Posted by Adam Wills
Israeli start-up Pythagoras Solar has developed a nearly transparent but fully solar glass that can be used as an energy-efficient skylight, producing 13 watts of electricity per square foot, much like regular solar panels, Susan Kraemer reports:
This makes it particularly suitable for single storey strip malls, now typically lit by ugly fluorescent strips. A skylight positioned to center over each store on a single story commercial building, would bring much needed daylight into a cavernous space, while producing enough energy to supply the store some or all of its electricity as well.
The dual use is achieved with optics on the surface that filter light to let daylight through, while mirrors reflect light onto solar cells. Typical commercial insulated glass units have two panes of glass, placed about one inch apart and held in a metal frame, which are coated with a film to block out heat from the sun.
Pythagoras Solar’s glass unit also uses two panes but the glass unit is made of several tiles, each of which has a solar cell to generate electricity with traditional and extremely efficient monocrystalline silicon cells from Chinese partner China Sunergy.
Pythagoras Solar’s first product, due in the third quarter this year, will be a skylight but the company also plans to make curtain walls for new buildings. Payback is looking like about five years, but of course each case is different as it depends on the regional cost of the utility electricity that it would replace.
The company boasts some outside-the-box thinkers. Chief Technical Officer Itay Baruchi is a physicist whose work on biological memory – a key to eventually producing neuro-memory chips – was cited by Scientific American as one of the 50 most significant scientific breakthroughs in 2007.
CEO and co-founder Gonen Fink, with a B.Sc in physics and computer science, was vice-president of R&D of the Israeli Internet security company that invented the firewall (Check Point), and is a graduate of one of the IDF’s elite IT units. (But he also found time to do an M.A. in philosophy – that may be behind the name Pythagoras.)
Their unusual IT background has resulted in an interdisciplinary breakthrough configuration that combines existing technologies, such as the traditional cells, and multilayer glass for efficiency, and traditional concentrating solar technology (but employed at the miniature level within the glass) rather than trying any one entirely new technology.
“Our approach is based on proven technology and existing form factors more than some of the new systems, but we use innovation in optics, semiconductor and mass manufacturing processes to significantly reduce the cost of materials being consumed,” is how CEO Gonen Fink describes it.—[CleanTechnia.com]
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July 9, 2010 | 2:19 pm
Posted by Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie
Not so Clueless anymore! Alicia Silverstone, actress, author and PETA spokesperson, is doing her part to earn her title as an animal rights activist. Workers at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, centered in Long Island, were the recipients of a phone message from Silverstone, trying to dissuade them from electing to take on a “really cruel project” sponsored by NASA. The venture would require that 30 squirrel monkeys be inundated with a potentially lethal dose of gamma radiation, in order to recreate an environment like that which an astronaut would experience on a single round trip journey to Mars. NASA has supposedly pledged up to 1.75 million dollars of tax payer money to allow the project to go forward.
Here is Alicia’s message (received by an estimated 1,000 workers) from longisland.about.com:
Hi, this is Alicia Silverstone. I’m sure that you were as disturbed as I was to learn that Brookhaven is considering blasting monkeys with radiation in a really cruel project funded by NASA. These bright but scared to death animals will be locked up for life and may suffer from brain damage, cancer, and blindness before dying in their barren steel cages.
Brookhaven’s reputation as a cutting-edge scientific organization is ruined if this cruel study happens. NASA’s European counterpart—the European Space Agency—has publicly condemned such experiments on monkeys.
At the end of the day, both parties appear well intentioned, although I have had a tendency to think PETA is somewhat of a joke after they got up in arms about President Obama swatting a fly on national television. It was a fly, relax! Monkeys are a different story though. However it turns out, I will stand by one thing indefinitely: Clueless was an amazing movie.
July 8, 2010 | 11:09 am
Posted by Adam Wills
Eli Goudinevsky, a 12th-grader from Amit High School in Beer Sheva, learned today that he was one of five students who won gold in a global high school physics competition called the First Step to Nobel Prize in Physics. Three other students from Israel—Evelyn Jenis from Beersheba, Daniel Achdut from Netanya and Dorin Yerhi from Arad—took silver during the contest organized by the Institute of Physics-Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, which draws participants from 75 countries.
The winning research was conducted by Goudinevsky in the laboratory of Prof. Nathan Kleeorin at Ben-Gurion University.
“My physics teacher at school and the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center at Ben-Gurion University gave me the tools and helped me realize by potential,” Goudinevsky said.
The Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center plays a large role in the success of students from the south in this competition. For instance, Hadas Tzaban from Netivot won the gold medal last year.
This year’s contestants were mentored by Prof. Victor Malamud, a physics teacher at Amit High School in Beersheba and the head of the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center.
“This is a big achievement,” said Prof. Malamud on Thursday. “These young scientists are the future of the country.”
Dr. Amnon Eldar said that the Israeli winners would be awarded prizes in recognition of their outstanding achievements. “These students are a symbol of excellence,” he said.
As part of his prize, Goudinevsky will work alongside research fellows at the Institute of Physics during an upcoming four-week enrichment program.
July 2, 2010 | 3:23 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Welcome to Science Schmooze, JewishJournal.com’s blog featuring science news that interests Jews (or at least those of us who blog here).
Jews account for about a quarter of all Nobel Prize winners in science categories. Mention names like Einstein, Salk, Feynman and Sagan and how can we not beam with pride?
In his 1902 Zionist novel, “Old New Land,” Theodor Herzl envisioned a new Jewish society that would use science and technology to develop Israel. Today, sci/tech is one of the most developed sectors in Israel, a country with seven research universities that’s ranked fourth in the world in scientific activity.
Jews in the United States, Israel and around the world are behind advances in agriculture, medicine, computer science, nanotechnology and solar energy, to name just a few fields we hope to cover.