Archive for July, 2018

Interesting news for everyone concerned about the world’s energy future:

Universities in the United States, Germany and elsewhere are testing the concept of “dual use farming,” as some advocates call it, where crops grow below canopies of solar panels. They are finding they grow just fine — and, in some cases, better than crops in full sun.

The article “How land under solar panels can contribute to food security” on the Ensia website details a few of the studies. One study explains how bees in Minnesota benefit from the state regulation that promotes pollinator-friendly environments, even under solar panels. Another study shows that the decrease in agricultural productivity is largely compensated by the electricity produced by the panels. Of course, putting the panels on a high structure increases the cost of such installations substantially, and no large scale experiments have yet been started to confirm the current results.

The Fraunhofer Institute’s agriphotovoltaics research facility in Germany features solar panels tall enough for farm machinery to operate beneath. Photo courtesy of Fraunhofer ISE

Perhaps we need to replace those metal frames with some sort of photovoltaic trees, in order the realise a real “agrivoltaic” future? Current “solar trees” are designed for an urban environment; surely a country variant could be constructed as well?

Anyway, transforming the energy landscape of the world is increasingly urgent. According to the MIT Technology Review, “At this rate, it’s going to take nearly 400 years to transform the energy system“…

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Bye Bye, Article 13 ?

The good news, of course, is that resistance to the new proposed European copyright directive has paid off: “A Key Victory Against European Copyright Filters and Link Taxes – But What’s Next?“.

But that does not mean the fight for better copyright laws is over, far from it. So be attentive, and don’t be afraid to make your voice heard. The European Parliament disapproved of the current proposal because so many citizens made it clear that this was not a good law!

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Visit the “Free Zehra Doğan • Zehra Doğan’a özgürlük” website for more info on this courageous young woman and here treatment by a dictatorial regime.

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Wanna Guess Who [He] Is?

From Politico:

[He] himself gave a public admission of his own tactics last week […], when he told reporters […] that he could well be wrong […]  but that, if so, he’s unlikely ever to cop to it. “I don’t know that I’ll ever admit it,” he said. “I’ll find some kind of an excuse.”

Psychologists have a word to describe such an attitude…

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The Science website has an extensive article on the life and writings of an academic of Czech descent: “Meet Vaclav Smil, the man who has quietly shaped how the world thinks about energy“.
I guess I’ll have to read at least a single book of Vaclav Smil – perhaps Bill Gates can suggest a good title to start with?

Now, Smil says, the world faces its fourth energy transition: a move to energy sources that do not emit carbon dioxide, and a return to relying on the sun’s current energy flows, instead of those trapped millions of years ago in deposits of coal, oil, and natural gas.

The fourth transition is unlike the first three, however…

You should at least read the article, if only to get confirmation that there is no simple solution to the world’s energy problems of today (and the near future)…

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As reported by BoingBoing: “Blogger gave lecture on dealing with trolls, then stabbed to death by a troll“.

<shiver />

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If you like light shows, you may want to have a look at this record-breaking show of drones in China: “EHang Egret’s 1374 drones dancing over the City Wall of Xi’an, achieving the Guinness World Records“.

(Click on the picture to watch the video on YouTube)

This is probably just the beginning of what will be possible with drones in the near future.

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In 2015 my wife and I happened to be in Sydney (Australia) at the start of the Vivid light festival, early in the evening. The weather was bad then – it rained heavily by moments – and since we were on a ferry coming from Parramatta we only got a glimpse of what the festival has to offer. But even so it was a great event, something we’ll remember for the rest of our lives – we have a few photos of that evening to keep the memory alive.

And now there is an extensive video on the 2018 version of Vivid on Youtube – it’s enough to make us want to go back there again! The projections onto the Sydney Opera House seem to have gotten even better…

(Click on the picture to see the whole video on YouTube)

Thanks Cory, for pointing us to this video.

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June 2018 Was A Dry Month

Our national meteorological institute claims that June 2018 was a month with above-average sunshine (in number of hours of sunshine), but the electricity production numbers of our solar panels do not reflect that. We got only about 92% of our average production – but at least that’s not the worst score in the June history of our installation ;-)

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BoingBoing told me all about it: the “History of Mac startup chimes“.

For the impatient among you, here are the links mentioned over there:

And there are more videos like that, each with a few machines missing, or a few extras. The weird part of this story is that I never noticed the differences, although I have owned many Macs. Probably because I heard that startup sound so often that my brain no longer actively listened to it…

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