Solar-panel “trees” really are inferior (or: “In which hopelessly inept journalists reduce me to having to debunk a school science project”)

This article is reproduced from here. For some reason it has been taken down from his blog… I have the intention of writing this very post on this blog, and I may well still do so, but for now here is someone else’s…

Just to be clear, this is not a scam! It is, however, a really good example of really sloppy journalism.

Solar breakthrough?

Some poor 13-year-old kid is all over the news as having made a “solar breakthrough”. The news is to blame. All the usual suspects — popular environment blogs, tech magazines — blindly parrot the words of this very misinformed (not to blame him, he’s an unguided 13 year old) kid.

Usual suspects:

This is his writeup:

[AMNH] The Secret of the Fibonacci Sequence in Trees

Essential summary:

  • He’s comparing arrangements of solar panels to maximize total electricity output
  • One is a conventional, flat, 45°-tilted (roughly latitude), south-facing array
  • The other is an oddly-arranged “tree” with panels facing all directions: up, down, towards a wall… (some Fibonacci mysticism involved here)
  • (Writeup has photos of both setups, and graphs of data)
  • Both experiments have equal numbers and types of solar cells
  • He measures the (open circuit) output voltage over the cells connected in series
  • He thinks the “tree” is superior (generates more electricity) than the optimal flat array

This is, I’m sad to say, clear nonsense. I’ll take this in two parts: one, why his experiment is, unfortunately, completely broken (sorry again). Two, why the imagined result is impossible nonsense.

Broken Experiment

Most importantly, by mistake he did not measure power outputs from the solar cells. Instead he measured voltage, without a load attached (“open circuit”). They are barely related — in solar cells, voltage is actually almost a constant, independent of power.

The actual power delivered by a solar cell is not linearly related to the open-circuit voltage; actually, as a semiconductor, it has a horribly nonlinear relationship. Here’s the current-voltage (I-V) curve:

[National Instruments] Photovoltaic Cell I-V Characterization Theory

VOC denotes the “open circuit” voltage: when there is no load attached, and no current flows (I = 0). Power goes as V*I; a real solar system will maximize efficiency, by working at the point on the I-V curve which maximies power (PMAX).

The kid is measuring VOC. As it happens, this is practically independent of power output! Here’s how the I-V curve changes with incident solar power (“irradiance”, areal density of radiation in [W/m2]). As this solar module datasheet shows, VOC is almost a constant, regardless of incident light!

[BP Solar] 3 series solar panels Polycrystalline (Data sheet)

In this module, VOC stays close to 35 V, over a 5-fold range in irradiance. Whether the incident light is bright or dim, the open-circuit voltage is the same.

Of course, PMAX (not shown) goes up roughly linearly with solar input. You must expect this: when you have 5x more solar power input, you have ~5x more electric output. But in Power = Voltage * Current, it is current, not voltage, which increases. (For those who are familar wiht physics, this is reasonable because: twice the brightness doesn’t mean twice as much energy per photon, but twice the number of photons. The voltage reflects the energy of individual excited electrons: an electron with 1 eV energy can travel against a 1 V potential difference. The maximum current depends on the number of such excited electrons. More light means more excited electrons, but each with the same energy.)

End result: measuring the solar cells’ VOC over time, and adding them up, is garbage data, and has nothing to do with energy production.

UNREASONABLE THEORY

As for why the result is impossible. I’m not sure I understand the confusion by which people think there could be some advantage, to orienting panels at sub-optimal angles. That somehow combining sub-optimal panels, together, makes them generate more energy in the net. Here’s my argument, in case it helps clear up misconceptions.

Take an collection of solar panels (indexed by ‘i’). Their power output is the some of their individual outputs. So, their total energy output (power integrated over time) is also the sum of their total energy outputs.

