Sunday, November 27, 2011

SUNDAY IS FOR POETRY: Thank you to Earth

by Joanne Shenandoah/Lawrence Laughing

In respect to our home the earth,
we say thank you to the earth
For everything that she gives to us;
nourishing us every day.

We give thanks to all the water in the world;
everything within that water.

We give thanks to all the grass that lives on the land.
We give thanks to all the berries, the fruits, the medicines.
We give thanks to the animals that keep the forests clean.

We give thanks to all the trees for their different uses
that they give to us,
For shelters, for fires that we make
In the winter time keeping us warm.

We give thanks to the birds who sing their beautiful songs.
We give thanks to the four winds.
We give thanks to the grandfathers;
The ones that bring the rain.
We give thanks to our oldest brother, the sun,
Who shines his light everyday.

We give thanks to our oldest grandmother, the moon,
For she is the one that has been charged with the duty

To make sure that light has a continuance.
She is the one that watches over all the movements
Of the water and also the water within us.
We give thanks to the stars, her helper.

And we give a special thanksgiving to the four
sacred beings that watch over the human family.
Sometimes we notice them when we are traveling
in dangerous places.
They are the ones that come to our minds

And say go around, don't go any further.
To protect us and steer us away from danger.

So that's what we do.
We start right from the earth
and we climb the ladder right to the special place
beyond the heavens.
Where there's a special spirit that lives there.
The spirit that made it possible for us to be here
And everything that we have mentioned.

And so with the collectiveness of our minds and hearts,
We send a special thanksgiving and greeting
To the great spirit of us all.

A Pocket Full of Miracles

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Meet a 13-year-old solar panel developer by John D. Sutter, CNN

Please pause playlist at bottom of page to hear/watch video.

Obvious statement: Lots of middle schoolers have been outside.

But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that almost none of them look up at the trees, see the Fibonacci Sequence in the branches, and use that insight to develop new and more-efficient methods of arranging solar panels.

Stuff like that only happens to Aidan Dwyer.

This 13-year-old from Long Island, New York, was a presenter at the recent PopTech conference, where he spoke with CNN. He says his method for arranging solar panels - based on the mathematics of tree branches - is 20 to 50% more efficient than traditional solar arrays, especially in low-light conditions, such as cloudy days in the winter or in places where there are lots of trees and tall buildings.

"My design is like a tree," he said, "but instead of having leaves it has solar panels at the ends (of the branches)."

Dwyer created a prototype of this tree-like solar panel array for a science fair with the help of his granddad. He ordered the solar panels online and the pair built the rest of it together. For his efforts, he won the Young Naturalist award this year from the American Museum of Natural History in New York. (You can see a photo of the solar-panel prototype on that museum's website).

This idea for this energy-saving project hit Dwyer when he was going for a walk in the woods near his home in New York:

One day I was just walking through the woods - well, on a winter hiking trip - and I noticed that the tree branches collect sunlight by going up into the air. And I thought: 'Maybe if we put solar panels on the ends of the branches it would collect a lot of sunlight.'

He also made another mind-boggling observation: That tree branches spiral up the trunk based on a mathematic concept called the Fibonacci Sequence. I had to look that equation up before my interview with Dwyer, but I didn't really need to. He can explain it off the top of his head:

The Fibonacci Sequence was made by a medieval mathematician, Fibonacci, and he played with a math puzzle to figure out how fast rabbits could reproduce over time. How it's done is you start with 0 and 1, and then you add the two numbers in the series together to get the next number in the sequence. So it's like 1, 1, 2, 3, 5,
8, 13, 21, 34, and so on.

He added:

The fraction for an oak tree is 2:5, which means five branches spiral around the trunk two times to reach the same starting point. So, if you start out at 75 degrees, and you get five branches to go around the trunk twice, then you'll be back at 75 degrees.

Right-o, kid.

Dwyer said he's been contacted by professors and other middle schools who want to work with him on this project, but not all scientists are impressed with his work. Some science bloggers have tried to debunk some of Dwyer's concept, saying, among other things:

Aidan did not actually discover a more efficient way to convert solar energy into power as he claimed and these numerous publications reported. In fact, Aidan’s essay, while extremely well written, contains methodological flaws and incorrect conclusions.

