Saturday, February 28, 2009

Team Of Monkeys Changes Name To Ink Blot Mazes

For Immediate Release:
March 1st 2009

The maze production house Team Of Monkeys has changed its name to Ink Blot Mazes. "This name change will streamline our brand recognition while at the same time helping us by defining our product within the name" said Yonatan Frimer, one of the artist at Ink Blot Mazes.

After being published since 2006 in various newspapers and magazines, Ink Blot Mazes has now begun licensing their mazes to activity work-booklets as well as increasing the number of publications and syndicates involved in publishing the mazes.

"The choice to pursue newspapers more aggressively comes at a good time." said Keith Nanwood, Marketing assistant at Ink Blot Mazes, "Print publication are suffering from their subscribers going more and more to the internet for their news. With the recent popularity of Sudoku, word finds, and now mazes, readers have a good reason to get a paper delivered everyday."

According to Marla Singer, Marketing Director at Inkblot Mazes, "Mazes, Sudoku, word finds and other puzzles are really the only interactive aspects of print media. With articles and comics, the reader just passively accepts the information. But with Sudoku or mazes, they take out their pen and 'interact with the paper.'"

Ink Blot Maze differ from normal mazes in that images are conformed from the shapes of the lines creating the path of the mazes. Their popularity is mainly due to their depiction of various celebrities as well as teams of monkeys achieving unusual tasks by working in a team.

Media Contact
Yonatan Frimer
Maze Artist

Self Maze Portrait

Yonatan Frimer began drawing mazes in the 3rd grade out of boredom. Anytime his mind would wonder off he'd simply whisk away the boredom with a few mazing pencil strokes - they didn't let him write with pens, yet, at that age.

Fast forward about 20 years later to when Yonatan broke his leg in a motorcycle accident and was hospitalized and bed bound for nearly 3 years. Too keep his mind as busy as possible during the recovery period, he focused on drawing mazes. As much as 15 hours a day, pretty much everyday, for nearly 3 years. He also practiced drawing not just mazes, but also portraits and caricatures as well as anime and plain old comics, which he often incorporates into better maze making.

After making several hundred mazes and posting them to the internet, Yonatan began getting many request for printing his mazes from various newspapers and magazine publications, which has grown over time to include millions of copies in 5 countries!

Until 2009, most of the mazes where posted to Team Of Monkeys . com . In Feb 2009, the mazes where renamed under the brand Ink Blot Mazes along with a higher production rate to meet the demands of publications and syndicates.

maze of 3d impossible boxBlivet Maze thumbmaze of monkey illusion medium

barak obama maze by maze of mazes artist yonatan frimermaze of monkey illusion mediumbarak obama maze by maze of mazes artist yonatan frimer

Some Maze Videos:

How naming the maze can make the maze:

This is a maze I call "April Showers Bring MAZE Flowers".
I usually try to work the word MAZE in a funny way into some normal saying or catch phrase

April Showers Bring Maze Flowers

Mazerotti is intended to sound like Maserati, the exotic Italian sports car manufacturer.

My Mazerotti does 185

Somewhere in storage, near a Mediterranean coast, I have a booklet of mazes I titles Maze Anatomy
I guess you could call it a spin off the famous Anatomy Illustration Book, Grey's Anatomy.
Drawing Anatomically correct biology illustrations is much harder than, and not nearly as much fun, as it looks.
Here is one of the mazes from that collection: An Eukaryotic Cell. Can't imagine why these never really took off.
Animal Cell Maze

I have recently begun publishing my mazes and am very interested in speaking with any publishers.

Contact Info
Maze Phabet Soup

Home Contact About the Artist
Ink Blot Mazes

Friday, February 27, 2009

all about Dye-sensitized solar cells and how they work

Dye-sensitized solar cell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A selection of dye-sensitized solar cells

A dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSc, DSC or DYSC[1]) is a relatively new class of low-cost solar cell, that belong to the group of thin-film solar cells.[2] It is based on a semiconductor formed between a photo-sensitized anode and an electrolyte, a photoelectrochemical system. This cell was invented by Michael Grätzel and Brian O'Regan at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in 1991[3] and are also known as Grätzel cells.

