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An artist rendering of the potential orbiting solar plant. It would beam power to a massive lake-sized collector for optimal efficiency.   (Source: Kris Holland/Mafic Studios)

John C. Mankins, since leaving NASA, has spoken about his dream of space power both at various high profile news conferences. Now he has his biggest audience yet, with a historic proof-of-concept test airing on the Discovery channel.  (Source: Space Power Association)
New advances in power transmission would make Tesla proud

After decades of dormancy, interest in transmitting power wirelessly is finally heating up in the tech community.  Intel recently demoed its new wireless charging tech which it says could power its next generation chipsets.  Now, a former NASA researcher is revealing even grander plans to transform the business of power generation as we know it.

Funded by the Discovery Channel, John C. Mankins finished a four month experiment which began by collecting solar power, nothing out of the ordinary.  What happened next was relatively extraordinary, though -- he transmitted the power 92 miles (148 km) between two Hawaiian Islands. 

Terrestrial power transmission is only of interest to Mr. Mankins as a proof of concept.  Mr. Mankins' true plans are out of this world.  He envisions a network of 1,102 lb. (500 kg) satellites beaming solar power collected from panels back to Earth, satisfying all the world's power needs.

After working loyally for NASA for 25 years, he resigned after the solar program at the agency was terminated.  Now he's completed one of the more ambitious transmission experiments in history -- enough to make Nikola Tesla, the man who first envisioned wireless power transmission, proud.

The work still has a long way to go, though.  The transmission only successfully received one one-thousandth of the total power sent, a very low efficiency.  This was primarily because the receivers were so tiny.  Larger receivers, would still be rather inefficient, but could in theory, achieve much higher efficiencies.  Furthermore, the costs were relatively high at $1M USD, but Mr. Mankins believes the costs would decrease as the technology was scaled up.

In total each of the nine solar panels in the transmission assembly sent 2 watts of power.  They were originally equipped to send 20 watts, but the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration would only approve the lower power transmissions.

The encouraging results have reaffirmed Mr. Mankins' commitment to one day bring space-based solar power to the world.  His vision is that one day a fleet of satellites will beam power down to lake-sized receivers.  He enthuses, "The test was in no way fully successful, (but) I think it showed it is possible to transmit solar power quickly and affordably."

Mr. Mankins is president of ARTEMIS Innovation Management Solutions LLC, a startup which provides "strategic planning, technology assessment, and R&D management objectives" to government agencies.  He is also president of the Space Power Association.

The U.S. military is investigating similar plans to use satellite based solar power to beam power to troops on the battlefield.





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RE: efficiency
By omnicronx on 9/15/2008 9:39:34 AM , Rating: 4
I never really totally understood the wireless craze. I for one just can not believe there is not any impact on your health from having 900MHZ to 5.8GHZ transmissions constantly going through us. I know I sound like a crackpot, but I swear to god that the bee population in my area has all but disappeared since wireless came along..


RE: efficiency
RE: efficiency
By masher2 (blog) on 9/15/2008 9:57:22 AM , Rating: 5
> "I know I sound like a crackpot, but I swear to god that the bee population in my area has all but disappeared since wireless came along."

In my area, bees began disappearing only after the local Baskin Robbins closed down. Quite obviously these two events are related. . . clearly this dangerous lack of ice cream parlors is fatal to bees.

When you understand the problem with my statement, you'll understand the problem with yours.


RE: efficiency
By AnnihilatorX on 9/15/2008 10:06:36 AM , Rating: 3
As they state in statistic beginner textbooks as an example of danger of interpreting correlations without critical thinking and investigations.

There was an extremely good correlation in the 60s 70s between TV sets adoption and microwave oven adoption. None of above are causal to each other but rather due to the availability and customer spending power. But if you didn't know abut the title and see 2 graphs plotted on the same axis, you would have thought the 2 data sets are related.


RE: efficiency
By Entropy42 on 9/15/2008 10:19:15 AM , Rating: 2
There's nothing wrong with that statement. You got rid of both a crappy ice cream parlor and bees. I wish that would happen at my house.


RE: efficiency
By dl429 on 9/15/2008 12:53:31 PM , Rating: 2
This guy is like a dog with a frisbee...


RE: efficiency
By omnicronx on 9/15/2008 12:53:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
When you understand the problem with my statement, you'll understand the problem with yours.
Yes I do, clearly bees like soft (aka dairy queen style) ice scream.

The bee thing was a joke by the way, I didn't think everyone was so opinionated on the subject.


RE: efficiency
By DeepBlue1975 on 9/15/2008 1:02:14 PM , Rating: 2
Would vote you up if I could.
Hilarious logic reasoning teaching without excess of sarcasm... Which is different to total lack of sarcasm, but I suppose the dose you used lies well within a non-life threatening treshold :D


RE: efficiency
By Gzus666 on 9/15/2008 10:07:23 AM , Rating: 2
The scary part is this might be the cause. From what I have seen, some people say these radio waves mess with the bee's ability to redirect back to the hive, causing the hive to die. Hopefully they check into this kind of thing, cause I kinda like being able to eat fruits and vegetables...

