Let The Sun Lighten Up Your Utility Costs

People are moving away from fossil fuels to power their homes and lives. Solar energy is popular as a huge role in the foreseeable future. The tips in this article will give you with useful information and helpful tips.

Start small when you begin using solar energy. You can find these at large retailers and national chain stores. They are very easy to install as any other garden light.

To ensure that you’re getting the most out of your panels, opt for installations that are independent of the sun’s movement. This is great if you use power during the evenings.

Solar panel power is generally more efficient the more dense the panels are. You will be able to produce more energy if you choose panels with a high density, even though these panels can be more expensive. If you are hesitating between different panels, compare their density to get an idea of how efficient they will be.

Solar energy is going to be the environment at all. Now is the best time to check out this kind of energy.

You may want to buy the least amount of solar panels to save money. Hire a professional to come into your home and do an energy audit. This can help you identify where you can save energy by making a few changes. This means you reduce the number of panels installed.

It is best to install your panels where they will get the sun’s rays. Be sure to do regular checks to ensure that trees trimmed back so they won’t interfere with your solar energy system.

If you properly maintain your solar panels, they should continue to work well. This requires that you thoroughly inspect your panels and carefully wash their surfaces a minimum of once per month. Get a professional to assist you with cleaning and to inspect your setup, but know you’ll save money if you do it yourself.

Bigger is not always better when considering solar panels. All these things should be considered when looking into this investment.

Avoid doing business with pushy when trying to sell you a solar power system.These types of salespeople are pushing their product for a reason. You should always consider such an expensive investment carefully and won’t make a decision on the spot. If they continue to push, then it should be a great deal later. Decisions made under pressure can end up costing you a lot of money later on.

Be grounded in your expectations of what you can get out of solar powered water heating.Water heated by solar power will stay warm for 24 hours.

If you would rather transition to solar power slowly, look for small-scale solar power installations. There are two ways to go about this. First, you should find solar panels that you’ll be able to mount up on windows that are able to charge small appliances. The second way is to use solar-powered equipment when you camp. Each solar option you choose is one you will not have to pay for on your electric statement.

You should hire a professional to inspect your solar panels twice each year for peak performance. During this check, a technician will check all connections, make sure panels are angled properly and make sure the inverter stays on and works right.

Leasing is less expensive than buying a system and you will often save money within only a few weeks due to lower start up costs.

Try to refrain from walking on your solar panels. If you have to walk over your panels, make sure that you avoid walking at the ends of the panels since this is the part that is more likely to break.

Solar energy is an excellent way to reduce energy costs in the long term. This can help you go green and reduce your energy bill. If you are planning on moving, then you might want to hold out on purchasing the solar energy system until you are in a more permanent home.

If you want to buy from a certain company, do some background research on them. You should aim to work with someone that is likely to still be around in 20 years. This will ensure your warranty so that you a resource if you need replacement parts.

Solar panels do more besides just lighting up your lights. They can also be used to warm water and heat for your home. This means a solar system can lower your overall electric bill. You could even end up with the power company.

Solar Energy

Try to stay away from high pressure salespeople when scouting solar energy. It’s important that you take your time in making the best possible decision for you. You may make a horrible decision and lose out on a lot of money by purchasing from a pushy salesperson.

Seek out great ways to utilize a solar energy system inside your home. For instance, most solar energy systems can only provide a portion of the energy needed to run a heating system. You may find that solar power can provide most of your shower. Knowing these differences can help you choose the best choice for your home.

We need to make some improvements when it comes to energy sources if we want to save money and the environment. There is no reason to wait. Find out what is available to you, and start the switch today.

Confused About Solar Energy? This Is For You

It’s readily available to nearly any business or home that wants to make this change.This article is going to teach you the advantages of using solar energy.

Start out small when you begin using solar energy. You should not have any problem finding these lights at a store or mass market retailer. They are very easy to install as any other garden light.

Your solar power system will function wonderfully if you maintain them. You might want a professional to do this, but should hire someone if you don’t feel comfortable doing it.

There are two types of photo-voltaic panels. The less expensive types are the poly-crystalline panels, but they also are less effective than the mono-crystalline panels. Look for efficiency when choosing what to invest in.

You can do your energy bills and protect the planet by installing a solar-powered water heater. You will find solar heated water. You can have them installed on your roof or in any sunny location.

If you must have fixed angle panels, you will have to find the best angle for all seasons.

Solar Panels

Find solar panels that maximize energy to save money in the long run. Current technology can store energy to allow you to use it throughout the day. This is very useful if you use power in the evenings.

You should have a back-up plan in case the solar panels are not producing any power. You can either get a generator or stay on the power grid and use this when your solar panels are down.

You need to think about whether or not solar is the right fit for you. There are several things you may choose to go this route to power your home. Solar energy is a good option for those that live in remote areas where there is no available electrical grid to hook into. It is also a great option if you’re able to pay upfront in order to realize savings later.

