EDN's Senior Technical Editor Brian Dipert has written an excellent feature on wind turbines and how to site them. He also sides with Scientific American's proclamation that the debate is over: Global warming is a manmade problem.
Low cost, plentiful, clean, and, in all other respects, "green." These words describe wind power in a nutshell. So, why is it so unpopular? The devil is in the details, along with our reluctance to adopt an unknown technology. With fossil-fuel prices on the rise, their supply increasingly unstable, and global-warming effects growing, however, the wind-turbine alternative is garnering overdue attention.
The debate on global warming is over, according to Scientific American (Reference 1). With those no-holds-barred words, the respected journal introduced the theme of its September 2006 special issue, "Energy's Future: How to Power the Economy and Still Fight Global Warming." Diminishing but still lingering debate within the scientific community hasn't completely settled the question of whether — and, if so, to what degree — increased carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas concentration in the earth's atmosphere have caused global warming (Figure 1). But Scientific American's Special Projects Editor Gary Stix seems convinced that a material link exists: "Present levels of carbon dioxide — nearing 400 ppm in the earth's atmosphere — are higher than they have been at any time in the past 650,000 years and could easily surpass 500 ppm by 2050 without radical intervention. ... Almost all of the 20 hottest years on record have occurred since the 1980s. No one knows exactly what will happen if things are left unchecked — the exact date when a polar ice sheet will complete a phase change from solid to liquid cannot be foreseen with precision. ... But no climatologist wants to test what will arise if carbon-dioxide levels drive much higher than 500 ppm" (Reference ).
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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