That blog post, on a site called The Optimiskeptic, questions whether Dwyer used the right measurements to make his conclusions:

I’m not entirely sure why Aidan thought that he could measure power intake by measuring voltage on his solar cells. I’m not entirely sure why the different arrangements yielded different voltage totals ... I do know that solar cells are designed to convert energy from photons into potential energy in the form of electrons: 'charging the battery.' Levels of voltage have nothing to do with how charged that battery is, however, and at no time during his experiment was Aidan actually measuring how much power was being converted by each of the solar cell arrangements.

Dwyer, for his part, says the bloggers are missing the point:

Some of the commenters were encouraging me and some were giving me ideas to expand my research. But some, I felt like they didn't understand my project. Their points weren't really related to my project. I was trying to see if the tree design could collect more sunlight - not more open current voltage. But I also measured open-current voltage and it collected 20% more (than flat-panel solar arrays).

Furthermore, he said, his panels collected 50% more light in low-light conditions than flat-panel arrangements, like those found on top of homes.

So there. Of course, science is a conversation. Debate is a good thing. Who knows whether Dwyer's tree-based solar panels really will change the world - but how cool is it that a 13-year-old has come up with an idea that even has the potential to bump the clean-tech industry a bit into the future?

Dwyer is among the people most shocked by all the attention his project has gotten. He's not sure what to make of it all - or how to handle conversations with adults for that matter:

At PopTech I feel a little lonely because I'm the youngest one there - like, by a big range. It's pretty lonely being the youngest one ... I don't know how to start a conversation with an adult yet - so I just have to wait for them to ask me questions, and all that. They just come up to me and go 'You're that kid!' And then they ask me about my project and they ask me about how I found that idea and then the conversation forms.

One thing I found particularly impressive about Dwyer is that he come across as smart, composed - and normal. The phrase "child genius" brings to mind the social-awkwardness of the kids in "The Royal Tenenbaums" or overly-adult-seemingness of that child actor in "The Sixth Sense." Dwyer doesn't emit those qualities. He seems like pretty much any other middle schooler you might meet - until you ask him about Fibonacci.

"I'm starting to get into photography. I do a sailing program in the summer. I play golf - and I, like, hang out with my friends," he said.

Those friends, by the way, don't quite get all this solar-panel business.

"They're really impressed - but they don't really understand it," he said, cracking a nervous smile. "I don't really talk to them about it."

He saves those conversations for reporters - and for his conference lectures, of course.

Young Aiden Dwyer is a true inspiration to our and his generations!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Joe Frasier (January 12, 1944-November 7, 2011)

Joseph William "Joe" Frazier, also known as Smokin' Joe, was a former Olympic and Undisputed World Heavyweight boxing champion, whose professional career lasted from 1965 to 1976 with a brief comeback in 1981.

Frazier emerged as the top contender in the late 1960s, defeating the likes of Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena, Buster Mathis, Eddie Machen, Doug Jones, George Chuvalo and Jimmy Ellis en route to becoming undisputed heavyweight champion in 1970, and followed up by defeating Muhammad Ali on points in the highly-anticipated "Fight of the Century" in 1971. Two years later Frazier lost his title when he was knocked out by George Foreman. He fought on, beating Joe Bugner, losing a rematch to Ali, and beating Quarry and Ellis again.

Frazier's last world title challenge came in 1975, but he was beaten by Ali in their brutal rubbermatch. He retired in 1976 following a second loss to Foreman. He made a comeback in 1981, fighting just once, before retiring for good. The International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO) rates Frazier among the ten greatest heavyweights of all time.[2] He is an inductee of both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the World Boxing Hall of Fame.

Frazier's style was often compared to that of Henry Armstrong and occasionally Rocky Marciano. He was dependent on bobbing, weaving, grunting, snorting as he grimaced with all out aggression wearing down his opponents with relentless pressure. His best known punch was a powerful left hook, which accounted for most of his knockouts. Compared to Ali's style, he was close enough to the ideal bruiser that some in the press and media characterized the bouts as the answer to the classic question: "What happens when a boxer meets with a brawler?"

After retiring, Frazier made cameo appearances in several Hollywood movies, and two episodes of The Simpsons. His son Marvis became a boxer — trained by Frazier himself — although was unable to emulate his father's success. Frazier continued to train fighters in his gym in Philadelphia. His later years saw the continuation of his bitter rivalry with Ali in which the two periodically exchanged insults, interspersed with brief reconciliations.

Frazier was diagnosed with liver cancer in late September 2011 and admitted to hospice care. He died November 7, 2011.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Andy Rooney (January 14, 1919-November 4, 2011)

Please pause playlist at bottom of page to hear/watch video.