There may be rebates and grants that can help offset the initial costs involved with solar panel installation. It can be expensive to install and run your solar energy system, but there are ways to make it a bit cheaper. Look into grants and rebates from the state and federal governments that can help cut down on your start up costs. They can bring down the cost substantially. You may even get some of your expenses on your taxes.

The best solar panels are able to be re-positioned to accommodate the seasonal shifting of the sun. This is why investing in panels that track the sunlight are best for optimal performance.

Do some serious calculations before you invest in any sort of solar panel system. Depending on where you are, solar panels might be too expensive when overhead and output potential are taken into consideration.

Solar energy reduces the quantity of pollution produced annually. There are already a number of standalone machines that use of the power of the sun.

Solar energy is very green and is a renewable resource.

If you are thinking about leasing solar panels, be sure that your contract allows you to transfer the lease. This is important if you decide to sell your home, as you wouldn’t want to pay for energy you aren’t using. Transferring the lease give new homeowners a chance to use the solar energy while allowing you to break the contract.

Older solar panel styles may be a cheaper investment to start with but do not pay off as well in the long run.

Solar Panels

Pay attention to local weather when you initially begin considering a solar panels. Solar panels are a good option if there are five hours of sunlight each day. You may want to look into other choices if your area is cloudy or snowy in winter.

Should your solar panels fail to work as they should, it is good to have a backup plan. You can either get a generator or stay connected to the power grid. If you choose to go the generator route, consistently test it. You may also want to have multiple generators.

Think about using a solar-powered water heater to solar energy. Water heaters can account for up to 35% of a home’s energy consumption. With the upfront costs of solar water heaters being less than a full power system, a solar water heater will start saving you money much sooner.

Solar Energy

Unlike many other forms of natural energy, solar energy offers greater savings potential and a clean carbon profile. Now that you know a little more about solar energy, consider making the switch yourself. The information in this article can help you choose a solar system that benefits you the most.

You have to think about whether or not solar energy is a good choice for your home. Several important factors must be considered. Solar energy is a good option for those that live in remote locations that are not connected to utility grids. It’s also a good choice if you can afford it.

How Bio-Diesel Is Changing The World Of Green Energy

Have you been thinking about green energy but didn’t know what to do about it? Does it just seem like it would be a personal or difficult?

There are grants available to help people invest in green energy. Contact your city or county government and discover the programs available in your area. You can qualify for a free installation or a tax deduction.

When designing outdoor lighting for your patio or garden path, consider solar-powered lamps. The solar lamps are relatively inexpensive and will not need any additional power other than direct sunlight. This saves you a lot of energy. Another added convenience is that they do not require any wiring for you to enjoy outside lighting.

Energy Company

Are you living on a farmer? If so, you could allow an energy company to rent a small plot of your land, you may be able to rent some of the property to a local energy company that will install a type of wind turbine.

Wash clothes with cold water whenever possible. Almost 90 percent of the consumed energy used by a washing your clothes is spent on heating up the water. As long as your detergent is good, using cold water instead of hot water will wash your clothes just as well.

If you use oil to heat your home, see if biofuel can be used instead. A lot of the existing systems can be modified with minimal parts or alterations. Biodiesel will burn cleaner than petroleum, which helps to protect the environment.

Many systems will take a switch to some level of biodiesel without needing extra modifications or parts.

Take the time out to properly maintain your refrigerator. Refrigerators use a large amount of electricity, so making sure they’re in working order is always good to know. Be sure that you’re regularly cleaning the dust around the heating coils. Make sure door seal is clean and also tight.

Use a tankless and more green instead of a tank style heater. Tankless versions still need electricity or gas to heat water, but they only heat the water you actually need. Tankless heaters are available in models that supply the entire home or certain faucets.

If you want to have hot water, but at a lower cost, then check into solar energy. You can purchase a hot-water system that is run by solar energy. There are direct and indirect circulation systems available. Indirect is best if you have cold winters and worry about pipes freezing.

Adds 4

Dressing warmly can help you reduce energy usage. A sweater that is heavy adds 4 more degrees of warmth, and a heavy sweater adds 4 degrees. You do not have to dress lightly at home, so wear a sweater!

Use a laptop for your computing needs rather than a desktop computer. This could possibly reduce your electrical use by 75 percent, especially if you are frequently on the Internet or using word processing software. The laptop has the added benefit of being portable, so it can be taken anywhere!

Use a laptop instead of a desktop computer. Laptops use up to 75% less electricity than desktops, especially during non-demanding tasks like surfing the web or word processing. Additionally, you can carry a laptop with you, so it’s possible to use it wherever you want.

Save Energy

There are a lot of things you can do if you want to save energy. Lowering the temperature on your water heater can save energy as well. Every little thing you do will help.

