Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sun Worship and Solar Powered Cars

The Indy 500 it's not, but my guess is that the winners achieve a fair measure of prestige amongst their peers. And isn't that what counts? Danica Patrick is making a lot of money these days, I'm sure, but what she really desires -- and has earned now -- is respect.

It's not a race the Joe Sixpack is eager to see on the Speed channel, but for sheer bottom-line satisfaction, a race by solar-powered vehicles has a certain level of Star Trek aura about it. The fastest car averaged almost 44 miles per hour. I'd be interested in hearing what it sounded like. A golf cart? A hum? Or just wind?

The story unfolded like this:

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (06/08/2009) — The University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project team came away this past weekend with a decisive first-place finish in the 2009 Formula Sun Grand Prix, a closed-track race at MotorSport Ranch in Cresson, Texas.

With its latest solar-powered car, named Centaurus, the team of engineering students from the university’s Institute of Technology completed 487 laps on the 1.7-mile, road-style track (827.9 miles total) throughout the three-day race. This was 94 more laps than the second-place finisher University of Kentucky. Northwestern University placed third. The University of Minnesota team also ran the fastest lap at two minutes and 20 seconds. Eleven solar car teams from across the country participated in the event this year.

“The team did a great job, helped others and pulled off a very clean race,” said Adem Rudin, the student crew chief of the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project team. This is the second consecutive Formula Sun Grand Prix victory for the University of Minnesota team. The race was last held in 2005 at the Heartland Park Raceway in Topeka, Kan., where the University of Minnesota solar car Borealis III took first place.

If you would like to support the team and its solar power research, here are some contacts that would love to hear from you.

Notice that they had the event in Texas. Odds are that Duluth MN was not a consideration. For back pocket trivia, did you know that Duluth has more overcast weather than London? I always thought London was synonymous with fog and dark, damp weather.
A theme song for Duluthians on a typical day: Waiting for the Sun. The lyrics go something like this. "Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting..."

While we're thinking of suns and solar energy, here's the opening poem from a chapbook titled Helping the Sun Grow, by Elizabeth Sandy.

An Incipient Sun Worshiper
In the morning I look to the east,
To the pearly, luminescent glow,
And, like an ancient priest
I try to help the sun to grow.
"A warm day, a fair day," I softly cry.
And nature helps me as I strive.
Everything seems so timid and shy,
But warm, soft, pulsing and alive.
Then dark fog and uncertainty is dispersed
As Sun goes swinging gloriously high --
The underworld once more is cursed --
Our God giving light and warmth to the sky.
How easy to worship the wonderful sun,
If your mind is so unscientific.
So let's drift back five thousand years
And our days will all be terrific.


If you don't have sunshine today.... make your own! And share it brightly.
e.

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