Thanks, Beth, that's a really neat story. Interesting that the Fibonacci Sequence, which appears so many places in nature like galaxy spirals and the nautilus shell, also governs how trees collect solar energy. I wonder how many other system designs could be improved by applying the math?
It's interesting to see how the solar/photovoltaic industry is evolved both on the macro and micro scale. You have a lot of large companies involved, which makes sense because panel production is expensive and also you need economies of scale. Further, you have a lot of high-flying startups (qv. Solyndra) -- an arena where we're already seeing a shakeout, I might add. Here, with Lee, I think what we're seeing is another side of the industry, a small-to-mid scale niche where we will see a lot of players, perhaps because the end-user market is far from monolithic.
Love the fact that Lee Bristol got into solar panels as a career change after a long-running stint as an IT consultant. Just goes to prove that with the right enthusiasm and dedication, there are countless possibilities to shift gears mid-career.
Coincidently, I just read something this morning about a solar panel entrepreneur that will likely give Bristol and others in the industry a run for the money--that is, when he finally grows up, graduates college, and makes his mark. This 13-year old came up with a method for arranging solar panels based on the arrangement of tree branches and using a mathematical method called the Fibonacci Sequence. The youth recently won the Young Naturalist award from the American Museum of History in New York. He claims his method is 20% to 50% more efficient than traditional solar arrays, and some scientists say he might be on to something.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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