The easiest and best way to decrease energy expenses in the home is to simply turn off lights when you exit a room. Turning off the lights will add up to great energy savings over time. You also save on your electric bill.

A solar oven is an energy efficient way of baking. These can even be made yourself using items such as a box, a discarded window, and some tin foil. The internal temperature of these easy-to-build ovens can top 300 degrees, and they do not require any energy besides the sun’s rays.

TIP! Make reminders for yourself. These reminders can help make sure you are doing all you can to conserve energy.

What must you do in your home to use greener energy sources? Here, you have been given some of the tools to start with. Now, it’s your job to use them to improve your life and help save our planet. Once you get started, you will be simply delighted and amazed with what happens!

Amazing New Solar Panels Are Completely Transparent

Just so we’re totally clear, this is a huge deal.

1. The Sun sends us enormous amounts of energy.

The Sun sends us enormous amounts of energy.

View this image ›

You’ve seen solar panels like this before. In simplest terms, they collect the sun’s light and help convert it into usable electricity.

2. Researchers at Michigan State University have developed transparent panels that can go undetected over surfaces.

Researchers at Michigan State University have developed transparent panels that can go undetected over surfaces.

View this image ›

Yimu Zhao / Michigan State University / Via msutoday.msu.edu

The new study isn’t the first to delve into luminescent materials, but it is the first to yield a transparent panel with improved energy production.

Because it’s see-through, the technology can be used without you even knowing that it’s there, like on top of building windows or cellphones.

3. The team developed organic molecules that absorb wavelengths of sunlight that aren’t visible.

The team developed organic molecules that absorb wavelengths of sunlight that aren't visible.

View this image ›

G.L. Kohuth / Michigan State University / Via msutoday.msu.edu

Former efforts have typically used colored glass. “It makes for a very colorful environment, like working in a disco,” researcher Richard Lunt told MSUToday. “Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye.”

4. While still in its early stages, the panels could potentially be made affordable to use industrially or, better yet, commercially.

While still in its early stages, the panels could potentially be made affordable to use industrially or, better yet, commercially.

View this image ›

G.L. Kohuth / Michigan State University / Via msutoday.msu.edu

The problem with solar energy is that harnessing the endless stream of light is expensive. On top of the actual system, which used to cost 10 times that of fossil fuels like coal, you need special permits and inspections, according to the Energy Department.

But with prices steadily dropping, and if continually improved, you might see this technology soon (or not, since it’s transparent).

This Hotel in Singapore has the Coolest Sky Gardens Ever

Designed by WOHA Architects, the PARKROYAL on Pickering Hotel in Singapore features six incredible sky gardens that are cantilevered at every fourth level between the blocks of guest rooms.

PARKROYAL on Pickering is a hotel-in-a-garden concept that incorporates energy-saving features throughout the property including the ‘zero-energy’ sky gardens. The sustainable project design and green efforts have earned the hotel the BCA Green Mark Platinum, Singapore’s highest green rating, as well as the Solar Pioneer Award for its innovative solar energy system.

The hotel recently celebrated it’s one year anniversary. In that time the hotel has won more than 12 prestigious awards for its architecture and sustainability, including: The President’s Design Award, “Best Hotel Architectural Design” title at the South East Asia Property Awards, FIABCI Singapore Property Award in the Hotel category and the 2013 HICAP Sustainable Hotel Award (Sustainable Project Design). The property was also named “Hotel of the Year” at the World Architecture News Awards.

The 367-room hotel cost $350 million to build and features 15,000 square metres (161,459 sq. ft) of cascading greenery, reflecting pools, waterfalls, planter walls and four-storey high solar-powered sky gardens, constituting more than twice its land area.

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[via ArchDaily]

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3 Amazing Ways Elon Musk Is Exactly Like The Real Life Tony Stark

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Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, is a dreamer, businessman, engineer, adventurer, inventor and innovator.

His ambitious are boundless, literally spanning across the galaxy and perhaps even beyond. He is the real life Tony Stark, developing technologies that most of us believed could only exist in science fiction.

Musk not only wants to engineer innovative technologies, he also wants to ensure that they are used for the betterment of humankind and the planet.

Correspondingly, he has invested in robotics companies to monitor the growth and expansion of this technology. He worries that we could potentially live in a world in which robots are in control and turn on humans, much like Terminator.

Moreover, Musk has been a fervent supporter of renewable energy and is a model for using wealth and status to promote the health and sustainability of our planet. In Musk’s view, continuing to rely on fossil fuels for energy is suicidal:

By definition we must move towards renewable energy.

How can people argue against that? To argue that is to say that eventually we will run out of energy and die or civilization will collapse.

Musk is poised to revolutionize human existence, and it seems he will lead us into an entirely new age of exploration. Indeed, Musk is a firm believer that space exploration is the key to ensuring that humanity survives in the future. Innovation is the key to survival.

