completion. Once complete in 2020, the solar farm will be the largest of its kind in the world. 

But even now, the plant’s half-million solar mirrors are already visible from space.

There’s no question that solar power is the future, an energy trend that’s fueling the development of massive solar farms in such places as California, China, and elsewhere. 

And where better to put these plants than in the desert—areas that feature plenty of sunshine and vast expanses of land that are otherwise useless and inhospitable. 

Morocco’s up-and-coming Noor 1 CSP plant is a prime example. 

The first phase of this concentrated solar power plant, which is being built in the Sahara Desert near the town of Ouarzazate, is almost finished. 

In the middle of nowhere: the plant is 10 miles from the closest town.

A Massive Solar Power Plant Is Taking Shape in the Sahara Desert

A Massive Solar Power Plant Is Taking Shape in the Sahara Desert 
A view from the ground (Credit: AP)

http://gizmodo.com/watch-a-massive-solar-power-plant-take-shape-in-the-sah-1752261396


Sun Gods and Sun Goddesses

Is it any wonder ancients worshiped the Sun?

Greek Temple of Poseidon, Cape Sounion - Harald Sund/ Photographer's Choice RF/ getty Images


In ancient cultures, where you find gods with specialized functions, you'll probably find a sun god or goddess.

Many are humanoid and ride or drive a vessel of sort across the sky. It may be a boat, a chariot, or a cup.

The sun god of the Greeks and Romans rode in a 4-horse (Pyrios, Aeos, Aethon, and Phlegon) chariot.

There may be more than one god of the sun. The Egyptians differentiated among the aspects of the sun, and had several gods associated with it: Khepri for the rising sun, Atum, the setting, and Ra, at noon, who rode across the sky in a solar bark.

The Greeks and Romans also had more than one sun god.

You may notice that most sun deities are male and act as counterparts to female moon deities, but don't take this as a given. There are goddesses of the sun just as there are male deities of the moon.



Is it any wonder ancients worshiped the Sun?

Name  Nationality/Religion  God or Goddess or ?
 Amaterasu Japan Sun Goddess 
Arinna (Hebat) Hittite (Syrian) Sun Goddess 
Apollo Greece and Rome Sun God 
Freyr Norse Sun God Not the main Norse sun god, but a fertility god associated with the sun.
Garuda Hindu Bird God
Helios (Helius) Greece Sun God Before Apollo was the Greek sun god, Helios held that position.
Hepa Hittite Sun Goddess The consort of a weather god, she was assimilated with the sun goddess 
Arinna.Huitzilopochtli (Uitzilopochtli)  Aztec Sun God 
Hvar Khshaita Iranian/Persian Sun God Earlier than Mithras.
Inti  Inca  Sun God  
Liza West African Sun God
Lugh Celtic Sun God 
MithrasIranian/Persian Sun God"Mit(h)ra(s) and the Myths of the Sun" David H. Sick. Numen (2004)
Re (Ra) Egypt Mid-day Sun God An Egyptian god shown with a solar disk. Center of worship was Heliopolis. Later associated with Horus as Re-Horakhty. Also combined with Amun as Amun-Ra, a solar creator god. 
Shemesh/Shepesh Ugarit Sun goddess 
Sol (Sunna)Norse Sun Goddess She rides in a horse-drawn solar chariot.
Sol Invictus Roman Sun God
The unconquered sun. A late Roman sun god. The title was also used of Mithras
Surya Hindu Sun God Rides the sky in a horse-drawn chariot. 
Tonatiuh Aztec Sun God
  
Utu (Shamash) Mesopotamia Sun God 




http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/sungodsgoddesses/a/070809sungods.htm



Anxiety: “My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened”. –Michel de Montaigne




Have you seen a happier #elephant before? Meet #Chanchal ! Read more about her here; http://bit.ly/1RvTbmJ 
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