This cell is extremely promising because it is made of low-cost materials and does not need elaborate apparatus to manufacture. In bulk it should be significantly less expensive than older solid-state cell designs. It can be engineered into flexible sheets and is mechanically robust, requiring no protection from minor events like hail or tree strikes. Although its conversion efficiency is less than the best thin-film cells, its price/performance ratio (kWh/M2/annum) should be high enough to allow them to compete with fossil fuel electrical generation (grid parity). Commercial applications, which were held up due to chemical stability problems, are now forecast in the European Union Photovoltaic Roadmap to be a potentially significant contributor to renewable electricity generation by 2020.

Previous technology: semiconductor solar cells

In a traditional solid-state semiconductor, a solar cell is made from two doped crystals, one with a slight negative bias (n-type semiconductor), which has extra free electrons, and the other with a slight positive bias (p-type semiconductor), which is lacking free electrons. When placed in contact, some of the electrons in the n-type portion will flow into the p-type to "fill in" the missing electrons, also known as an electron hole. Eventually enough will flow across the boundary to equalize the Fermi levels of the two materials. The result is a region at the interface, the p-n junction, where charge carriers are depleted and/or accumulated on each side of the interface. In silicon, this transfer of electrons produces a potential barrier of about 0.6V to 0.7V[4].

When placed in the sun, photons in the sunlight can strike the bound electrons in the p-type side of the semiconductor, giving them more energy, a process known technically as photoexcitation. In silicon, sunlight can provide enough energy to push an electron out of the lower-energy valence band into the higher-energy conduction band. As the name implies, electrons in the conduction band are free to move about the silicon. When a load is placed across the cell as a whole, these electrons will flow out of the p-type side into the n-type side, lose energy while moving through the external circuit, and then back into the p-type material where they can once again re-combine with the valence-band hole they left behind. In this way, sunlight creates an electrical current.[4]

In any semiconductor, the bandgap means that only photons with that amount of energy, or more, will contribute to producing a current. In the case of silicon, the majority of visible light from red to violet has enough energy to make this happen. Unfortunately this also means that the higher energy photons, at the blue and violet end of the spectrum, have more than enough energy to cross the bandgap; although some of this extra energy is transferred into the electrons, the vast majority of it is wasted as heat. Another issue is that in order to have a reasonable chance of capturing a photon in the p-type layer it has to be fairly thick. This also increases the chance that a freshly-ejected electron will meet up with a previously-created hole in the material before reaching the p-n junction. These effects produce an upper limit on the efficiency of silicon solar cells, currently around 12% to 15% for common examples and up to 25% for the best laboratory modules.

By far the biggest problem with the conventional approach is cost; solar cells require a relatively thick layer of silicon in order to have reasonable photon capture rates, and silicon is an expensive commodity. There have been a number of different approaches to reduce this cost over the last decade, notably the thin-film approaches, but to date they have seen limited application due to a variety of practical problems. Another line of research has been to dramatically improve efficiency through the multi-junction approach, although these cells are very high cost and suitable only for large commercial deployments. In general terms the types of cells suitable for rooftop deployment have not changed significantly in efficiency, although costs have dropped somewhat due to increased supply.

[edit] DSC

Dye-sensitized solar cells separate the two functions provided by silicon in a traditional cell design. Normally the silicon acts as both the source of photoelectrons, as well as providing the electric field to separate the charges and create a current. In the dye-sensitized solar cell, the bulk of the semiconductor is used solely for charge transport, the photoelectrons are provided from a separate photosensitive dye. Charge separation occurs at the surfaces between the dye, semiconductor and electrolyte.

The dye molecules are quite small (nanometer sized), so in order to capture a reasonable amount of the incoming light the layer of dye molecules needs to be made fairly thick, much thicker than the molecules themselves. To address this problem, a nanomaterial is used as a scaffold to hold large numbers of the dye molecules in a 3-D matrix, increasing the number of molecules for any given surface area of cell. In existing designs, this scaffolding is provided by the semiconductor material, which serves double-duty.