While some might dismiss his ideas as ludicrous, many regard him as a genius. Likewise, the greatest inventions in the world were all once regarded as insane and improbable. Individuals like Musk are vital to the progression of our world.

Here are three ways that Elon Musk is revolutionizing our existence:

1. Reducing our impact on the environment with electric cars.

As noted above, Musk is committed to reducing humanity’s carbon footprint. This is precisely why Tesla Motors is developing affordable, long-range, electric cars.

A great deal of America’s carbon emissions are a product of our reliance on automobiles that guzzle gasoline and diesel fuel. Electric cars are arguably much better for the environment, but there are still many skeptics. Will Oremus of Slate notes:

The knock on electric cars has always been the same: They’re great for the environment, but they’re pokey and impractical, and nobody wants to buy one.

The stunning success story of the Tesla Model S has, improbably, flipped that equation. It’s blazingly fast, surprisingly practical, and everyone wants to buy one.

Electric cars as a concept cannot be contributed to Musk, but Tesla has been particularly innovative by creating a more affordable product with a longer-lasting battery. There’s still room for improvement, but it’s a massive step in the right direction.

Musk has also developed a sophisticated autopilot system for cars. In fact, he believes that we’re only five years away from cars that will drive us as we sleep.


2. Building a city on Mars for the future of humankind.

Musk wants to establish a colony of one million people on Mars:

I think there is a strong humanitarian argument for making life multi-planetary… in order to safeguard the existence of humanity in the event that something catastrophic were to happen, in which case being poor or having a disease would be irrelevant, because humanity would be extinct.

As climate change continues to make our planet increasingly uninhabitable, he may have a point. Likewise, there is so much that we don’t know about our own galaxy. Throughout history, humanity has progressed by exploring uncharted territory. Exploring the galaxy will lead to potentially beneficial discoveries and important insights on our own planet.

In September, NASA awarded SpaceX and Boeing a $6.8 million contract to develop space taxis meant to transport astronauts to the International Space Station.

SpaceX is also currently developing a reusable rocket to make multi-planetary life a greater possibility. It’s called the Falcon 9 Reusable (Falcon 9R).


3. Harnessing the power of the sun with affordable solar energy.

Musk is determined to find a means to an end to the excessive use of fossil fuels. In the same way that he wants to produce the most affordable and efficient electric car, Musk also wants to make solar panels cheaper and available to the masses.

Solar energy is exceptionally clean and not at all harmful to the environment whatsoever.

SolarCity is a company that designs and installs solar energy systems. It’s primary goal is to create solar energy systems that are not only beneficial to the environment, but also affordable for homes and businesses. Musk is the chairman of SolarCity and it’s run by two of his cousins.

In June, SolarCity announced that it would build the largest solar panel factory in the world. According to Musk, the sun generates more energy in a few hours than the world uses in a year. Accordingly, solar panels can help the globe meet its energy needs and demands.

As a result of SolarCity’s efforts, solar energy systems are becoming rapidly available to more people.

Musk is a testament to the fact that true innovation is a product of a desire to perpetuate the health of this world. After all, we owe our very existence to this planet, it’s only right that we preserve and protect it. The future of humanity depends on the stability of the environment.

Photo Courtesy: Twitter

Japan Wants To Put A Giant Solar Farm In Space

Picture this: a giant solar power plant floating in space, gathering the sun’s energy with virtually no constraints from the weather, seasons or time of day, delivering a constant supply of green energy to Earth. Sound a little too Sci-Fi? Well, thanks to JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, we could actually witness this incredible technology in just over a decade.

The idea of a space power plant has actually been around for a while. Back in 1968, American aerospace engineer Dr. Peter Glaser pioneered the space solar power concept and proposed the deployment of giant solar panels in space in order to generate microwaves that could be transmitted back to Earth to produce electricity. The concept sparked a lot of interest, even from NASA, but it came to a halt in the ‘80s because of the high costs involved. Japan, however, pursued the idea and is currently the world leader of the Space Solar Power Systems (SSPS) project.

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This colossal satellite, hovering around 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above Earth, would be several miles long and weigh a whopping 10,000 metric tons. These floating solar panels would actually be tethered to a station on the ground in order to keep the satellite at a fixed point in geostationary orbit. The proposed model also includes a set of mirrors that reflect the sun’s light onto the panels so that when the satellite is not facing the sun it can still receive sunlight.

And now for the really tricky part: getting all of that solar energy back to Earth so that we can use it. There are two possible ways that this could be achieved which involve converting the solar energy into either laser beams or microwaves, or perhaps even a combination of both, which would then be transmitted to a receiving facility (called a “rectenna” [rectifying antenna]) situated on Earth. Ground-based experiments are currently underway to discern which option would be most efficient.

