Posts by mimin:
When my son was young, our family had a membership at our local hands-on science museum for kids. There he was exposed to a lot of cool scientific exhibits and displays, and I’m happy to say that at 20 years old he continues to have an interest in science and technology. Unfortunately, many kids don’t live near such a museum, but thanks to a handful of innovative science educators, one might be coming to them … on wheels. Introducing the Physics Bus:
The Physics Bus is a traveling science exhibit with dozens of hands-on activities that demonstrate a variety of fun scientific concepts. The idea originated at Cornell University, which seems appropriate considering that science popularizer Carl Sagan spent most of his career teaching at that institution. Since its inception, a number of Physics Buses have been rolled out across the country. Today I’ll look at one that works out of Tucson AZ. What’s special about this one? The bus runs entirely on renewable energy. The engine burns discarded vegetable oil, and once the bus is parked, its electrical exhibits are powered by sunlight.
A one kilowatt photovoltaic array, consisting of four Hyundai 250W monocrystalline PV modules wired in parallel, is mounted to the top of the bus. To ensure that the fun doesn’t end at sunset (or on excessively cloudy days), battery manufacturer US Battery donated a bank of eight deep cycle flooded lead acid batteries that provide up to 14 kWh of energy storage. It takes two to three days to fully charge the battery bank from solar power, depending on conditions. (Need it faster? Looks like there’s room for more solar panels!)
Since some of the exhibits use AC power, Magnum Dimensions was kind enough to donate a 4kW inverter/charge controller that’s capable of running in grid-tied or stand-alone mode. The inverter has a low startup voltage – only 18 to 34 volts – allowing it to produce electricity even on cloudy days. During a recent winter tour of Arizona, the PV array’s voltage dropped from 27.2 volts to 25.8 volts on a day of continuous cloudiness. Since this is well within the acceptable input range for the inverter, all systems were running on solar power, even with the Sun behind the clouds.
Dr. Sagan frequently pointed out that we’re all made of “star stuff.” I think he’d be happy to know that the Physics Bus continues his mission of bringing science to the people, and that its experiments are powered by our nearest star, Sol.
North Korea may soon be able to strike USA with ultimate doomsday weapon that deactivates (nearly) all electronics
Obama administration officials have released new intelligence indicating North Korea is building mobile ICBMs that will soon be able to reach the United States. This was reported in the Washington Times, which states, “New intelligence indicates that North Korea is moving ahead with building its first road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, an easily hidden weapon capable […]
A picture of how wealthy or poor people are can be reconstructed from anonymized data generated by mobile phones, according to researchers analyzing cell phone data from Rwanda. Personal information that mobile devices gather such as a person’s location often gets anonymized by stripping it of names, home addresses, phone numbers, and other obvious identifying […]
Energy storage has a number of applications for residential and commercial customers. First and foremost, homes with solar panels could benefit from energy storage, especially if net-metering laws, which let customers use the grid for “virtual storage,” disappear. (Off-grid users with PV systems obviously need storage as well, but that’s a pretty small market right […]
If you’re already drone crazy, here’s what you probably want to know about the latest Parrot drone, the BeBop 2, introduced today in San Francisco. The 500-gram drone has a 2-kilometer range, a 25-minute battery life (twice as long as its predecessor), a top horizontal speed of 60 kilometers per hour, and can resist headwinds up […]
“Your quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all.” So says Galadrial to the fellowship sent to destroy the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings. But that advice might as well be directed to the burgeoning virtual reality industry. Early […]
Our regular readers know we’ve got a lot of heartburn when it comes to the antics and actions of the Transportation Security Administration and a number of goofballs this rogue agency regularly employs. As we have well documented, it is one of the most lawless federal agencies in existence. But for the most part, that […]
The San Francisco Bay Area tends to be ahead of the curve when it comes to food trends, and if those trends involve high tech gadgets, all the better. So there’s usually a smart food or beverage-preparing gadget at hardware launch events—in past years we’ve seen automatic bartenders, robotic stir-fry gadgets, and countless ways to […]
It’s a principle in the startup world: if you see a need for a product and think the technology for creating it is ready, you can be pretty sure you’re not the only one who has that same idea. So you need to get it out fastest, do it best, and offer it at the […]
Move Over Wearables. Make Way for Implantables Wearable monitors for health and fitness seemed to be everywhere in the exhibit halls and on the conference stages at CES 2016. But while this generation of biometric monitoring devices goes mainstream, a little Silicon Valley company is working on what could be the next generation of body […]