Friday, August 8, 2008

Huge Solar/Hydrogen-Power Breakthrough?

I'm always wary when a discovery is described as a breakthrough, but this may be the real deal.

MIT scientists have developed a quite simple technology that will both greatly improve solar panels and hydrogen-powered vehicles.

This research was just published two weeks ago, and before getting too excited, it's wise to wait a couple of months to see whether the world's scientists poke so many holes in it that it looks like swiss cheese, but for now, it appears we finally have an alternative energy discovery that is cause for celebration. I've read a number of articles about it, all positive, and I find the Popular Mechanics one the most interesting.

Side note: This research was funded by a family foundation, not by the government. I've become increasingly convinced that the government funding process tends to exclude out-of-the-box ideas: The proposals are reviewed by scientists steeped in conventional approaches to science. They reward their buddies who do the same sort of work they do. In contrast, a private funder is more objective: looking for the research proposals likely to yield big breakthroughs. Another example of that: Craig Venter's privately funded effort decoded the human genome years faster and much less expensively than the government funded effort. But perhaps my position here is just another example of my bias against government-run programs.


Dave said...

You're probably right. The Stanley brothers were self funded and so was Siegfried Marcus, inventor of the gasoline engine -- 1869, if I recall correctly. Marcus was very poor. He was also a loner and many people thought he was a nut.

Marty Nemko said...

Dave, I'm glad that after my rather strong disagreement with you on the religion issue (He's a Christian who believes in Eucharist,etc), that I can agree with you here.

Many if not most people think that my views on gender, race, and on education are wrong-headed if not downright nutty. What keeps me going, in part, is the hope that time will vindicate me.

Dave said...

I enjoy reading your articles and I have to say that what you write on higher education is 100% true. I know because I experience it every single day. I see the disconnect between the academics and undergraduate students. I see how students are getting ripped off. And I see how right-of-center ideas are denigrated in these institutions. There is no balance. I would love to have been a student at City College, CUNY in the early 1960s - before the counter-cultural movement, and where Jews were the majority. A competitive environment and imagine the kinds of debates that went on!

If it makes you feel any better, my fellow students have called me a racist and a homophobe. My parents say I am a misogynist. This was after I showed them your 2006 gold diggers article. I told them I agreed with it. I'm sure my supervisor thinks I am an islamophobe and ethnocentrist.

This blog is the only place where I feel I can express my views freely.

I thank you for it.

Anonymous said...

The solution to energy problems, as with most other political problens, lies in letting the free market work.

For example, one of the best solutions to warming involves an invention of the private sector: the air conditioner.

Dr. Micahel R. Edelstein


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