These space based solar panels would be around 5-10 times more efficient than ground-based solar conversion systems. Furthermore, CO2 emissions will be low and will only come from the receiving facility. It’s predicted that SSPS will be able to process around 1 gigawatt of power, which is a similar amount to nuclear power stations.

Although Japan are the leading country with regards to making SSPS happen, in reality the costs will be so astronomical that it is likely contributions from other countries will be required before we see this behemoth space power station start to take shape. This concept may seem a little far-fetched, but JAXA believe they are getting tantalizingly close to turning this vision into a reality.

Check out JAXA’s SSPS YouTube video to find out more:

10 Incredible Advances In Biomimicry

Biomimetics is the science of looking to nature for answers to our technological problems. You use biomimetic technologies every single day. Velcro, for example, was invented after George de Mestral noticed how burrs used tiny hooks to stick to his dog’s fur. And while Velcro is too commonplace to blow anybody’s mind, in recent years, we’ve used the exact same process to build technologies that are nothing short of incredible.

10 UltraCane

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In nature, ultrasound is most famously used by bats to find prey. The science behind it’s pretty simple: You shoot out a sound wave and record the amount of time it takes for the echo to return after bouncing off something. If you know how fast the sonic wave is traveling, you can measure how far away the obstacle is. Bats do it naturally. Humans don’t.

So researchers at the University of Leeds in the UK looked to bats for inspiration to build an ultrasonic cane for blind people. The idea was simple enough, but what they didn’t foresee was the way the human brain became so receptive to the new sense. The cane works by sending out ultrasonic signals, measuring the response time of the echoes, and converting that data into vibrations in the handle of the cane. As an object gets closer, the vibrations get stronger.

When the cane was tested, they found that the brains of the test subjects readily accepted the input and began building a new type of spatial awareness based solely on vibrations coming in through their palms. Over time, they stopped consciously feeling the vibrations and built an instant mental map of their surroundings—their minds cut out the middle man in favor of a more efficient interpretation of the sensation.

9 Swarm Robotics

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Harvard isn’t the only research organization intent on giving robots the ability to communicate and learn from each other. The New Jersey Institute of Technology is also developing a swarm of robots with a hive mentality, and they’ve already succeeded. Modeled after the colony behavior of ants, a robot is able to pick up on the decisions of the other robots and follow their behavior—without any programming.

The robots themselves don’t look like ants—more like futuristic ice cubes—but each one has two light sensors that act like an ant’s antennae picking up a trail of pheromones. Individually stupid, the robots can only move forward and sense light. Each robot was being tracked by a projector that left spots of light along their path, sort of like a trail of breadcrumbs, and each time a robot stumbled across another robot’s path, the lights got brighter.

At the beginning of the experiment, all the robots were moving randomly and chaotically. At the end, they converged into a train following a single path. Like ants, they don’t make a “choice” when they do something different; it’s all based on a core program that tells them to follow a specific signal. With ants, that signal is a pheromone trail left by other ants. With swarm robots, it’s light.

8 Self-Cleaning Paint

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Not all advances in biomimicry have to do with robots. In fact, the majority don’t; robots are just more interesting to talk about. That said, one of the most interesting biomimetic inventions in recent years is a paint that’s modeled after the leaves of the lotus flower.

Lotus leaves may look smooth, but at the microscopic level, they’re covered in millions of tiny spikes. The spikes repel dirt and water by minimizing the surface area of the leaf—water just rolls off because there’s not enough contact to build an attraction. With that as a model, a German company developed a paint that uses a complex microstructure on the outside to prevent things from sticking to the paint. Under a microscope, the dried paint looks like a surreal landscape covered with sculptures.

Dirt particles can still get caught on the protrusions, but the smallest splash of water will dislodge them. In other words, the paint is essentially self-cleaning. And like the lotus leaves, water itself slides right off. NASA is also using the lotus idea to build a coating for spacesuits and rovers to prevent bacteria from hitchhiking into space.

7 Multifaceted Cameras

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If you had a microscope, a lot of time, and a lazy fly, you could count all the individual facets in the eye of a housefly. There are about 28,000—each with its own lens and light-sensing nerve. Compound eyes are one of the marvels of nature: They allow insects to see up to 180 degrees around them and offer a sense of depth that humans can only dream about.

Using that idea, researchers at the University of Illinois built a multifaceted camera that consists of 180 lenses, each connected to an individual photodetector. The array was built onto a flexible rubber mat which was then curved into a hemispherical shape. The input from all the lenses is combined into a single image, so you’re looking at a regular picture as opposed to, say, a bank of monitors. And the whole thing—lenses and electronics included—is only a centimeter (.4 in) in diameter.

The team’s goal is to use the cameras for aerial surveillance on robotic drones. But even a stationary camera would be a massive improvement over current cameras. Put two of these “bug eyes” back to back, and you have a 360 degree view. Currently, they’re working on a new model that doubles the number of lenses.

