Friday, August 8, 2008
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.