Origami in Space

An ancient art form is beginning to take off in a way no one thought possible: on a spaceship. Origami, or Japanese folding paper, is currently being developed into solar panels at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at The California Institute of Technology. Solar panels that have endless applications. Space travel has already turned over the possibility of solar-powered flight via folding panels, but this particular reincarnation is different. Developers cite a more intricate fold that allows for efficient deployment of the solar arrays. And it doesn’t stop there. Origami may one day be used in self-assembling solar arrays that are launched into space to power the earth below.

Sand Power: A Better Battery

Technology of the future is hard to see coming – sometimes because you can't see it. Advances in nanotechnology are the driving force behind longer lasting Lithium-ion batteries. Currently, Lithium-ion batteries are used to power every-day technologies like cell phones, computers, cameras and cars. Their energy source is a carbon-based graphite anode, which is nothing short of polarizing. Battery life has always been a major concern with Li-ion batteries. The solution is the most abundant compound in the earth's crust: SiO2, - or – more commonly – sand. The next generation of battery technology is using sand as a source for the production of nano-silicon, an anode material for Li-ion batteries.

Record Radiation in South America

Astrobiologists from the United States and Germany recorded the highest known level of solar UV radiation to reach Earth's surface. This was around 10 years ago. On December 29, 2003, the UV Index (UVI) peaked, reaching the blistering number of 43.3 over the Andes Mountains in Bolivia. To put this in context, a beachgoer in the United States would expect a UVI of 8 or 9 on a summer day. Even with an 8 or a 9, one may not escape the day without sunburn. Nonetheless, it has taken scientists 10 years to detail a report of this data while taking into account all of the variables and anomalies monitored from an international network of dosimeters – or Eldonets (European Light Dosimeter Network) – that measure UV radiation worldwide. This system is comprised of more than 100 stations across 5 continents to account for variation in the atmosphere above each station.

Choosing the Right Path: How Air Travel Affects Climate Change

It has been well documented that one negative of air travel – besides the food – is the emission of CO2 from jet engines. But what about contrails? Dr. Emma Irvine, Professor Keith Shine, and Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, at the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading have linked contrails to global climate change in a study published in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters. According to their report, contrails may have a greater radiative forcing (the capacity for an agent to enact climate change via warming) than CO2.

Soccer Under The Sun

The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is underway and off to a bright start. For the first time in the tournament's history, matches will be held in stadiums powered by solar energy. Footballers from the 32 nations represented may curse the sun and the swelter it brings, but Yingli Solar, the world's largest solar panel manufacturer and a FIFA World Cup Sponsor, has captured an opportunity on the world's biggest stage. Yingli Solar estimates its solar panels to generate more than 1MW per year and clean electricity for 25 years or more. The iconic Estádio do Maracanã that witnessed Pelé's 1000th career goal and much of Brazil's rich footballing history is one of the two sites that received this modern upgrade. This Rio de Janeiro landmark that opened in 1950 now boasts 1,500 Yingli Solar panels with the capability to produce 550MWh of clean electricity per year.