Ptot = ? Pi

? Ptot dt = ? (? Pi) dt = ? (? Pi dt)

Etot = ? Ei

Suppose some orientation of a solar panel, ‘OPT’ (maybe south-facing, latitude-tilted), is superior to some others, index them by ‘i’ (say, facing north, down, up, towards a wall…) Then adding together ‘N’ such panels, in any order, is strictly worse than a uniform array where all panels are at their individually-optimal angles:

Ei < EOPT (for i <- 1..N)

? Ei < N * EOPT

So: if the individual angles in the “tree” are worse then the 45°-tilted south-facing panels in the flat array (they obviously are), so is their combination.

(Implicit assumption: that the panels are non-interacting, e.g. they do not obstruct (shade) each other, or heat each other, etc. The panels in the “tree” do actually shade themselves, which makes them strictly worse and does not change this result).

OPEN QUESTIONS

How did this confused science project became international news?

34 Comments

  1. Maria:

    Why was the original post removed? Is it factual? Why is the press still clamoring that the kid is a genius and this is a breakthrough?

    Is this true or false?

  2. Jon:

    You will have to ask the original poster why they took it down. I don’t know.
    Because the press are stupid and only interested in the story, not its accuracy. It is such a great story, why check if it is correct? I see examples of this all the time.
    Is what true or false? That he has invented something which out performs a conventional set up? Absolutely, completely, obviously, totally and utterly not.

  3. Rob:

    Has the writer of this blog actually tested this theory to debunk the story, or is all just a hypothesis? Just because something doesn’t make sense does not mean it could not be the truth.

  4. Jon:

    Here we go again, asking the impossible, asking me to prove a negative.
    This is not how science works, it is not really possible to prove a negative.
    Have I proven the moon is not made of marmalade? No, I don’t need to. You need to prove it is made of marmalade, not me prove it is not.
    Has the writer of the original article, the kid, proven that panels pointing in random directions work better than panels pointing at the sun? No he did not. What is more is this article, the one above, argues really well that chances are the 13 y/o kid is wrong. That should be it, end of discussion, unless you come up with some decent evidence to the contrary.

  5. Ron:

    lol pwned

  6. Zachariah Wiedeman:

    Better explanation here:
    http://optimiskeptic.com/2011/08/21/this-is-where-bad-science-starts/

  7. Carlos:

    well stated

  8. sebastian:

    i ve tried to explain in a simple way how and why one can get to these misleading idan is doing results -

    http://write.less.dk/?p=321

    agreeing with others before me that Aidan is doing great stuff, although erring.
    the (lack of) quality of science journalism in our usual suspect media (and on the side of the museum) is scary though.

  9. Shaggy:

    Wow. How sad for you, to miss the point entirely. Seriously, you went through the trouble of using a power I-V curve to disprove a 13 year old kid’s experiment. What were you doing at 13? Many teenagers I work with are playing video games and hanging out at the local mall, not trying to learn about solar energy, math, materials science, and listening to nature. So his design may need to be tuned for scientific understanding. Kids this age should be encouraged, mentored, and given access to opportunity – not exposed to arrogant criticism by adults who act they invented physics. If your glass were half full instead of half empty, I’d hope you’d use its contents to take some antidepressants and lighten up.

  10. Jon:

    Shaggy,
    Sorry mate, but it is you that is missing the point.
    What I was doing at 13 is irrelevant. The kid’s science is crappy but this is not his fault and no one is saying that the kid is anything less than awesome and no one is attacking him.
    What is retarded is the so called journalists, especially the science and technology journalists, who are so shit at their jobs that they just printed this obvious nonsense with no thought or critique. These people need to be fired, nothing less.

  11. Torben:

    The kids efforts – hmm, a broken experiment, but a good try from a 13 year old, I’d say.

    Someone should indeed have cought the error (at some point) and guided him in a new direction, e.g. on the power or energy observations instead. On the other hand – all the “interest” will hopefully make him try even harder next time.

    His observations on trees and arrangement of brances and leaves are great and should earn him merits in biology lessens – even if he got a little help from his friends (parents, older siblings, google) on the Fibbunacci stuff.

