Teen uses Fibonacci sequence to make solar energy breakthrough

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  • #26
DaveC426913
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perhaps the natural form would work for solar panels without working out any probable cause, then he proceeded to build the thing without any logic behind it.
Not sure this is fair. We don't know how much research he did. And his empirical study (in miniature) was there to do a proof of concept.
 
  • #27
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Davec, you're a thinking man's comedian!
 
  • #28
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A ton of people are saying he is on the right path and a bright kid. However he looked at a tree and thought that perhaps the natural form would work for solar panels without working out any probable cause, then he proceeded to build the thing without any logic behind it. Don't all kids think about stuff like this and make these crazy contraptions because it is fun to do? If we encourage this type of thinking I doubt our younger generation will grow up to be intelligent, perhaps artistic.

I have to disagree with this...

Sure, I believe this is agenda-driven propaganda at it's best/worst. However, I hope that more kids would follow this...

He applied the scientific method at it's core. He made an observation, asked questions, created a hypothesis, tested the hypothesis, and analyzed the conclusion. Do I think more work could be done? Sure. I agree more effort could be put in for 99.99999% of all the journal articles I read with 3-4 PhDs in the byline.

This kid is also getting off his butt and doing something. What has he learned? Heck, I don't think I even knew who Fibonacci was until high school senior year. He probably understands a little more math, a little more about solar energy, and probably a little more about basic electronics. Good for him I say! Regardless of what he did or did not accomplish.

Yes, it was curiosity. The heart of science is curiosity.

Second, people are making the judgment that this is probably not working because of their inability to "guess at it". That in itself is a violation of scientific inquiry. You can question the experiment, put doubt in the results, but it's elistist to discount what he did.

Third, the media does hype these things up, but at the same time, they enthrall and excite readers. They inspire other kids to make the same kind of observations. They make the everyday average joe say, "Hey, I too can make a difference. There are still things that don't require millions of dollar to do, I just have to be smart and I just have to ask the right questions."

Finally, if anything hurts the STEM fields more, it's the naysayers. It's the people who discourage young people from thinking out of the box. It's the people who trivialize innocent science. This kid, to me, is a diamond in the rough. He needs to be mentored, nurtured, and encouraged and one day he may develop very culture/world changing technology (if he hasn't already).

A comment about the article, it does seem plausible to me that he found a way to optimize solar array configuration. Is it a monumental leap? Probably not. Incremental contribution, possibly. It's this kind of out of the box thinking that advances science. Many times in science, he find nature had a solution all along.

Just IMHO.
 
  • #29
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I may be wrong here but if the 2 arrays in the picture are the controls (of each other) surely the tree with 17 panels and the standard arrangement with 10 (41% less) isn’t a really fair assessment
 
  • #30
Hurkyl
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I have to disagree with this...
I think you're attacking a strawman. The type of thinking we need to discourage is, e.g., that a modicum of effort is all you need to do to get definitive answers.

I don't think anybody* in the world is criticizing the kid -- he's probably the worst victim of the media's misbehavior.


*: I'm exaggerating, of course. There are probably a few counterexamples to my claim
 
  • #31
DaveC426913
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I may be wrong here but if the 2 arrays in the picture are the controls (of each other) surely the tree with 17 panels and the standard arrangement with 10 (41% less) isn’t a really fair assessment
He would merely have to apply a 41% conversion factor. For all we know he is. Probably not fair to judge him on his experimental procedure without knowing what it actually is.
 
  • #32
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The type of thinking we need to discourage is, e.g., that a modicum of effort is all you need to do to get definitive answers.


Hopefully, you're not implying that's what I'm doing. I think there's a very big difference between saying, "Good job kid, and smart thinking" to a 13-year-old and handing out patents left and right like our government. However, just because someone spends a modicum of effort, doesn't mean there isn't a definitive answer. That article certainly was a far cry from a peer reviewed journal article, so let's not be hasty to discount his contribution.


I don't think anybody* in the world is criticizing the kid -- he's probably the worst victim of the media's misbehavior.

Well, this is the part I took exception with the most.
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LostConjugate said:
If we encourage this type of thinking I doubt our younger generation will grow up to be intelligent, perhaps artistic.

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*: I'm exaggerating, of course. There are probably a few counterexamples to my claim

There's always a counter-example to every claim. Being skeptical is important.
 
  • #33
Dale
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I think that the kid did a good science fair project type experiment. There was not a lot of heavy theoretical analysis, but that kind of analysis is not expected for a science fair level project. He did indeed prove that his specific tree-inspired arrangement collected more sunlight than the same number of panels in a specific roof-top arrangement.

I think that the only problem was that someone over-generalized the results and hyped it beyond reason. I don't know if the over-generalization was from the kid himself or from others, but either way he did an excellent science fair project.
 
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  • #34
Drakkith
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Agreed DaleSpam. The kid did a great job from what I can tell, even if he was incorrect.
 
  • #35
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I think that the kid did a good science fair project type experiment. There was not a lot of heavy theoretical analysis, but that kind of analysis is not expected for a science fair level project. He did indeed prove that his specific tree-inspired arrangement collected more sunlight than the same number of panels in a specific roof-top arrangement.

Actually, no he didn't. He was measuring the open circuit voltage generated by the solar cells, which has just about no relation to their power capability. The correct way to measure it would be to apply a load to the output and measure the power, and if that was done, I would be willing to bet that the roof-top arrangement would prove superior.
 
  • #36
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That's fine for a science fair. Certainly better than a baking soda volcano. At least he made a hypothesis, devised an experiment, and made measurements to test it. It doesn't have to be more than that.
 
  • #37
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However, just because someone spends a modicum of effort, doesn't mean there isn't a definitive answer.
Er, sure, but so what? That someone spends a modicum of effort does mean we cannot label his results as definitive.


Well, this is the part I took exception with the most.
That's fine, but I'm taking exception to other parts of your post, such as where you seem to be defending -- even praising -- the way the media handles things like this.

I think you have a pet issue that you are overly focused on, leaving you blind to the significant harm that the media has done both to this kid and possibly to others.
 
  • #38
baywax
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Yes, which can be done with any configuration just by spacing them out more - and taking up more room. That is not an advantage specific to this design.

I thought this design would take up more vertical space and let more sun hit the ground.
 

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