Breakthrough in Solar Cell Efficiency

The EETimes is reporting that there has been a major breakthrough in the efficiency of solar cells. Up until now, solar cells have only operated at between 12-18% efficient. Through a grant from the DOE, Boeing-Spectrolab has managed to over double or triple that to 40.7% efficiency. That’s pretty impressive. This means solar cells can be deployed in more and more areas. I know that in WV, solar power doesn’t really work well. Maybe these new cells can change that.

Mapping Social Issues – The Downtown Los Angeles Homeless Map

Cartifact, a Los Angeles-based mapping firm, has produced a visual mapping tool of concentrations of homeless people in downtown Los Angeles which, according to the map website, is the epicenter of the largest homeless population in the US. The map animation shows how the concentrations of homeless people shift around the area over a 4-week period (November 2006). The data used in the mapping project comes from the LA Police Dept.’s Central Division, which began taking counts of the homeless population this year.

The aim of the project is to use mapping and spatial analysis to help City leaders better understand the homeless situation and hopefully use that information to come up with viable solutions.

Via LAVoice.org

Monitor Grid Computing Around the World

The Gird Particle Physics project has a neat feature that lets you monitor grid computing in real time around the world. Basically, in order to do the calculations needed for the world’s largest particle accelerator, scientists have turned to grid computing. For readers who might be unaware exactly what that is, it is more or less getting hundreds or thousands of computers to work together simultaneously to do very large calculations. The application listed on the site will allow anyone to view calculations happening around the world simultaneously. The whole thing is pretty fascinating and show the potential power that could be tapped to do complex calculations, like, say, 3D GIS modeling…