    And we are lucky that we got to see the extreme level of ignorance that is prevalent in the news press around the world. It got across the entire world (I live in Denmark) before someone brave enough woke up to say – this experiment is totally broken.

    Most stuff on the air is simply light entertainment these days.

  12. Jon T:

    I have seen a lot of misstatements about science above and in society at large. In my opinion, science is about raising questions, creating theorems, and devising experiments that can be used to test those theorems. This appears to be exactly what young Aden did. Yes, he made a mistake in measuring only the open circuit voltage but this does not imply that his science is flawed. Your “rebuttal” should make Aristotle proud.

    It is a valid question to ask why it is that trees, which are, in essence, solar collectors are arranged the way they are. Like a solar panel devised to generate electricity, a tree depends upon arranging its leaves in such a way that it can optimise exposure to capture photons without compromising its basic structure. It also has to arrange a vascular structure that can be used to transport water up to the leaves and sugars back. Both of these things do indeed rely upon a distribution derived from the Fibonacci sequence and there is no inherent mysticism involved of any kind.

    Your assumption here is that the solar panel can be placed at an optimal position for the entire day even though, in the less than twelve hours that pass between sunrise and sunset, the sun is going to pass in a relative rotation of nearly 180 degrees. The only way to accommodate this is to place the flat panel on a two axis tracker which will allow that angle to be adjusted dynamically throughout the day. A tree does not have this luxury and, to be honest, we don’t either if we hope to make solar power truly ubiquitous.

    A true scientific refutation would involve duplicating the experiment while improving the obvious flaw in measurement. I don’t see that you have made any effort to do so in your supposed refutation. I do not consider copies of IV curves derived from National Semiconductors or BP solar to be valid EXPERIMENTAL evidence and you shouldn’t either.

  13. mobihci:

    trees go up because they cannot do what we can – cut down other trees that block the sunlight.

    a powered, directed panel will give the best results as expected. within 1% of max or so.

    a fixed flat panel will give 90% of so of max within 120 deg of its arc, so the loses are minimal even at high angles of incidence as can be seen here-

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SolarPanel_alignment.png

  14. Jon:

    mobihci –
    Thanks for your comment… Erm, yea, kinda. The false assumption, as I see it, is that trees grow to maximize their leafs’ exposure. I mean, clearly they don’t. If they did then they would point all their leaves in the best direction all of the time, and they don’t. They do enough to survive, not to max out. A much better explanation is here – http://optimiskeptic.com/2011/08/21/this-is-where-bad-science-starts/

  15. mobihci:

    yes its a survival thing. they grow tall to get out of the shade of the other trees. eg old established trees which survive after a fire. there will still be a large mount of regrowth under their shade, but the amount of shoots that end up large enough to survive first must have enough water, but also enough sun. the growth pattern is almost straight up with very few leaves. they do this to capture enough sun and they compete with the other shoots around them. the winner is usually the one most distant from the larger trees due to water availability and sunlight.

    compare that with the growth pattern of a similar tree that has no shade, it will put down more/deeper roots and grow more branched out to maximise sun. the leaves will be from top to bottom.

    the growth pattern has developed over the evolution of plantlife and does maximise the chances of receiving sunlight given the possible conditions it could grow in, but each tree has its own set of local circumstances that can alter this a bit.

    saying that, we dont have to worry about shade, because we are smart enough to move things out of the shade or get rid of it all together, so the average condition that the tree strives for is very sub average for us. we can do a lot better.

    the way that kid setup the panels is just pointless, the panels on some of the sides are not facing the sun at any time. so lets consider with each panel facing up, this would end up no different than a flat panel other than you risk creating shadows from higher panels etc. lets say you point them out like a cone shape, then the amount of direct sun reduce dramatically, but the amount within the 10% of max will be about the same, but only if you point the whole thing north, or south depending on where you are on the globe. there would be considerable loses from the point as well, like a big hole in the middle of a flat panel.

    the argument about using voltage as a measure is of course a big problem for the kid. the power will obviously be a lot different and will point to the obvious problems with the arrangement.

    of course you would think these journalists would pick up these sort of make or break issues up.