In the case of the original Grätzel design, the cell has three primary parts. On the top is a transparent anode made of fluorine-doped tin oxide (SnO2:F) deposited on the back of a (typically glass) plate. On the back of the conductive plate is a thin layer of titanium dioxide (TiO2), which forms into a highly porous structure with an extremely high surface area. TiO2 only absorbs a small fraction of the solar photons (those in the UV).[5]

The plate is then immersed in a mixture of a photosensitive ruthenium-polypyridine dye (also called molecular sensitizers[5]) and a solvent. After soaking the film in the dye solution, a thin layer of the dye is left covalently bonded to the surface of the TiO2. A separate backing is made with a thin layer of the iodide electrolyte spread over a conductive sheet, typically platinum metal. The front and back parts are then joined and sealed together to prevent the electrolyte from leaking. The construction is simple enough that there are hobby kits available for hand-constructing them.[6] Although they use a number of "advanced" materials, these are inexpensive compared to the silicon needed for normal cells because they require no expensive manufacturing steps. TiO2, for instance, is already widely used as a paint base.


Sunlight enters the cell through the transparent SnO2:F top contact, striking the dye on the surface of the TiO2. Photons striking the dye with enough energy to be absorbed will create an excited state of the dye, from which an electron can be "injected" directly into the conduction band of the TiO2, and from there it moves by diffusion (as a result of an electron concentration gradient) to the clear anode on top.

Meanwhile, the dye molecule has lost an electron and the molecule will decompose if another electron is not provided. The dye strips one from iodide in electrolyte below the TiO2, oxidizing it into triiodide. This reaction occurs quite quickly compared to the time that it takes for the injected electron to recombine with the oxidized dye molecule, preventing this recombination reaction that would effectively short-circuit the solar cell.

The triiodide then recovers its missing electron by mechanically diffusing to the bottom of the cell, where the counter electrode re-introduces the electrons after flowing through the external circuit.


Main article: Solar conversion efficiency

There are several important measures that are used to characterize solar cells. The most obvious is the total amount of electrical power produced for a given amount of solar power shining on the cell. Expressed as a percentage, this is known as the solar conversion efficiency. Electrical power is the product of current and voltage, so the maximum values for these measurements are important as well, Jsc and Voc respectively. Finally, in order to understand the underlying physics, the "quantum efficiency" is used to compare the chance that one photon (of a particular energy) will create one electron.

In quantum efficiency terms, DSSc's are extremely efficient. Due to their "depth" in the nanostructure there is a very high chance that a photon will be absorbed, and the dyes are very effective at converting them to electrons. Most of the small losses that do exist in DSSc's are due to conduction losses in the TiO2 and the clear electrode, or optical losses in the front electrode. The overall quantum efficiency for green light is about 90%, with the "lost" 10% being largely accounted for by the optical losses in top electrode.[7] The quantum efficiency of traditional designs vary, depending on their thickness, but are about the same as the DSSc.

The maximum voltage generated by such a cell, in theory, is simply the difference between the (quasi-)Fermi level of the TiO2 and the redox potential of the electrolyte, about 0.7 V under solar illumination conditions (Voc). That is, if an illuminated DSSc is connected to a voltmeter in an "open circuit", it would read about 0.7 V. In terms of voltage, DSSc's offer slightly higher Voc than silicon, about 0.7 V compared to 0.6 V. This is a fairly small difference, so real-world differences are dominated by current production, Jsc.

Although the dye is highly efficient at turning absorbed photons into free electrons in the TiO2, it is only those photons which are absorbed by the dye that ultimately result in current being produced. The rate of photon absorption depends upon the absorption spectrum of the sensitized TiO2 layer and upon the solar flux spectrum. The overlap between these two spectra determines the maximum possible photocurrent. Typically used dye molecules generally have poorer absorption in the red part of the spectrum compared to silicon, which means that fewer of the photons in sunlight are usable for current generation. These factors limit the current generated by a DSSc, for comparison, a traditional silicon-based solar cell offers about 35 mA/cm², whereas current DSSc's offer about 20 mA/cm².

Combined with a fill factor of about 70%, overall peak power production for current DSSc's is about 11%.[8][9]


DSSC degrades from UV light. The barrier may include UV stabilizers and/or UV absorbing luminescent chromophores (which emit at longer wavelengths) and antioxidants to protect and improve the efficiency of the cell [10].

Advantages and drawbacks

DSSc's are currently the most efficient third-generation solar technology available. Other thin-film technologies are typically around 8%, and traditional low-cost commercial silicon panels operate between 12% and 15%. This makes DSSc's attractive as a replacement for existing technologies in "low density" applications like rooftop solar collectors, where the mechanical robustness and light weight of the glass-less collector is a major advantage. They may not be as attractive for large-scale deployments where higher-cost higher-efficiency cells are more viable, but even small increases in the DSSc conversion efficiency might make them suitable for some of these roles as well.

