Wednesday, August 19, 2009

BYBS/W: Solar Power

Solar energy power generation systems. Image courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories.

One of the things that I really enjoy in life is when people come together to solve a problem. It demonstrates humanity's ability to cooperate, and when directed towards what I consider to be an intelligent and noble goal, it makes me feel good to be alive.

One problem that we face is the need for clean, cheap, renewable energy. Pictured here is a system that focuses sunlight to run a highly efficient electrical power generator.

Most of the technologies involved with a system like this are not new. The Stirling engine, for example, was invented in 1816. The notion of using mirrors to focus the energy of the sun has probably been around since there were mirrors. Using a computer to keep the dish pointed at the sun is probably the most recent creation.

This particular system may not be "the answer" or even a significant part of it. Some other approach could do the job better or cheaper or cleaner.

The thing that makes this remarkable to me is that it took a lot of thoughtful work to put all these elements together towards a common, relatively noble goal.

This link will take you to the full story on the system. It was created by the folks at Sandia Ntional Laboratories, Stirling Energy Systems and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

BYBS: Shared Emotion

There is an interesting that I perceive in all human beings to, in some situations, to experience or feel the same way.

People like to go to movies and laugh at the same joke or feel scared at the same scene or sad at the same point. Regardless of what you think of laugh tracks or music that underscores the emotional significance of a particular situation, such things are prevalent on TV shows.

In my particular case the previous week (hey, better late then never), I was reading a poem that talked about a particular feeling of dread when faced with a certain realization. For some reason, feeling that the author understood my reaction was profoundly comforting: the knowledge that I was not alone in experiencing this made me feel reassured.

It is an odd thing that I should take comfort in the company of others this way. The author was no there, I could not interact with them to be reassured, but this feeling of shared experience was there none the less.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

BYBS: Stuck in a Rut

There are some people who might think that being stuck in a rut is a bad thing. Then again, there are some people who would start measuring the thing to see if their furniture would fit. I, on the other hand, would have already moved in.

Some days I have a hard time coming up with something to write for BYBS. I am pretty sure that taking a moment in my week and writing about something positive is a good idea, but my muse, a tired, cranky soul who would really prefer helping the likes of H.P. Lovecraft or Stephen King, does not always cooperate.

For times like this, I find that the force of habit, inertia, the will of the ball, call it what you will, can step in. Unlike a muse, which needs time, attention and cultivation, the blundering force of habit is not about to put up with the aloof antics that sometimes block me.

"But the posting won't be any good." I will protest.

"That's never stopped you before!"

Can't argue with that.

So what the hey --- here is to that which has helped me keep doing what I need to be doing.