The fact that portable electronics are getting to the point where battery life is simply not a concern is absolutely wonderful. We're not quite there yet, but we're so, so close. Intel is working on a new processor architecture that can run itself using nothing but light: no plugs, no batteries, just solar power.
Back in '09, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) gave Idaho-based Solar Roadways $100,000 to do what the company's name implies: build a prototype smart road that could generate electricity (as well as perform other tricks). Now, Solar Roadways is taking the next step and making its concept a reality.
Solar panels: Great idea if you're a spaceship, not so good anywhere it gets dark. There are some ways around this limitation, but MIT had a better idea: they invented a photovoltaic panel that doesn't need sunlight at all, and they've built it into a button-sized generator that can run your smartphone for a week straight.
Solar power is wonderful. Really, it is. And if you don't think so, it means that you hate the planet, and you don't hate the planet, do you? The one teeny tiny little problem with solar power is that so far it's proven to be more or less useless with the things that could really benefit from it, like mobile electronics. So what's the problem?
NASCAR racing and treehugging are not activities that normally go hand in hand, but a California NASCAR circuit is making a big push to ensure that their facility is as green as possible.
The Sahara desert: it's hot, with lots of sand and not much else. To you and me that might look like nothing more than a recipe for boredom and an epic sunburn, but to Markus Kayser and his solar-powered sand printer, it's just a giant pile of raw materials which can be used to make anything you want out of glass.
The problem with most solar power schemes, is that they don't work too well when there isn't any sun. Not so with the vast GemaSolar array in Spain, which stores some of its power in a massive battery allowing it to deliver power 24/7.
Renewable energy's dependence on weather is one of the factors that's kept it from replacing oil and coal and nuclear and other nasty evil polluting power sources for day-to-day use. In a stroke of genius, scientists in the U.K. have stuck a solar powered generator onto a rain and wind-powered generator to make an all-weather power harvester.
Trains are already one of the greenest ways to move people and goods, but a new two mile long tunnel in Belgium is making them even greener by adding some serious renewable power to the system.
If you're in the market for a new death ray, an important thing to consider is what you'll be able to do with it when you're not busy committing nefarious acts. One option is coffee roasting, and, if you're so inclined, you can even contribute to an open source project that's looking to create a giant mirror array capable of superheating air to 2,000 degrees.