There is another area where DSScs are particularly attractive. The process of injecting an electron directly into the TiO2 is qualitatively different to that occurring in a traditional cell, where the electron is "promoted" within the original crystal. In theory, given low rates of production, the high-energy electron in the silicon could re-combine with its own hole, giving off a photon (or other form of energy) and resulting in no current being generated. Although this particular case may not be common, it is fairly easy for an electron generated in another molecule to hit a hole left behind in a previous photoexcitation.

In comparison, the injection process used in the DSSc does not introduce a hole in the TiO2, only an extra electron. Although it is energetically possible for the electron to recombine back into the dye, the rate at which this occurs is quite slow compared to the rate that the dye regains an electron from the surrounding electrolyte. Recombination directly from the TiO2 to species in the electrolyte is also possible although, again, for optimized devices this reaction is rather slow.[11] On the contrary, electron transfer from the platinum coated electrode to species in the electrolyte is necessarily very fast.

As a result of these favorable "differential kinetics", DSSc's work even in low-light conditions. DSSc's are therefore able to work under cloudy skies and non-direct sunlight, whereas traditional designs would suffer a "cutout" at some lower limit of illumination, when charge carrier mobility is low and recombination becomes a major issue. The cutoff is so low they are even being proposed for indoor use, collecting energy for small devices from the lights in the house.[12]

A practical advantage, one DSSc's share with most thin-film technologies, is that the cell's mechanical robustness indirectly leads to higher efficiencies in higher temperatures. In any semiconductor, increasing temperature will promote some electrons into the conduction band "mechanically". The fragility of traditional silicon cells requires them to be protected from the elements, typically by encasing them in a glass box similar to a greenhouse, with a metal backing for strength. Such systems suffer noticeable decreases in efficiency as the cells heat up internally. DSSc's are normally built with only a thin layer of conductive plastic on the front layer, allowing them to radiate away heat much easier, and therefore operate at lower internal temperatures.

The major disadvantage to the DSSc design is the use of the liquid electrolyte, which has temperature stability problems. At low temperatures the electrolyte can freeze, ending power production and potentially leading to physical damage. Higher temperatures cause the liquid to expand, making sealing the panels a serious problem. Another major drawback is the electrolyte solution, which contains volatile organic solvents and must be carefully sealed. This, along with the fact that the solvents permeate plastics, has precluded large-scale outdoor application and integration into flexible structure.[13]

Replacing the liquid electrolyte with a solid has been a major ongoing field of research. Recent experiments using solidified melted salts have shown some promise, but currently suffer from higher degradation during continued operation, and are not flexible.[14]


The dyes used in early experimental cells (circa 1995) were sensitive only in the high-frequency end of the solar spectrum, in the UV and blue. Newer versions were quickly introduced (circa 1999) that had much wider frequency response, notably "triscarboxy-terpyridine Ru-complex" [Ru(2,2',2"-(COOH)3-terpy)(NCS)3], which is efficient right into the low-frequency range of red and IR light. The wide spectral response results in the dye having a deep brown-black color, and is referred to simply as "black dye".[15] The dyes have an excellent chance of converting a photon into an electron, originally around 80% but improving to almost perfect conversion in more recent dyes, the overall efficiency is about 90%, with the "lost" 10% being largely accounted for by the optical losses in top electrode.[7]

A solar cell must be capable of producing electricity for at least twenty years, without a significant decrease in efficiency (lifespan). The "black dye" system was subjected to 50 million cycles, the equivalent of ten years' exposure to the sun in Switzerland. No discernible decrease of the performance was observed. However the dye is subject to breakdown in high-light situations. Over the last decade an extensive research program has been carried out to address these concerns, which were completed in 2007.[7]

The team has also worked on a series of newer dye formulations while the work on the Ru-complex continued. These have included 1-ethyl-3 methylimidazolium tetrocyanoborate [EMIB(CN)4] which is extremely light- and temperature-stable, copper-diselenium [Cu(In,GA)Se2] which offers higher conversion efficiencies, and others with varying special-purpose properties.