6 Shark Skin Coatings

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When Michael Phelps won six gold medals in the 2004 Olympics, he was wearing a swimsuit called Fastskin, developed by Speedo. Fastskin is covered in tiny bumps that emulate the skin of a shark. Even though the swimsuits have been simultaneously banned and declared ineffective, the idea of using shark skin as a model for hi-tech materials is far from dead.

A shark’s skin is covered in a layer of overlapping pieces called denticles. They look like microscopic teeth and point toward the back of the shark. When a shark swims, the leading edges of the denticles create micro vortices that essentially pull the shark forward, allowing it to swim faster. And due to the way they flex, other organisms—like algae and barnacles—can’t grab onto it. That’s why whales are often found encrusted with barnacles, but sharks never are.

The US Navy is researching applications to use shark skin-inspired coatings on the outside of their submarines, which would both make them faster and prevent mussels and barnacles from piling up on their hulls, the cleanup of which is a $50 million-per-year job. Hospitals are also getting in on the game: A material known as Sharklet is already being used on door handles in California’s hospitals to stop pathogens like E. coli from forming colonies. The best part is, since it’s not a chemical repellant, there’s no way for bacteria to build a resistance.

5 SCRATCHBot

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The search for new ways to experience the world has always been rooted in the animal world. By building a robot that looks and acts like a rat, the scientists at the University of Sheffield have delved into a means of sensing that humans will never experience: whiskers. Dubbed SCRATCHBot, the robot’s sole purpose is to act as a vehicle for state-of-the-art synthetic whiskers—and a brain that can interpret the data and put it to use.

Since rats are mostly nocturnal, they often use their whiskers to navigate more than their eyesight. In recreating a set of functional whiskers, the researchers used fiberglass rods that contained Hall effect sensors (sensors that measure differences in voltage based on a current and a magnetic field). Small magnets in the whiskers provide the magnetic field, and when the whiskers brush against something, the sensors catch the voltage change from the movement of the magnets. This allows the SCRATCHBot to “see” objects through the whiskers.

The “brain” of the rat is a PC-based neural model that receives information from the whiskers, processes it, and sends a command to the legs (turn left, turn right, etc.). The entire design is based on an incredibly stupid rat—it has no high level cortex, but can still operate basic motor functions.

4 Organic Solar Cells

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Dye-sensitized solar cells are a type of solar cell that use a special form of dye to capture solar energy. When sunlight hits the dye, it’s molecules react and produce electricity. These solar cells are cheaper than their silicon counterparts, but they have one problem: The dye tends to break down after a short amount of time, essentially leaving you with a useless square of plastic.

But the mechanism of the dye isn’t much different from what you find in natural photosynthesis when a plant converts sunlight into energy. So researchers at North Carolina State University started looking at houseplants to see what made them different. The result was a solar cell with an internal vascular system that cycles dye through a branched network of veins. When the dye degrades to the point that it’s no longer producing any electricity, it’s cycled out and replaced with a fresh stream of dye, like a plant delivering nutrients to its leaves.

3 The T8 SpiderBot

If spiders are the stuff from which nightmares are born, the T8 Octopod Robot is a nightmare with a price tag. Roboticists have been trying for years to mimic the architecture of a spider. With eight legs, you get an unprecedented level of stability, which is perfect for search-and-rescue robots in disaster areas. And while we’ve had other versions of spiderlike robots, it’s always been difficult to design one with enough internal control for all eight legs to move in unison, while still retaining the ability to move separately when needed.

The T8 Octopod Robot uses a unique movement engine designed specifically to overcome that obstacle. It’s remote-controlled, and with a simple command the onboard processor will calculate leg trajectory, motor control, and inverse kinematics to coordinate its 26 individual motors. The result is almost too lifelike.

2 Self-Healing Circuits

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Integrated circuit chips are used in virtually every electronic device created today, and despite their small size, most chips have millions of transistors spread across a surface no wider than the head of a nail. If one tiny piece breaks, the entire thing becomes useless. But what if your cell phone or your computer could repair itself like an immune system fighting off an infection? That might be a very real possibility in the near future.

Engineers at the California Institute of Technology have created what they call “indestructible circuits.” To demonstrate, they stuck one under a microscope, melted it with a laser, and watched it figure out a way to keep working. The chips are microscopic; it would take about 75 to cover the face of a penny. In addition to all the circuitry needed for the chip’s main purpose, each chip also contains a variety of sensors and an onboard central processor that detects damage and figures out the most efficient way to get everything back up and running again.

They’ve tested dozens of chips outfitted with the self-healing capability, and no matter what part of the chip is destroyed, it always finds a way to reroute the circuit’s processes in less than a second. And it’s not preprogrammed for any specific threats, like the body’s immune system, it assesses the damage on its own and figures out what actions it needs to take. The only thing remaining for us to do is locate John Connor.