  16. Night Rider:

    “What is more is this article, the one above, argues really well that chances are the 13 y/o kid is wrong. That should be it, end of discussion, unless you come up with some decent evidence to the contrary.”

    Chances are? Really? You spend all this time ‘proving’ the kid is wrong, but still have to qualify your statement? Given the current state of physics (where we are now having to look at he possibility that the speed of light is not an absolute boundary) and given all the ‘absolutes’ that science has ‘proven’ over the centuries that have turned out to be, ummm, WRONG, the fact that you make these statements as absolutes is incredibly amusing. Not to mention the fact that you IGNORED in your whole ‘proof’, is that the kid was addressing trees and whether their sequence of leaves and their use of the Fibonacci sequence maximizes their use of sunlight to manufacture chlorophyll. IT WASN’T TO MAXIMIZE SOLAR PANELS EFFICIENCY!! He was trying to prove the efficiency of the trees using solar panels, not vice versa. Even the other article you reference (http://optimiskeptic.com/2011/08/21/this-is-where-bad-science-starts/) uses terms like ‘generally’ and still does not address the primary focus of Aidan’s article and experiment, which is that a tree’s pattern and array of leaves is a more functional set-up than a standard photo-voltaic array of panels. JFC, taking a 13 year old kid to task over his scientific shortcomings is pitiful. And if you look at the article as posted by the AMNH, it is what the kid submitted. They are showing what he did to win the award. FFS, nowhere does it state he has made a breakthrough in solar panel array. Most of science and the breakthroughs that have been made come from trial and error, DOING THINGS, not scribbling arcane theorems on white boards that ‘prove’ this or ‘disprove’ that. Get over yourself.

  17. Jon:

    Night Rider,
    The point is not about Adrian and whether or not what he did was great, it was great. Great and totally obviously wrong. The point is that hundreds of so called technical writers at science blogs and magazines reprinting complete twaddle verbatim with no critical analysis. These people are idiots. They have shown themselves to be grossly incompetent.
    If Adrian was trying to show something about trees by using solar panels, and not trying to use the ‘design’of trees to maxamise solar collectors then this is even worse, because it is the latter which was reported (for what it is worth, I also think he was trying to do the latter).
    I am really interested to learn about these examples of proven absolute science (science is never absolute, just saying) that was later shown to be wrong.
    And trust me, nothing travels faster than light, you won’t find any scientist that thinks it does.

  18. Night Rider:

    Dogma – A principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.

    Jon: “I am really interested to learn about these examples of proven absolute science (science is never absolute, just saying) that was later shown to be wrong.”

    Accepted scientific dogma at one time was that the earth was absolutely the center of the universe, Also at one time it was accepted that the earth was flat. There are many more examples of ‘scientific absolutes’ throughout history, that were eventually proven wrong, because of advancements in technology. So until they were able to be dis-proven, they were accepted as scientific absolutes. The whole basis of modern physics is based on many things accepted as absolute truths, yet much of it is based on “if/then”. Ever actually experienced a black hole? Know anyone who has? I haven’t and I don’t. Yet it has become a scientific absolute they exist. Why? Because it fits in the current model of accepted physics. Scientists can be as entrenched in their dogma as any religion, if not more so.

    Jon: “And trust me, nothing travels faster than light, you won’t find any scientist that thinks it does.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/18/science-neutrinos-light-idUSL5E7MI2D120111118

    Looks like there are a number of scientists who are thinking that you’re ABSOLUTE statement there might not be quite so absolute.

    Keep on with the “science is never absolute/nothing travels faster than light” thing there Jon. It really increases your credibility. All you need to add to top it off is “Because I said so, that’s why!”

