Solar energy in the Gobi Desert

China is currently the world’s fastest growing market for solar energy, and these two images of solar panels in the Gobi Desert, captured by the Advanced Land Imager on the Earth Observing-1 satellite in 2009 and 2015 respectively, demonstrate the country’s growing demand for solar energy in just six years. The first solar farms were built on the outskirts of the town of Dunhuang in Gusan Province by the National Energy Administration (NEA) in 2009, but with limited urban space, the NEA decided to expand their solar farms into the Gobi Desert to take advantage of the abundant sunlight and empty land. After the NEA installed 8 GW worth of solar panels in 2014, China became the world’s largest market for solar energy, with a total capacity of more than 28 GW. In 2015 alone, China is reportedly already increasing solar panel capacity by at least 5 GW.

However, that 28 GW of solar power constitutes only 2.1% of China’s total energy production, with coal still the leading energy source. Solar energy is also notoriously difficult to harness efficiently, and China is still figuring out how to more effectively transmit solar power to more populated regions in the south using appropriate power grid systems. Even so, the solar panel industry remains a booming field, mainly due to growing domestic and international demand for greener energy, especially in Japan in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.


Photo credits:

More reading:

Why solar energy is easier said than done:

Click here to support Going to College Early by Breanna Marriott
Hello! I am currently a rising high school Junior who has received the oppurtunity of a lifetime- going to college full time at 16! Now you may notice the goal monetary amount is pretty high, but it's due to the delay in my application process on my school's behalf. That being said, there were li...

“Shows how rubber is transformed from its crude form into a tire.”

16 minutes, silent

Online Materials Information Resource - MatWeb
Material property database with data sheets of thermoplastic and thermoset polymers such as nylon, polycarbonate, polyethylene; metal alloys, aluminum, steel, titanium, nickel, cobalt, and zinc alloys; ceramics, lubricants. Free search tools include mechanical property searches. Comparison and exports to Finite Element Analysis FEA software SolidWorks, ANSYS, ALGOR, and more.

Properties for almost any material you could want.


A new gel helps wounds heal

Researchers from UCLA have developed an injectable hydrogel that helps skin wounds heal faster. 

The new synthetic polymer material creates an instant scaffold, sort of like stacked gumballs, that allows new tissue to latch on and grow within the cavities formed between linked spheres of gel.

Conventionally, ointments and other hydrogel dressings have been used to fill in wounds to keep the areas moist and accelerate healing. But none of the materials used now provide a scaffold to allow new tissue to grow while the dressing itself degrades. As a result, the new tissue growth is relatively slow and fragile.

So bringing about an injectable biomaterial that promotes rapid regeneration of tissue has been a “holy grail” in the field of tissue engineering, said co-principal investigator Dino Di Carlo.

They envision the material being useful for a wide variety of wound application, including lacerations to large-area burns.

UC Berkeley researchers have also been developing new approaches to tissue engineering. Last March, their advancement in “herding cells” marked a new direction for smart bandages.

Learn more about how this new gel works

Owls have a lot going for them: good looks, great eyesight, and the power of nearly silent flight

That last characteristic got engineers thinking, what if it were possible to impart Mother Nature’s design for silent owl wings into things like wind turbines, allowing them to quietly operate at higher speeds and generate megawatts of additional power?

Researchers at the University of Cambridge say they’ve taken some good steps toward doing just that, announcing this week their design for a new coating material that mimics the complex structure of an owl’s wing.

“No other bird has this sort of intricate wing structure,” said lead researcher Nigel Peake, in a news release. “Much of the noise caused by a wing - whether it’s attached to a bird, a plane or a fan - originates at the trailing edge where the air passing over the wing surface is turbulent. The structure of an owl’s wing serves to reduce noise by smoothing the passage of air as it passes over the wing - scattering the sound so their prey can’t hear them coming.”

To replicate the trailing-edge structure scientists looked a variety of designs, including covering wind turbines with a material that’s similar to that used in wedding veils. They also created a 3-D printed plastic material which, in tests, reduced noise generated by turbine blades by 10 decibels. 

The findings were presented at the 21st American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Aeroacoustics Conference in Dallas.

(Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons)


Interning at NASA is awesome!! …so I had to make some gifs

So the top gif is me sitting in front of NASA’s thermal testing chamber. At this time the chamber was heating up so I had a 45 min break before taking data again. We were testing HD video cameras that will be on the outside of the space station in a few months. They will mostly help with navigation and systems checking.

The second and last images are in front of one of NASA’s 360 degree virtual reality chambers. I’ll post more about these in the future, they are super cool and deserve a post all to their own. The third image is me programming in a good old Linux terminal.

…And the fourth image is me basking in the glory of an Saturn V rocket. This is the rocket that took us to the moon! If any of you ever get the opportunity to see one I highly recommend it.

So if you guys want to keep up with my NASA intern adventures I post about it about twice a week, check out astronomicalwonders.tumblr.com, and you can follow my adventures on twitter @astro_wonders if you so choose. also check out ourtech she’s the one in the last pic!

Cellulose from wood can be printed in 3D

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have managed to print and dry three-dimensional objects made entirely by cellulose for the first time with the help of a 3D-bioprinter. They also added carbon nanotubes to create electrically conductive material.

The effect is that cellulose and other raw material based on wood will be able to compete with fossil-based plastics and metals in the on-going additive manufacturing revolution, which started with the introduction of the 3D-printer. 

Read more    

2014 Winner of the “Wellcome Image” Awards: Bat.

Its creator, Chris Thorn, explained: “The X-ray image was made using minimal kV exposure with a micro-focus system. Exposure parameters were deliberately controlled to allow the complete natural form to be imaged, and to suppress invasive examination of the torso and cranial region”

Judges selected this image as they loved its classic horror like pose.