1 Parasitic Skin Grafts

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There is a parasite called the Pomphorhynchus laevis that uses spikes in its head to rip a hole in an animal’s intestines, after which, it shove its head inside and inflates its body to hold itself in place. It’s this unlikely monstrosity that has inspired medical researchers to develop a new type of skin graft. Skin grafts are patches of skin that are transplanted from one part of the body to another, usually to cover a severe burn.

Until now, skin grafts were usually held in place with staples, which carry a high risk of infection. This new biomimetic skin graft, on the other hand, copies almost everything from the most terrifying parasite you’re likely to read about today. The graft has a cluster of microneedles that swell when they’re exposed to water. The needles go into the skin fairly easily, and once inside, they puff out like a balloon to hold the graft in place. Another advantage over staples, which actually end up tearing the tissue around them, is that the microneedles push tissue to the side, rather than damaging it.

25 Ways To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

“Carbon footprint” – It’s the latest buzz word being thrown around by everyone from politicians to college kids but what exactly is it? Well, roughly defined carbon footprint is the amount of green house gas emitted by a person or population over a certain period of time. To make a long story short, the more of these gasses that we let into the atmosphere, the worse it is for the environment. Before moving onto the list, however, we would like to point out that no matter what your stance is on global warming/climate change these ideas at least stand the chance of saving you money. Most of them don’t take that much effort and at the end of the month you may notice less coming out of your bank account to pay for utilities. So consider reducing your carbon footprint.

25. Take a shower

Taking a shower uses about 1/5 of the energy as taking a bath, and as long as you don’t fall asleep it should use less water too. If not, you can always install a “low flow” shower head to limit the amount of water being used.

24. Unplug your phone charger

When you’re not using it that is. According to the US Department of Energy, appliances consume a significant amount of electricity even when they are switched off. Ever notice how your phone charger can get hot with no phone on it?

23. Use the top shelf of the oven

Of course, this depends on how technical you want to get with your food but generally speaking hot air rises. The heating mechanism is usually on the bottom of the oven but because it emits bursts of heat the top of the oven tends to be consistently hotter. While this will cook your food faster you may have to sacrifice some crispiness.

22. Wash with cold water

This is especially true if you are washing or rinsing clothes. About 90% of the energy used in the process goes towards heating the water. So unless you are trying to kill all the germs on your clothes with boiling H2O, this could save you some cash and win you some green points.

21. Buy a laptop instead of a desktop

Laptops can use up to 80% less energy than a desktop, and unless you are a die hard tech junkie that needs to have the fastest processor on the planet, a modern laptop will suit your needs just fine.

20. Avoid black trash bags

Because of the black pigmentation these trash bags cannot be recycled. A better option is to use white trash bags and the best option is of course…none.

19. Filter your own water

This one is huge. Most tap water (in western countries) is safe to drink and by filtering it you can do a lot of saving. First of all, the water is usually flown in from far away which requires fuel and then the packaging itself uses a lot of energy. Besides, buying bottled water only feels good until you check your bank account.

18. Buy local

Once again, if you keep things local it will reduce the amount of fuel that is required to get the food from the farm to your fridge. The same concept goes for other goods and services as well.

17. Replace lightbulbs with CFL bulbs

CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs can last up to 15 times longer and use up to 8o% less energy than regular lightbulbs. Again, this could certainly have the added benefit of streamlining your electric bill.

16. Shift gears sooner

If you drive a manual, shift into a higher gear as soon as you can. On most cars this would mean before 2,500 rpm but on diesel it would be before 2,000 rpm. If you do this right you will find yourself saving some gas because your engine is maintaining a higher speed without working as hard.

15. Take a train

Sure, it takes longer than flying and as of yet there are no trans-oceanic railways but if you can stand a bit of patience and your destination is on the same continent as your point of departure you will save a bit of gas and money with this option.

14. Switch to clean, renewable energy

There are several ways to go about this. Although one way would be to research your energy providers and find one that uses green energy, there are also some DIY options available such as installing your own solar panels.

13. Create a wormery

Yea, we know, this one sounds weird. The truth is though, that worms love your trash, and they can help you turn it into fertilizer for # 11.

12. Carpool

As you may have noticed by now, a lot of these ideas pertain to your vehicle. So, beyond keeping your tires inflated and not carrying unnecessarily heavy loads, one of the best things you can do is not use your car at all. If you really need it though, there are websites out there that will help you find a ride. Besides, who wouldn’t want their own lane?

11. Plant an organic garden

The Daily Green Not only does growing your own food make you a more conscientious global citizen, it brings you a sense of satisfaction and if done right, monetary savings.