DSSc's are still at the start of their development cycle. Efficiency gains are possible and have recently started more widespread study. These include the use of quantum dots for conversion of higher-energy (higher frequency) light into multiple electrons, using solid-state electrolytes for better temperature response, and changing the doping of the TiO2 to better match it with the electrolyte being used.

New developments


The first successful solid-hybrid dye-sensitized solar cells were reported.[14]

To improve electron transport in these solar cells, while maintaining the high surface area needed for dye adsorption, two researchers have designed alternate semiconductor morphologies, such as arrays of nanowires and a combination of nanowires and nanoparticles,to provide a direct path to the electrode via the semiconductor conduction band. Such structures may provide a means to improve the quantum efficiency of DSSCs in the red region of the spectrum, where their performance is currently limited.[16]

On August 2006, to prove the chemical and thermal robustness of the 1-ethyl-3 methylimidazolium tetracyanoborate solar cell, the researchers subjected the devices to heating at 80°C in the dark for 1000 hours, followed by light soaking at 60°C for 1000 hours. After dark heating and light soaking, 90% of the initial photovoltaic efficiency was maintained – the first time such excellent thermal stability has been observed for a liquid electrolyte that exhibits such a high conversion efficiency. Contrary to silicon solar cells, whose performance declines with increasing temperature, the dye-sensitized solar-cell devices were only negligibly influenced when increasing the operating temperature from ambient to 60°C.

April 2007

Wayne Campbell at Massey University, New Zealand, has experimented with a wide variety of organic dyes based on porphyrin.[17] In nature, porphyrin is the basic building block of the hemoproteins, which include chlorophyll in plants and hemoglobin in animals. He reports efficiency on the order of 7.1% using these low-cost dyes.[18]

June 2008

In a joint article published in Nature Materials, Michael Grätzel and colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences demonstrated cell efficiencies of 8.2% using a new solvent-free liquid redox electrolyte consisting of a melt of three salts, as an alternative to using organic solvents as an electrolyte solution. Although the efficiency with this electrolyte is less than the 11% being delivered using the existing iodine-based solutions, the team is confident the efficiency can be improved.[19]

[edit] Market introduction

DSC is the only third generation technology ready for mass production[20]. DSC's are currently available from several commercial providers:

How Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells Work

Diagram showing how dye-sensitized solar cells work

How Wind Turbines Work...

How wind turbines work

Wind turbines offer part of the solution to the world's renewable energy sourced electricity needs, and in some countries currently represents over 10% of the electricity supply.

This percentage will no doubt increase in the years ahead and the sight of wind turbines scattered across landscapes will become an increasingly common occurrence. It's all a part of the battle to reduce global warming induced climate change and to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

While we're likely most familiar with the huge turbines that crank out electricity for hundreds or thousands of residences, there are now many smaller options available for residential use.

Wind and solar energy connection

It's important to understand that wind is actually a form of solar energy - so by saying that a wind turbine harnesses solar power isn't totally incorrect. Wind is a phenomenon that occurs caused by the uneven heating of the Earth's surface in combination with the spinning of the planet on its axis.

Turbine design

A wind turbine, instead of operating like a fan in your home that uses electricity to create wind, uses wind to create electricity. The blades of the turbine are shaped in such a way that wind causes them to rotate, which spins a low speed shaft with a gear at the end which is connected to another smaller gear on a high speed shaft that runs through a generator housing.

The generator creates electricity using much the same principle as the alternator on your car (depending on the turbine type). A magnetic rotor on the high speed shaft inside the generator housing spins inside loops of copper wire that are wound around an iron core. As the rotor spins around the inside of the core it creates "electromagnetic induction" through the coils that generates an electrical current. That current is then regulated and fed into the grid (or a residential grid connect system) after some modification so that it can be used in our homes or routed into a battery bank for storage. Where a battery bank is used, a regulator prevents overcharging.

The most common wind turbine is the horizontal-axis, which looks somewhat like a traditional windmill, but there are also vertical-axis designs that look similar to an egg-beater or paddle wheel laid on its side.

Wind farm
horizontal axis wind turbine farm - large scale electricity production

Horizontal and Vertical Axis Wind Turbines
Horizontal and vertical axis wind turbine models for home use
Image courtesy Energy Matters Australia - Wind Turbine Specialists

In the horizontal-axis type, a yaw mechanism in the turbine shaft is utilized to turn the wind turbine rotor into the wind, increasing efficiency. In most cases with wind farm turbines, this is a powered by a small electric motor and computer monitoring.

