While Washington politicians argued about the price of gas and whether or not it (like everything else) is the Black guy’s fault, 7th-grader Aidan Dwyer was walking in woods, noticing something peculiar about the angles of the tree branches above him. Noting the connection between trees and sunlight, Dwyer made a few handfuls of calculations and came up with a method to increase the output of solar panels:
Dwyer had discovered the trees’ branches were organized according to the Fibonacci sequence, a handy sequence appearing in various points in nature (the flowering of an artichoke, the number of fruit spouts on a pineapple, et cetera). The 13-year-old decided to test his burgeoning hypothesis by constructing a bank of solar panels angled in a manner similar to the Fibonacci’ed trees, then arranging a typical, linear bank of panels, then comparing the output of the two:
The tree design made 20% more electricity and collected 2 1/2 more hours of sunlight during the day. But the most interesting results were in December, when the Sun was at its lowest point in the sky. The tree design made 50% more electricity, and the collection time of sunlight was up to 50% longer!
Let’s hope Dwyer patents this approach before the oil companies do; they’ll still suppress the technology, but hopefully they’ll pay him enough to finance his college education.
A. Darryl Moton drives a bus. He currently questions his life choices in Portland, Oregon.