  19. Jon:

    Night Rider,
    Jeez this gets so tedious… and so off topic…
    Have you actually read that Reuters article? Can you name me one scientist who said that the earth was flat or the center of the universe? And even if you could (and you can’t)… So. Fucking. What? What does any of the have to do with Adrian’s solar panels?
    You trying to tell me that a solar module facing away from the sun will perform better than one facing towards the sun, or that it even may perform better.
    Are you one of those anti-science nut jobs that likes to use all the benifits of science to argue that it is wrong? This is not about science being wrong or right or having ot not having all the answers to everything, this is about idiot science journalists parroting things which are so obviously incorrect.

  20. Nathan:

    The kid may be wrong but the concept is sound. Obviously, as has been aptly pointed out, panels arranged sub-optimally are going under-perform relative to their optimally configured peers, per square meter of solar panel, but not per square meter of installed area. Let’s say I live in American suburbia on a standard 0.15 acre lot. After installing my house, deck, and concrete there is precious little space left for solar panels – aside from my roof. This is why the tree concept might work. Sure the panels are facing every which way and there is a lot of shading, but if the solar panel is designed like a tree then you likely have installed a couple hundred square meters of solar collecting panels in a nine square meter piece of ground. Only a fraction of them will be collecting at maximum efficiency at any given time, but together the configuration will probably gather a lot more electricity than a nice square meter array at optimal angle. The panel production cost might be reduced since you would not need or want to make the panels rigid. Ideally you would want solar leaves that could flutter in the wind. Clearly there would need to be a way to make solar collection cells cheaply, and then manufacturing methods which allowed us to economically construct durable “solar trees”. There is not research behind what I have said here, just me reasoning things through. A heat sink dissipates maximum heat in a minimum footprint by using fins. Clearly a flat surface not in close alignment with other surfaces is going to more effectively dissipate heat per unit area, but the area of a flat surface is limited to the available real estate. Same with the solar panel. The flat, sun facing configuration has maximum efficiency per unit area, but it has limited area. A tree based design maximizes energy collection per installed area, not per panel area. In a dense urban environment where real estate is expensive and limited, a tree design might prove more cost effective.

  21. Solar Design by Fibonacci Numbers and Ancient Origami Constructs | Future City Solar:

    [...] Seventh grader discovers more efficient solar design First, Aidan, a 13 year old seventh grader from New York entered a contest sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History in an attempt to win the “Young Naturalist Award.” On a winter hiking trip in the Catskill Mountains of New York, he noticed that contrary to his belief that tree branches were nothing more than a tangled mess, he saw a pattern in the way tree branches grew. His research project studied the complex design of trees and how they “are more efficient than humans in collecting solar energy.” The more that young Aiden learned and experimented, the more he thought about creating a new way to arrange solar panels. In trying to understand the spiral nature of branches on different types of trees (i.e. oak vs. maple) Aiden concluded that the pattern of the branches followed the “Fibonacci” sequence as did many other forms of nature. He states: “I designed and built my own test model, copying the Fibonacci pattern of an oak tree……In place of leaves, I used PV solar cells hooked up in a series that produced up to 1/2 volt, so the peak output of the model was 5 volts. The entire design copied the pattern of an oak tree as closely as possible.” Aiden placed his solar Fibonacci tree model and a linear array in his backyard for two months. He found that the Fibonacci tree array captured 20% more electricity and collected 2 1/2 times more hours of sunlight during the day. Here is a more detailed review of the project. You can read more about Aidan’s project here as well. However, this claim of young Aiden has not been without controversy as it flies in the face, as some people believe, of common sense. For a review of the controversy surrounding Aiden’s project see this link. [...]

  22. mobihci:

    Nathan,

    there is just no way to receive more than a flat panel pointed to the arc of the sun. of course following the sun is best, but a bit more expensive. a tree pattern will NOT improve on this situation. of course you could make your fixed panels fit the curve of the earth, but.. well lets just say flat is close enough.

    its all about shade and making sure there is none over your panel, adding any possibility of more shade will just be a negative.

    how on earth can more panels receive more light when the light itself does not exist? unless you believe that its ok to put ‘some’ in the the shade ‘some’ of the time, but how is this different than placing that same amount of extra panels (flat) in a shaded area? this is a pointless exercise as not only does it not improve the situation, the tree pattern will CAUSE extra shading.

