Sunday, August 10, 2008

Inventiveness, Concentration, Plasma Engines, and the Usual Alternative Energy News

I have been sitting on this story all week, and thankfully it has been picked up pretty much everywhere by now. When a doctor and a nurse design and build a kidney dialysis machine for infants too small for the normal machines, it's something to laud. Especially since it works and has saved lives.

If that sort of innovation isn't your cup of tea, how about the news that NASA is hoping to test a plasma engine design in space. If successful, it could open the door to the production of far more efficient rockets than are currently available. Such a thing would certainly be helpful to our exploration of the solar system.

Great works of science, engineering, and art all share at their inception people who's job it is to will them into creation. Concentration is a vital skill, and it has been for a long time, as this 1930's era publication demonstrates. The advice within is astoundingly relevant today, and has been around long before Peopleware was published.

Of course, I leave you with some new info on alternative energy sources. Today I've got a story about some folks at MIT figuring out a way to improve fuel cells that could make them a better alternative for storing solar energy for use when the sun isn't shining. There's also the more detailed ArsTechnica analysis of the same story. And since solar power will be the catalyst for the potential application, I'll also point to an IEEE Spectrum article about one company's quest to make solar cost competitive against fossil fuels. We're getting closer and closer to the inevitable point where solar generation becomes a widespread reality, and I'm rather looking forward to it.

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