10. Buy certified wood

Certified wood comes from responsibly managed forests. This means that the logging in those forests is being monitored to prevent deforestation and maintain biodiversity. One of the largest certification programs is the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).

9. Close your curtains

In winter you can help your space heater out by opening your curtains during the day and closing them at night while in summer you should leave them open at night and close them during the day. By remembering to do this you can save up to 75% on your bill.

8. Use rechargeable batteries

Using rechargeable batteries can shave almost 1,000 pounds off of your carbon footprint by the time the batteries die for good.

7. Drive a hybrid

Although they run a little pricier, over the lifetime of the vehicle you will find yourself more than covering the difference in gasoline savings.

6. Microwave your food

There are several variable at play here, but generally speaking your microwave is more energy efficient than your stove. Of course, using a microwave is not nearly as classy and for large meals an electric stove would probably be a better option, but on average this modern marvel can save you a lot of energy.

5. Buy energy efficient appliances

On the topic of stove and microwaves, there are several ways you can tell whether an appliance is energy efficient or not. One of these ways is to look for the “energy star” logo. This was a program started by the US government in 1990 to help consumers identify energy efficient appliances.

4. Eat in-season produce

Out of season produce increases the costs of refrigeration significantly. Not surprisingly it also comes with a hefty fuel related price tag in order to get it from where it is in-season to where it is being consumed.

3. Read the newspaper online

This one is a no-brainer. By getting your daily fix of news online rather than in print you are saving a lot on paper printing costs.

2. Install ceiling fans

Using ceiling fans instead of air conditioning is sure fire way to rack up your savings. If you live in a climate where you rely heavily on your A/C this could save you up to a ton in CO2 emissions.

1. Plant a tree

The age old classic, we all did it in elementary school, but it is still the most efficient way to help the environment. Not only do they provide shade and oxygen but they consume CO2 at the same time. Doesn’t get much better than that. See, reducing your carbon footprint is not difficult. It just takes a few modification here and there.

Save More Energy With These Solar Energy Tips

Solar energy is a concept that seems especially complicated, but it’s really not all that complicated. You just need the right information to make the most of the choices that you have. Read this article to learn the many benefits that solar energy and businesses alike.

Your solar panels will function correctly if you maintain it regularly. You can save money by doing this yourself, but doing it yourself will save money.

Using any type of solar water heater is an excellent way to help the environment. You will find many different option for solar water tanks. You can install these in a good location or on your roof.

Using any type of solar energy unit can help the environment significantly. Many different water heating systems exist, including tankless solar powered systems. You will only have to install a couple of panels on your roof or front lawn.

Think about whether solar makes sense for your house. There are many factors to think about. Solar energy can be a must-have for those that live in remote locations that are not connected to utility grids. It may also be a good option if you don’t mind paying more upfront in order to realize savings later.

There are many rebates or grants that can help you pay for your solar power. The costs to get a solar energy system up and running can be daunting, but you can frequently find financial help. Look into state and federal grant opportunities intended to encourage the use of renewable energy usage. They can bring down the cost substantially. You may even get some deductions at tax time.

You may be able to get tax credits from your government for using solar energy installation. You might get as high as 30% of the system’s cost.

The best solar panels are attached to your roof so that they can be adjusted for optimal sunlight throughout the seasons. The ideal angle of your panels will change throughout the day and from one season to the next.

The advances in solar power keeps improving. Whether looking for a big system for your business or a smaller one for your home, you can find one if you take the time to look.

Solar energy is one of the most “green” technologies there are because the sun is used and it’s also a renewable resource.

Solar energy is quickly becoming one of the environment. Now is the best time to check out this kind of energy.

If you lease solar panels, be sure the contact can be transferred to your lease. This is essential if you plan to sell your home before it’s paid off. If you can transfer the lease, you can simply make it part of the sale or rental agreement of your home when you move.

If you’re paying for the home, it’s best to wait.

Bigger doesn’t mean better when you are considering solar panels.All these things should be considered if you are looking to make this investment.

Regardless of the solar system you choose to use, be sure that you angle the panels toward the sun.

Consider a backup power option, just in case you have a problem with your solar panels. A generator is a good option, but you could also remain connected to the main power grid and draw power when your panels are down. Keep your generator well maintained and run it regularly to keep it in good condition.

Have your solar energy system inspected bi-annually to keep it running its best. During this inspection, your technician will ensure all connections are tight, make sure panels are angled properly and make sure the inverter stays on and works right.

Solar Energy

You should feel a bit more knowledgeable about solar energy at this point. The greater your knowledge base, the more confidence you will have in your solar energy system. You know that this is the right choice, and now you have the knowledge to help you get started.

Even if you live in a colder climate, you can reap the benefits of solar energy. It doesn’t need to be like Florida all year round for it to be a big part of your energy savings goals. In fact, a lot people report that they get a lot of solar power from days that are not that sunny.