  23. Harry:

    One can only conclude from the above discussion that there are lots of dopey uneducated Americans about.
    The whole tree gadget is a stupid idea.
    The kid really should be exterminated to prevent his genes from spreading.

  24. Trader4:

    The sad thing reading this thread is how
    little grounding in basic science many of
    you here have. The kid does an experiment
    where he measures open circuit VOLTAGE and
    uses it to claim that the tree array produces
    more POWER than an equivalent array pointed
    south. Unfortunately the media are just as
    ignorant. Anyone who passed high school
    physics should have easily spotted the many
    things wrong here. And then so many of you
    continue to put credence in what the kid did,
    while asking others to absolutely prove that
    it’s junk science? Good grief!

    Also, consider this. There are millions of
    solar arrays installed today. There are
    calculators on the web that will tell you the
    best angle for a fixed array anywhere in the world.
    None of those calculators will tell you that
    you can get more power by pointing a fixed
    array in any other direction. Here in the
    USA, the optimal direction is facing south.
    Arrays have certainly been installed where
    all or part is facing in a less optimal direction
    because it’s impossible to face it the optimal
    way. If those arrays produced more power, you
    think by now no company that is installing them,
    either residentially or commercially, would have
    noticed? And if you can’t get more power by
    installing 2 oe 3 panels at various differing
    directions that offer more output, then extending
    it to 10, 30 or 100 panels isn’t going to work
    either. It doesn’t get more basic than that.

  25. Dornier Pfeil:

    Jon,

    I know this is old news by now, but you might introduce NightRider to Isaac Asimov’s essay “The Relativity of Wrong”.

    http://www.hermiene.net/essays-trans/relativity_of_wrong.html

    It is one of the best answers ever written to the “science is never right” ignorance spewed by the no nothing types NightRider is exemplifying.

    Assuming of course he left you an accurate email addie.

    Sincerely,
    Dorn

  26. Dan:

    I bet if you turned them both upside down his tree would produce more power.

  27. Henry:

    Such vitriol. The news about this reported on the fact of a seventh-grade student winning a Young Naturalist award from the American Museum of Natural History, & the nature of the research meriting the award. This award is given not on the basis of scientific breakthroughs, but of excellence in scientific *thinking*. The fact that his research garnered rebuttal from practicing scientists is testament to the quality of his scientific thinking. His conclusion was wrong, because he was testing the wrong variable. So, one can celebrate his experiment & be glad for the opportunity to see scientific practice at work in the mass media–rare indeed–or carp & fulminate. The sort of response found in this blog post & so many comments around the web look utterly foolish & strident when set beside the AMNH follow-up to the media attention to Aidan’s essay & award. Read it for yourselves:

    ‘The seventh grader, who came up with a compelling question, designed an experiment, and gathered data for his investigation, fully met the criteria of the Young Naturalist Awards, a research-based competition that encourages students to develop their research skills by engaging in scientific investigations. But he had also made a mistake well-known to veteran scientists: he tested the wrong variable—in this case, voltage instead of power generated. A flawed experimental design, no matter how carefully executed, yields data that cannot be used to evaluate the hypothesis.

    ‘Although the contest judges did not recognize the error, Aidan’s interesting results—and his clear description of his methodology in his essay—led an electrical engineer to pinpoint the mistake in another process familiar to researchers: community review. In this case, Aidan’s community happened to include not just other seventh-graders but professional researchers, who were able to accurately assess his project—in itself, a credit to Aidan’s writing skills and clearly described methodology.’

    http://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blogs/news/valuable-lesson-about-variables

  28. Has A Clue:

    Oh well, it’s a shame that none of the posters here appear to have made it past the 7th grade. In 8th grade I learned Ohm’s Law: E = I*R. Ergo, I = E/R. Go look it up. Electromotive Force is measured in Volts. A single volt is defined as the difference in electric potential across a wire when an electric current of one ampere dissipates one watt of power. Power is a function of and directly proportional to current. That’s four function arithmetic. Not physics. QED.

