Loser: A Foggy Notion

Sprawling solar power plant soaks German consumers

6 min read
Illustration: David Plunkert
Illustration: David Plunkert

For solar photovoltaic power, the growing consensus among experts is that small really is beautiful. From Southern California to Sydney, Australia, engineers have for years favored modest, distributed installations of perhaps 1 to 1000 kilowatts, affixed to the roofs of the homes or office buildings that receive the sun-generated electricity.

The alternative, “central-station” approach concentrates more generation into fewer, more remote, and much larger installations. It never caught on in most of the developed world for several reasons, chief among them the 10-percent loss of power incurred when distributing solar power on the grid. Furthermore, no one really wants to look at vast agglomerations of solar panels sprawled over dozens of hectares of picturesque countryside.

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New Faraday Cages Can Be Switched Off and On

Built out of a novel material called MXene, these cages could block and allow signals as desired

3 min read
New Faraday Cages Can Be Switched Off and On

Radio waves interacting with a MXene film.

Chong Min Koo

Advanced new Faraday cages—the metal mesh enclosures that can block wireless signals—can also be switched on and off for reversible protection against noise, a new study finds.

In addition, these new shields can be easily fabricated through a technique akin to spray-painting, which could help them find use in electronics, researchers say.

Similarly to the way window blinds adjust how much visible light enters a room, engineers want dynamic control over the electromagnetic waves used in wireless communications. This ability would let devices receive and transmit signals when desired but also protect them against electromagnetic interference, such as static and jamming, and help them avoid being spied on.

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Forecasting the Ice Loss of Greenland’s Glaciers With Viscoelastic Modeling

Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany are developing new models to simulate how glaciers behave

8 min read
Aerial view of Nioghalvfjerdsbræ showing the extensive patterns of the crevasses

This sponsored article is brought to you by COMSOL.

To someone standing near a glacier, it may seem as stable and permanent as anything on Earth can be. However, Earth’s great ice sheets are always moving and evolving. In recent decades, this ceaseless motion has accelerated. In fact, ice in polar regions is proving to be not just mobile, but alarmingly mortal.

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