Monday, 8 August 2011

Worship the sun!!!

Myan shield showing the sun

From the Aztecs, Myans, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and beyond the sun is a commonality of worship for many different civilizations.  Even Christianity and other religions today has their calendar based on the solar calendar or oppositely the lunar calendar with Christmas happening on the shortest (or longest sun day) with other Christian event happening near other times of the solar calendar.   The December 25 date may have been selected by the church in Rome in the early 4th century. At this time, a church calendar was created and other holidays were also placed on solar dates.  So in essence we still are sun worshipers regardless of whether you think so or not.

Why worship the sun?  Last time I checked most dieties did not bring food nor can I see these dieties.  The sun I can see bringing both food and energy.  The surface tension of both plants and in technololgy have changed in order to harvest this great resource.  Plants do this by maintaining a high water repellency or superhydrophobicity on their leaves.  Water droplets as I mentioned before are spherical (also in space) due to their high surface tension.  Depending on the surface different wetting may occur.  In some cases like hardwood floor cleaners you want wetting (contact of  <90 deg to the surface)  to occur to allow the soap to spread over the floor so you have certain surfactants.  However, on the surface of the plants which are hydrophobic a contact angle of >90 deg to the surface with some plants like the lotus leaf exhibiting around 160 deg!! Superhydrophic-expialidocious!!!   This allows dirt particles to be picked up off the leaf leaving the leaf clean so it can harvest the particular wavelengths of light for photosynthesis.  Then it can produce food more efficiently. 

A million years after plants figured this out humans have tried to the same thing in order to harvest light.  Photovoltaic panels or solar panels use the sun's energy to generate electricity.  It can do this at any time of the year and even when the sun is not even showing through the clouds.  However, the solar panels work best when the sun is shining directly on top of the solar panels.  Researchers however need special coatings need to be both abrasion and moisture resistant as well as antireflective.  If there are surface defects in the solar material it will lose surface area for harvesting.  Also the material has to be really hydrophobic in order to clean any dust or water off the panel.  If any dirt is on the panel it can reduce the solar efficiency by a lot.  Dow and other companies have made better coatings with maximum hydrophobicity and giving other properties like antiabrasion and antireflection properties.  Some of these properties can be tested using instruments like the Kibron EZPi Plus for testing the surface tension, The Abrasion Scrub tester by Byk for testing the abrasion resistance and antireflective properties by Princeton instruments.

So the sun brings great things like food for your table and energy for your ipod.  Sometimes it needs a little help to be harvested correctly with good surface coatings.  So worship the sun!