    Fortunately, some brighter, more practical minds at MIT decided to find out if the kid was correct and verified that he was: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/three-dimensional-solar-energy-0327.html

    Note, however, that they failed to give any credit to Aiden.

  29. Logan:

    As an electrical engineer (so presumably I have better than an 8th grade level of knowledge about electricity), I’ll just point out that semi-conductors do not fit nicely into your Ohm’s Law approach, Has a Clue. Check out wikipedia’s article on the topic (specifically diodes) and you’ll get some idea of this.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diode

    Also, what MIT is doing is maximizing output for a given base area and. While output per unit base area for the entire array is being increased, the output of the each individual cell composing the array isn’t even close to being maximized. A latitude tilted array might have more output, but it takes up a much larger area. (Also worth noting is that 3D arrays are for more expensive per watt to purchase). Finally, in the MIT array the cells are likely linked in a parallel configuration. In Aiden’s they were linked in series. What this means is that if one array is being blocked in Aiden’s, which would have almost always been the case given his array choice, the current output of the entire array would have been decreased (Which as you so astutely noted would decrease the power output). In a parallel array this isn’t really an issue as the cells are operating independently of each other. As he was just reading the open circuit voltage, he would not have noticed this effect. I could go on even more, but I fear this post is already far too long.

    Solar is an exciting area of research and we’ll hopefully continue to see improvements in the vein of MIT’s 3D arrays, maybe by individuals such as Aiden (once he’s had a little more education to enhance his already formidable creativity).

  30. Jim:

    Exactly..The kid got it wrong but you need to get a new hobby.
    Where is the praise for him having a go?

    And your own website home page tells enough when you praise CFL, this explains why bloggers should be ignored regularly.

    CFL contain Mercury and have to be recycled as such not go to landfill as enough of them say 10-20 will contaminate water source, LED is the lightbulb, so maybe you need to research that a bit more or just get a girlfriend.

  31. Jim:

    Thanks for all the comments that support this 13yr old having a go…

  32. James Wood:

    Hi Jim et al thanks for all the support, I too am a 12 year old inventor (well I was but it is all a bit confusing) I was working on an similar experiment in 1980 that proved that if I flip the panel away from the sun its output increases, but when I read this I realised I’d made a mistake in my calculations. Fortunately I hadn’t published my article because I got too bogged down with my time machine. Anyway must go I’ve just found out that I’ve got to go back and warn Maggie the Argies will be invading some island called the Falklands.

  33. Jamie:

    Hey, I’m one of those people who’s wandering the net looking at ways to be a bit more eco-friendly and cut the bills. Having said that I would like to thank you for this article. It has most likely saved me time and money, and it came up when I googled solar breakthrough, right after an article about the 13 year old. I appreciate the realistic approach and you sharing with us non-sciency types who wouldn’t ever get why it wouldn’t work that it most likely wont.

    Seemed like you were getting a lot of flack for a non-existent attack on the kid instead of thanks for sharing your knowledge. So kudos for putting it out there.

  34. Tamara:

    From commenter Has A Clue: “Fortunately, some brighter, more practical minds at MIT decided to find out if the kid was correct and verified that he was: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/three-dimensional-solar-energy-0327.html

    Note, however, that they failed to give any credit to Aiden.”

    Thank god… I was very frustrated to find no research done on this, and am glad to find not only the kid was right but that SOMEONE is working on it. I was looking up the info to figure out how to build my own based on the kid’s idea. These debunkers never bothered to actually try to reproduce the experiment themselves as far as I can tell, just spout “facts”. Well, in the past scientists did the same thing when new ideas/ invention/ theories were brought up – claimed them impossible based on the knowledge at the time. FURTHER EXPERIMENTATION (not mere words) proved the new theories right or wrong. I hadn’t read of any further experimentation until now, but alot of spouting off with no proof.

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