The Race For New Solar Technology Is On

Companies around the world are beginning to seriously consider the POWER of solar power. They are developing products that are being tested in real life as well as in experimental situations.

As with many other emerging technologies, demand is driving developers and manufacturers to address what consumers want – and that is less expensive energy.

  • In Mexico a solar dish is being tested. It is made up of multiple mirrors that focus the energy of the sun creating heat which is transmitted to an engine filled with hydrogen. The expanding and contracting hydrogen gas drives pistons which power a generator which creates electricity.
  • A new thin-film technology is being used on the windows of high-rise apartment buildings and skyscrapers to collect the sun’s power for use in the buildings. It is attractive and not nearly as expensive as regular solar panels.
  • The same thin-film or thin-membrane technology may allow solar power to be used to produce electricity in areas where it is very cold, very hot, or even when it is cloudy. This technology generates less power per area, but it also uses less polysilicon which makes it cheaper to produce and more durable and attractive as a facade for skyscrapers and the roofs of houses. Thin-film is attracting major manufacturers around the world.
  • New solar technology is using crystalline silicon cells for solar power panels. They are gradually getting smaller and less expensive. For example a tiny row of these solar power cells can run a retail store’s calculator for an entire work day and these same cells can be placed onto a roll-able mat and rolled out when needed.

One criticism of solar energy is that it cannot be relied upon for a steady supply of energy, but there are projects underway which are addressing that issue. I don’t doubt for a minute that solutions will be found very soon.

In short, solar technology is going the way of the computer industry or cell phones. The first computers filled entire rooms and did little more than crunch numbers. Now you get the same functionality available in personal computers on tiny cell phones. The main reason for this phenomenon is the invention of silicon chips. The new silicon cells for solar panels may bring a similar revolution to solar power making it a reliable, clean source of energy.

The sun is not likely to go the way of fossil fuels! Man’s ingenuity and persistence WILL find the answers! And now that universities and industry leaders are joining forces to accelerate and commercialize research in solar energy, I’m convinced that we will all be using more solar powered products in the very near future.

The New Medicine: Medical Care’s Increasing Reliance on Technology

Anyone who’s watched ER or any of the other fast-paced medical dramas on TV has seen the actors expertly manipulate all kinds of medical equipment, from intubation tubes to IVs to complex diagnostic equipment. Medicine has seen an enormous transformation, largely due to technological advances.

One piece of medical equipment [] making a big impact on diagnosis is the endoscope. A slender, flexible piece of tubing is fitted with an electronic camera assembly with superb optics and inserted into the patient’s body, supplying doctors with images of a variety of internal organs and allowing for very accurate diagnoses. Now used routinely as part of a complete physical exam for people over forty, this one piece of equipment is responsible for catching thousands of precancerous and early-stage cancer conditions in the colon alone, saving thousands of lives annually. Other advances include a camera that can be swallowed, taking pictures of the intestinal tract before it is eliminated from the body and retrieved.

Lasers are another tool coming more into their own in the operating room and, in some cases, in the doctor’s office. Ophthalmologists can perform laser surgery on patients’ eyes to repair an increasing number of eye conditions and provide more and more people with perfect vision. Laser surgery has also been used to limit damage from diabetic retinopathy, thus saving at least a portion of the affected patient’s eyesight. Lasers have been used to perform knee surgery and even brain surgery; in the latter the laser can destroy diseased brain tissue while minimizing the damage to healthy tissue. Plastic surgeons are using lasers now for a number of cosmetic procedures which are faster and less invasive than conventional surgery.

Another new technology that has entered the medical field is robotics. Mechanical devices have been created, some operated by hand, others by use of a foot pedal, still others operated electronically, which allow incredibly small and precise movements. Lasers used on the brain often have a robotic component, as do endoscopic units.

Another medical advance has come to public attention with the return of wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom have injuries requiring the amputation of arms or legs. Prosthetic devices are increasingly high-tech and high-function, allowing veterans to walk and even run with more natural movement and, with the use of mechanical arms and hands, lift and manipulate objects.

As amazing as all of these advances are, there are even more to come. Researchers are now working on a computer program which can interact with a person’s brain in such a way that the user can move a curser on a computer screen with the energy of thought. Astonishing in itself, just imagine if this new technological development is at the same stage as, say, Pac man was in comparison to the video games available today. Tomorrow’s medical developments may bring us treatments and even cures which we can’t even comprehend today.