Low-cost solar absorber could supercharge solar power plants

April 6, 2017 by  
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One of the major challenges in developing solar panels has been creating photovoltaic cells which can absorb as much solar energy as possible – without overheating to the point that they begin to simply radiate energy back into the atmosphere. In the past, this has meant that commercially available solar cells only manage to convert about 30 percent of sunlight they absorb into energy. Researchers from Purdue University may have found a way to overcome this issue by modifying regular silicon wafers to more efficiently absorb the energy at higher temperatures than ever before. The new study, published in the journal Applied Physics Letters , outlines how silicon wafers can be coated with thin films of tantalum and silicon nitride to enhance their ability to absorb sunlight. The modified surface is then able to selectively absorb photons within a certain range on the light spectrum, while reflecting those that cannot be used. Related: Flexible new solar panel is almost 80% lighter than traditional panels The resulting solar cells can withstand temperatures up to 535 degrees Celsius without any performance or stability issues, converting a staggering 50 percent of sunlight into useable energy. This research has some interesting applications – for instance, the same film could be painted on the surface of mirrored parabolic troughs used in concentrated solar plants in order to make them even more efficient. While the film isn’t yet ready for any kind of commercial application, the authors of the study hope it will inspire others to try a similar experimental approach to enhancing solar absorption. Via Phsy.org Images via Purdue University and Shutterstock

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Leonardo DiCaprio says climate action is America’s "biggest economic opportunity"

December 27, 2016 by  
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Actor Leonardo DiCaprio is taking President-elect Donald Trump to task on the topic of climate change. At this month’s United Nations Correspondents Association awards ceremony, DiCaprio called out a “few, very prominent people” who still deny the science on climate change – and then suggested that climate action offers America’s “biggest economic opportunity.” Hopes soared when DiCaprio met with the President-elect’s daughter , Ivanka Trump, earlier this month. The actor even met with the President-elect to clue him in on the fact that renewable energy could generate millions of jobs. But with top government positions offered to people like ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson and Energy Transfer Partners board member Rick Perry , it seems Trump refuses to acknowledge the science on climate change. Related: Leonardo DiCaprio schools Donald Trump on the benefits of renewable energy As DiCaprio received a prize at the U.N. event, he said the truth about climate change is spreading like wildfire. He said the world’s scientists have come to “overwhelming conclusions” that climate change is “largely human-caused and needs immediate urgent attention.” The actor and activist also said that “In less than 100 years of our pollution-based prosperity, we humans have put our entire existence in jeopardy.” DiCaprio’s recently released film Before the Flood is one of the most-viewed documentaries in history – and according to the actor, the impressive statistics show “just how much the world cares about the issue of climate change.” National Geographic Channel issued a press release back in early November stating the film was the “most-watched documentary in the world since 2000, and the most watched National Geographic film ever released.” DiCaprio also had a message of hope for those who fear backward environmental policies from Trump. “To those who may be discouraged by nay-sayers, let me remind you, the environmental awakening is all over the world and the progress we have made so far…has always been because of people, not governments.” The actor listed purchasing cleaner vehicles, eating smaller amounts of meat, and businesses going carbon-neutral as steps people have taken to battle climate change without the help of any government. Via Reuters Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Leonardo DiCaprio eyes Captain Planet revival with a contemporary twist

October 19, 2016 by  
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Leonardo DiCaprio may have found his next project to help the planet: a movie starring 90’s cartoon environmental superhero Captain Planet . Captain Planet and the Planeteers ended in late 1992, but it seems DiCaprio thinks the themes from the old TV show are relevant today. There’s a twist: sources told The Hollywood Reporter we might see Captain Planet in a new light, as a ” washed-up has-been .” DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way Productions and Paramount are reportedly attempting to obtain the rights for the TV series. DiCaprio would be a producer on the film – no word yet on whether or not he would play one of the characters. Jono Matt and Glenn Powell’s names have been floated to pen the screenplay. Related: Leonardo DiCaprio could be headed to Mars with SpaceX The original Captain Planet TV series followed the adventures of five children possessing magic rings that, when used together, could summon the environmental superhero. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter a DiCaprio Captain Planet film would be set after the timeline of the TV series. Instead of the hero taking “pollution down to zero,” Captain Planet could be portrayed as a ” washed-up has-been who needs the kids more than they need him .” Actor David Coburn, who voiced Captain Planet, has said he’d love to be involved with a Captain Planet movie. He told The Hollywood Reporter , “There’s nobody better to play Captain Planet than Leo. Well there’s me, then there’s Leo. But if it can’t be me, if Captain Planet can’t be a 51-year-old Jew, then Leo’s a good second choice.” Even though the TV show ended decades ago, Captain Planet is still making his mark through the Captain Planet Foundation , an active organization that works to inspire kids to become ” agents of environmental change ” through clubs, programs, and events. Via The Hollywood Reporter Images via Leonardo DiCaprio Facebook and Captain Planet Facebook

