Are space elevators a viable concept?

This week’s question concerns space elevators. Last week, during NASA’s Space Elevator Games in the Mojave Desert, a robot powered by a ground-based laser beam scampered up a 2,953 foot cable suspended from a helicopter hovering almost a mile overhead. The trip took just over four minutes. The achievement, some say, brings us one step closer to making the concept of space elevators a reality. For those not familiar with the concept, a space elevator would consist of an electrically powered vehicle that can travel up and down a cable that is anchored to Earth and suspended from a mass placed in geosynchronous orbit thousands of miles above the Earth. Power for the elevator would be provided by ground-based lasers aimed at photovoltaic cells mounted on the underside of the vehicle. Although it may sound fanciful, proponents of the theory believe that, with certain technological advances, it’s completely feasible. What do you think? Are space elevators a viable concept?

Posted in: Question of the Week


Algae as a High-Temperature Hydrogen Source

A team of researchers from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have found that the inner machinery of photosynthesis can be isolated from certain algae and, when coupled with a platinum catalyst, is able to produce a steady supply of hydrogen when exposed to light.

Posted in: GDM, News, News, Alternative Fuels, Biomass, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Green Design & Manufacturing


Japan Wins Australia's Global Green Challenge

The "Tokai Challenger" solar car from Japan's Tokai University won the 3,000 kilometer Global Green Challenge race down the center of Australia. The Tokai Challenger maintained an average speed of over 100 kilometers per hour, or about 62 miles per hour, besting the winner of the previous four races - the Dutch Nuon Solar Team.

Posted in: GDM, News, News, Batteries, Electronics & Computers, Alternative Fuels, Energy, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Green Design & Manufacturing, Transportation


EPA's National TV Recycling Challenge

Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Company (MRM) is the winner of EPA's National TV Recycling Challenge. MRM developed a TV collection network that uses a variety of collection approaches, including establishing collection points with charities and self-storage units, to recycle approximately 3 million pounds of TVs.

Posted in: GDM, News, News, Green Design & Manufacturing, Recycling Technologies


Three-Dimensional, Hidden Solar Cell

Using zinc oxide nanostructures grown on optical fibers and coated with dye-sensitized solar cell materials, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new type of three-dimensional photovoltaic system. The approach could allow PV systems to be hidden from view and located away from traditional locations such as rooftops.

Posted in: GDM, News, News, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Solar Power


Transparent Insulating Film Could Enable Energy-Efficient Displays

Johns Hopkins materials scientists have found a new use for a chemical compound traditionally viewed as an electrical conductor (a substance that allows electricity to flow through it). By orienting the compound differently, the researchers have turned it into a thin film insulator, which blocks the flow of electricity but can induce large electric currents elsewhere.

Posted in: GDM, News, News, Batteries, Electronics & Computers, Energy, Energy Efficiency


Is technology making people too self-absorbed?

This week’s question concerns the impact technology is having on society. Technology has made it possible for people to share every aspect of their lives - both the good and the bad – with the entire world. The insatiable desire of some people to reach out and touch each other has made Web sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and YouTube phenomenally successful. Now a UK-based company called Vicon is developing a small camera, called the ViconRevue, that can be worn around the neck and automatically take pictures every 30 seconds, virtually documenting every moment of your life. The pendant-size camera, which was originally designed to help Alzheimer’s patients, can store about 30,000 images on a 1GB memory card and should be in stores next year. Fans of the concept think it’s the coolest tech-toy since the camera phone, while critics call it proof-positive that society as a whole is becoming too self-absorbed. What do you think? Is technology making people too self-absorbed?

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