The History of Solar Energy in .NET framework

Generate DataMatrix in .NET framework The History of Solar Energy

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The History of Solar Energy
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If you believe the history of solar energy begins in the 1970s, around the time President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels in the White House (see Figure 1-1), you have underestimated the sun s history by a few billion years. In fact, life on Earth owes a great debt, if not its total existence, to solar energy. The sun is responsible for all life on our planet, including us humans. Fact is, the sun provides more energy in one hour than all of humanity uses, in all forms, in a single year.
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Sunlight and Life on Earth
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Life is believed to have existed as early as 3.5 billion years ago. A singlecelled, blue-green cyanobacteria, shown in Figures 1-2 and 1-3, flourished in the sunlit parts of the oceans. Trillions of these microscopic organisms have transformed our planet. They capture and use the energy from the sun to create food, and they release oxygen as a waste product. For millions of years, cyanobacteria has changed the Earth s atmosphere from CO2 to oxygen. Scientists believe that around 3 billion years ago, autotrophic animals (such as bacteria) diversified from earlier species. These autotrophs were capable of synthesizing energy from complex inorganic material that is, via the sun, photosynthesis, and other inorganic elements. These living organisms were able to tap into a completely new energy resource that was virtually inexhaustible: the sun. Autotrophs, like cyanobacteria, produced substances required for human life. These bacteria fed on hydrogen sulfide, ammonium, and iron, and they produced oxygen.
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FIGURE 1-1 President Jimmy Carter and the installation of solar panels on the White House
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During the course of millions of years, autotrophs created an environment that allowed the evolution of life as we know it today. Sunlight allowed these organisms to convert inorganic materials into useful resources for life. Without the sun, it is almost certain that no life would have developed on our planet. Autotrophs ruled the world until they created so much organic waste that they polluted their own environment, so that only limited amounts of autotrophs could survive. The extinction of the autotrophs led to one of the Earth s many mass extinctions. The organisms died en masse, creating organic material that would be stored near the Earth s surface. During the last 500 million years or so, five mass extinctions have occurred on our planet, as shown in Figure 1-4. The last is perhaps the best known to most of us extinction of the dinosaurs. Each mass extinction killed much of the organic life on the Earth, including animals, plants, and bacteria. The organic material was buried and became the stored solar energy we know and use today in the form of oil, coal, and natural gas. All the fossil fuels we know, and abuse, today were once organic material that used sunlight to become inorganic. Without the sun, we would have no supplies of fossil fuels.
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The History of Solar Energy
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White House Solar Panels
President Carter added solar panels on the roof of the White House, but President Ronald Reagan removed those same panels later. The panels did not go to waste, however, and were moved to Unity College in Unity, Maine, as shown here.
White House solar panels installed at Unity College
http://www.unity.edu/uploadedImages/wwwunityedu/EnvResources/Sustainability/ image004.jpg
FIGURE 1-2 Oxygen-producing cyanobacteria
http://gallery.usgs.gov/images/12_07_2009/s85Are1QPk_12_07_2009/medium/ Microcystis_in_Sytox_Green--Barry_Rosen.jpg
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FIGURE 1-3 Waterborne cyanobacteria
http://ks.water.usgs.gov/studies/qw/cyanobacteria/binder-lake-ia.jpg
FIGURE 1-4 Five mass extinction events
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Extinction_intensity.svg
The Human Factor
Humans have been spectators for only a brief instant in the world s history. Homo sapiens have been walking the Earth for approximately 200,000 years. For most of this time, humans were hunter-gatherers, surviving by
The History of Solar Energy hunting animals and gathering and eating foods that were nourished by none other than sunlight. About 10,000 years ago, humans began to employ agriculture to grow their own food. During this period, human food provided by hunting and gathering was supplemented with crops grown by early humans. By around 10,000 B.C., the world s total population is believed to have grown to 4 to 6 million people. Figure 1-5 shows one estimate of the growth of human population through history. Fast-forward to 14th-century Europe, when overcrowding and poor living conditions spread the Black Death, or bubonic plague, which reduced the world s population by about 100 million people. By 1500, the world s population had reached almost 500 million. And by the 1800s, the world s population had reached approximately 1 billion. Then, as now, people were supported by sunlight. Solar energy was used as heat and light. Most jobs and tasks were performed during daylight hours. Early to bed, early to rise was a mandate, prescribed by the natural light. The food grown was supported by simple animal fertilizers, watered by the rain and crude irrigation, and nourished by sunlight (Figure 1-6). Limited areas on the planet could support a narrow quantity and type of crops, subject to minor climate variations.
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