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Planet Earth nature documentary is returning for a second season this year

February 29, 2016 by  
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A full 10 years after its initial debut, Planet Earth will be returning to the small screen for a second season this year. Following in its own innovative footsteps as the first BBC nature documentary to be shot in high definition, the series will now be filmed in 4K. It is hoped the new spellbinding images will propel 4K technology, just as the initial series did for HD. Read the rest of Planet Earth nature documentary is returning for a second season this year

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Leonardo DiCaprio will produce a dystopian climate change film based on a YA novel

February 5, 2016 by  
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Leonardo DiCaprio has announced plans to produce a post-apocalyptic climate change film based on a book for young adults. The Sandcastle Empire novel by Kayla Olson will be imagined on the big screen as an unsettling warning against what feels like an inevitable, dystopian future. Read the rest of Leonardo DiCaprio will produce a dystopian climate change film based on a YA novel

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Mongolian eagle huntress who broke gender barriers steals the show at Sundance

January 28, 2016 by  
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A young Mongolian girl has broken through gender barriers by learning how to hunt with golden eagles (an activity traditionally practiced by men in her culture) – and her story has made its way to the Sundance film festival . Aisholpan previously turned heads in a series of photographs , fearlessly taking on the male-dominated tradition, and now she’s gaining international recognition on the big screen – and she was just honored in a Comanche naming ceremony in Utah. Read the rest of Mongolian eagle huntress who broke gender barriers steals the show at Sundance

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SeaWorld to end killer whale shows in San Diego

November 10, 2015 by  
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San Diego’s SeaWorld park just announced plans to phase out its theatrical “Shamu” show next year, following protests from animal rights groups about the treatment of the parks’ captive killer whales . By the end of 2016 , the show will be replaced by an experience focused on mimicking the animals’ natural habitat. Those touched by the film Blackfish and those critical of the ethical considerations of keeping whales in captivity, however, are not likely to stop the momentum of their protests until the whales are back in their actual habitats. Read the rest of SeaWorld to end killer whale shows in San Diego

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Man shatters slack line record 1,000 feet in the sky with zero safety gear

August 19, 2015 by  
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Click here to view the embedded video. Spencer Seabrooke just shattered the highest slacklining record and confirmed all our fears of heights in one fell swoop. Conquering the 210-foot gap between two mountains in Squamish, BC seemed like no big feat for the professional daredevil from British Columbia. The video above shows him stepping carefully over the 951-foot drop – and expertly catching his falls – barely breaking a sweat. Read the rest of Man shatters slack line record 1,000 feet in the sky with zero safety gear

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Man shatters slack line record 1,000 feet in the sky with zero safety gear

Man shatters slack line record 1,000 feet in the sky with zero safety gear

August 19, 2015 by  
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Click here to view the embedded video. Spencer Seabrooke just shattered the highest slacklining record and confirmed all our fears of heights in one fell swoop. Conquering the 210-foot gap between two mountains in Squamish, BC seemed like no big feat for the professional daredevil from British Columbia. The video above shows him stepping carefully over the 951-foot drop – and expertly catching his falls – barely breaking a sweat. Read the rest of Man shatters slack line record 1,000 feet in the sky with zero safety gear

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Man shatters slack line record 1,000 feet in the sky with zero safety gear

Gorgeous Sayama Forest Chapel in Japan resembles hands clasped in prayer

August 19, 2015 by  
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