But, the idea behind the transmission of energy was as tight a wave as possible, going directly from a satellite to a ground station, where there would likely be very little run off, and most likely not many concentrations of bees.

From what I gather, I can't find any evidence that radio waves damage people, but then again, who knows how hard they have really pushed to find out. I don't think the high frequency waves will be an issue though, since 2.4GHZ waves attenuate heavily through living creatures as it is, I'm sure anything in the 5.8GHZ range would disperse quickly just by touching clothing. 900MHZ and similar range waves, that would be interesting to see the research.


RE: efficiency
By menace on 9/15/2008 2:59:41 PM , Rating: 2
For all the myriad of (mostly wasteful) USDA study grants, surely there has been at least one that has studied the effects of various types of electromagnetic fields on bee navigation. If they found anything we would have heard about it.


RE: efficiency
By Gzus666 on 9/15/2008 3:19:42 PM , Rating: 2
Quite possible, but I would still like to see the results, just for curiosity's sake.

http://www.setiai.com/archives/000064.html

Magnetic fields are used for their internal clock. Not saying it for sure causes it, not even saying there is a good chance, just makes you wonder.


RE: efficiency
By masher2 (blog) on 9/15/2008 3:45:43 PM , Rating: 2
Of course, there's a vast difference between magnetic fields and electromagnetic fields. . . which is why shining a light on a compass doesn't cause it to veer wildly.


RE: efficiency
By Gzus666 on 9/15/2008 4:22:55 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, but neither of us research in that field. On top of that, a bee is quite a bit different than a compass, and light is different than radio waves, while less so than the previous comparison. All I desire is to see the research on it, as I am curious, nothing more. I won't claim to know what it does for sure, but they surely need to find out why bees are ditching, cause that is a problem of worldly proportions.


RE: efficiency
By FITCamaro on 9/15/2008 10:20:18 AM , Rating: 3
I'm not a big fan of wireless either for most things. I'm having difficulty getting my 360 set up for wireless right now. I just moved and the router is no longer in the same room as the 360.

While I won't say what's killing off the honeybee, its definitely something that needs to be looked into since most plants, especially crops, rely on bees to pollinate them.

Mankind destroyed by wireless internet. Wouldn't that be a way to go.


RE: efficiency
By AnnihilatorX on 9/15/2008 10:36:16 AM , Rating: 2
To be honest I don't think wireless is the culprit in disappearing bees.

The fact that colony collapse disorder:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_Collapse_Disor...
of bee colonies pretty much around the US and Europe. With such wide geological area affected I don't see any reason to believe the CCD is affected anything by wireless.


RE: efficiency
By masher2 (blog) on 9/15/2008 10:59:18 AM , Rating: 3
Not to mention that CCD is affecting colonies dozens of miles from any cell phone tower, in places where signal strength is essentially nonexistent.


RE: efficiency
By omnicronx on 9/15/2008 1:10:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
However, late in the year 2006 and in early 2007 the rate of attrition was alleged to have reached new proportions, and the term "Colony Collapse Disorder" was proposed to describe this sudden rash of disappearances.[1]
Obviously you make a good point, but the term CCD was only came to light after the situation was worse than it ever was.

And masher, your statement about bees not being near towers is just plain untrue. Farm land is a popular choice for cell phone towers, especially outside of large cities, no obstruction, cheaper to buy. I also get cell phone access far up north, in fact even my cottage which is about 500km from the closest city above 10k has cell phone towers.

Not that I actually believe that this is the reason, but you can not totally discount it. Just the fact that it is happening on a global scale kind of discounts many theories involving parasites or pesticides just because these are not regional events. The way I see it, wireless an cell phone towers causing bee's to die is just as plausible as a bee parasite pandemic, or a pesticide with unknown side effects being used everywhere, (if CCD is happening world around, then the same chemicals would also have to be used world around).


RE: efficiency
By Solandri on 9/15/2008 1:21:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And masher, your statement about bees not being near towers is just plain untrue. Farm land is a popular choice for cell phone towers, especially outside of large cities, no obstruction, cheaper to buy.

Most of the rural U.S. still has no digital cell phone coverage. The digital networks are concentrated around population centers and highways. There are still analog towers as a fallback, but almost nobody uses them nowadays and most phones no longer have analog capability.

http://www.cellphonedigest.net/sprint%20coverage%2...


RE: efficiency
By omnicronx on 9/15/2008 1:52:41 PM , Rating: 1
Thats just sprint..

http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/CoverageLocator...

http://www.cellphonedigest.net/cingular%20coverage...

http://www.cellphonedigest.net/t-mobile%20coverage...

