John Perlin

Nov 302015
 
Small solar collectors are simple devices that focus the sun’s heat into a concentrated area, often generating enough heat for cooking. Today use of solar cookers is proliferating in undeveloped parts of the world because they provide a safe and clean alternative to fuel sources such as wood and kerosene. Solar cookers, however, are far from a recent invention. The earliest solar cookers were developed in the 1700s, when the use of clear glass for covering window openings proliferated...
Jun 232015
 
Placing a lit candle next to bars of selenium, British scientists, William Grylls Adams and Richard Evans Day, 140 years ago, discovered that selenium could transform light directly into electricity. Reading about their results, American inventor Charles Fritts put together the first photovoltaic array on a New York rooftop in 1884. He optimistically predicted that soon his modules would compete in the market with the new electric power plants established by Thomas Edison. But the science of...
Apr 202015
 
The first scientific revolution began 2300 years ago when Greek geometricians applied mathematics to produce technology that created something never seen in nature – burning combustibles by sunlight. The ancient Greeks called these solar parabolic concentrators “Burning Mirrors.” Diocles, a Greek geometrician writing in the middle of the second-century BCE, credits Dositheus, alive a century earlier, as well as a colleague of Archimedes, as the first to build such a device...