The Verizon digital(not analogue) network is available in what looks to be over 75% of the States..


RE: efficiency
By masher2 (blog) on 9/15/2008 3:51:59 PM , Rating: 3
> "And masher, your statement about bees not being near towers is just plain untrue"

That's not quite what I said. Bees are often near towers. They are often not near them, though. In the West, and in many less developed nations, there are vast tracts of lands which have bee colonies, but no cell phone towers whatsoever.

The leap to suspect an anthropogenic cause is premature. It's far more likely some natural sort of pest or virus. Consider the Chestnut Blight, for instance, that in just a few decades, killed some five billion trees, and nearly extincted the entire genus.


RE: efficiency
By Smoza on 9/15/2008 11:54:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
While I won't say what's killing off the honeybee, its definitely something that needs to be looked into since most plants, especially crops, rely on bees to pollinate them.


I remember an 60 minutes running a story on Honey Bees over here in Australia 12 months or so ago.

The story claimed that the Varroa mite was the cause of dramatic reduction in population across North America, Europe etc.

The story was significant here in Oz, due to the fact that our country was one a very small number of countries that the Varroa mite hadn't infected and Aussie beekeepers were making millions exporting healthy Honey Bees to the US.


RE: efficiency
By omnicronx on 9/15/2008 2:26:34 PM , Rating: 2
Just to clarify, I am much more worried about the fact that brain cancer is now officially the number one cancer killer in children (leukemia was the former), than bee's disappearing. My point was do not know the full extent of what cell phones and wireless do to our brains or to nature for that matter.


RE: efficiency
By omnicronx on 9/15/2008 2:47:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
http://articles.mercola.com/ImageServer/public/200...
ER penetration levels comparing children to adults.. And my mom said sugary cereals were bad...


RE: efficiency
By Gzus666 on 9/15/2008 2:57:57 PM , Rating: 2
I think the part that makes me doubt this, is the portion that says estimation of penetration. I think it would also be beneficial if they did an actual study on the affects of it. I'm kinda on the fence one way or another, as I haven't seen evidence really showing it one way or another.


RE: efficiency
By menace on 9/15/2008 3:46:15 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Just to clarify, I am much more worried about the fact that brain cancer is now officially the number one cancer killer in children (leukemia was the former)

Really? Can you tell us your source?

According to American Cancer Society, leukemia is stil the #1 form of childhood cancer (33%) followed by brain cancer (21%). Incidence of brain cancer in children is 3 in 100,000 children. This compares to brain cancer incidence of 15-20 in 100,000 for whole US population.

You wouldn't expect a child to have lung cancer or colon cancer or breast cancer or prostate cancer or skin cancer. So that makes brain cancer show up high on the list of childhood cancers. The percentage seems large but that is because total incidence of all cancers for children is relatively low (15 in 100,000).

I haven't found evidence of any studies to suggest that the incidence of brain cancer in children has signficantly risen during the wireless device age. But still I would not allow a child under 12 to possess one (or even under 16 for that matter), because of the (ir)responsibility factor and adverse impact on social development.


RE: efficiency
By masher2 (blog) on 9/15/2008 3:56:15 PM , Rating: 3
> "According to American Cancer Society, leukemia is stil the #1 form of childhood cancer (33%) ..."

Wait a minute. . . don't children tend to consume more ice cream also? I smell a definite correlation here between childhold cancer, ice cream parlors, and the disappearance of bees.


RE: efficiency
By mindless1 on 9/16/2008 10:26:34 AM , Rating: 2
... and yet, the same kind of dismissive arguement could be applied to whatever IS the actual cause, so it serves no useful purpose to take such an attitude. Quite a few facts begin as mere speculation, there's no useful purpose in trying to compare something reasonable with something unreasonable.


RE: efficiency
By masher2 (blog) on 9/16/2008 12:22:48 PM , Rating: 2
> "so it serves no useful purpose to take such an attitude"

Of course it does. Any scientist, and even lay people, should always maintain a healthy skepticism. Tremendous harm has come from people gullibly accepting a chance correlation as a casual relationship.


RE: efficiency
By mindless1 on 9/25/2008 2:19:52 PM , Rating: 2
You don't have to be gullible to wait for more information before forming doubt. There's a middle ground where one remains open to further scrutiny instead of clinging to presupposed concepts.


RE: efficiency
By mindless1 on 9/16/2008 10:24:03 AM , Rating: 2
Being able to better communicate will have an adverse impact on social development? Absolutely not, while the day might not be here yet, there will come a day when not having a cell phone is a handicap that seriously impedes social development. That day might already be here.

You might say "oh but I didn't have one when I was a kid", and that wouldn't matter at all because social development is not an absolute, it's about engaging in communication with one's peers in the same way that they do, not how you /did/.


"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007













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