Turbine size and output

Wind turbines for commercial electricity production usual range from 100 kilowatts to 5 megawatts. At the time of writing, the largest wind turbine in the world had a rotor diameter of 126 m (390 feet) and the potential to generate enough electricity for 5000 households.

A wind turbine for home use has rotors between 8 and 25 feet in diameter and usually has the potential to generate between a few hundred watts and 6 kilowatts of electricity. Some wind turbines can be used in conjunction with a grid connect system.

For every kilowatt hour of electricity produced by wind energy or other green means, approximately 1.5 pounds of carbon is prevented from going into the atmosphere if that electricity had been sourced from coal fired power plants. Carbon dioxide is a major contributor to global warming induced climate change.

Wind speeds needed

A wind turbine usually needs wind speeds of around 10 miles an hour (16kmh) to start generating electricity and optimum wind speed for large turbines is approximately 30 miles per hour ; so they aren't really an option if you're located in an area where winds are usually light and variable, although some models are now being produced that can generate electricity with as little as 5 mile per hour wind speeds - particularly vertical axis models.

Wind speed usually increases with height and where there are no natural or man-made obstructions and this why you'll often see them on hilltops or perhaps in the middle of wheat fields. The wind energy industry has been a boon for many farmers as they can still crop their land with little interference and also generate an income from allowing the turbines on their property. Increasing numbers of wind farms are also being erected offshore.

The blades of a wind turbine rotate at a rate of between 10 to 50 revolutions per minute. In a situation where wind speeds are excessive, for example if there's a gale, the turbine automatically shuts down to prevent damage.

Turbine lifespan

The lifespan of a modern turbine is pegged at around 120 000 hours or 20-25 years, but they aren't totally maintenance free. As they contain moving components, some parts will need to be replaced during their working life. From what I've researched, the cost of maintenance and parts replacement is around the 1 cent USD/ AU per kWh or 1.5 to 2 per cent annually of the original turbine cost.

Environmental impact

Wind turbines aren't overly noisy - mechanical noise is minimum these days and you'll mostly hear the swoosh of the blades passing the tower. Of course, if you're living close to a large wind farm, it could present some noise issues; but most countries have regulations regarding the placement of wind farms in relation to residential areas.

Wind turbines are created from fiberglass, plastics, aluminium, copper, steel and various other metals, so they do have an impact on the environment in that respect and there's also the energy used to to manufacture the turbine. Many turbine parts are recyclable and it's my understanding the amount of energy used in manufacture is balanced out within six to eight months after being commissioned.

Wind farms do have an impact on birds - there have been recorded cases of birds being killed by rotor blades when they fly into them; but there's a great deal of research being carried out to try and minimize the problem. It's also an issue taken into consideration in most countries when choosing a location for a wind farm in relation to bird migratory patterns.

Costs and regulation for residential turbines

Turbines used in residential situations are much quieter than their wind farm counterparts, but you'll need to check with your local authorities as they are still not permitted in some areas - this being the case, your best options for renewable energy is solar power. If you do meet resistance with your local council, talk to them about vertical turbine options as these emit lower noise, have a lower profile and are considered to be generally more aesthetically pleasing than their horizontal axis counterparts. As local government tends to be behind the times with technological developments in renewable energy, it doesn't hurt to raise the possibility of that alternative.

Wind turbines for home use vary in price and greatly depend on your electricity needs vs. wind availability, but you can expect to pay around $12,000 to cater for the average home. However, bear in mind that cost can be greatly offset by renewable energy rebates offered by many governments.

Many people think that wind turbines are ugly, and I tend to agree; but I feel that way about most things man made that are added to a natural landscape. Aesthetics aside, the other point that people should bear in mind that if we want to maintain the level of comfort we've grown accustomed to in our modern lives, there will always be some sort of price to pay beyond dollars and cents.

If I had to choose between living close by to a wind farm or a coal fired electricity generation plant, I'd certainly opt for the wind farm and I'd definitely consider a residential model turbine if wind was a reliable factor in my area - there's nothing quite like the feeling of gaining independence through your own electricity generation :).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mind the crevasse: The amazing 3D pavement art that has pedestrians on edge

Mind the crevasse: The amazing 3D pavement art that has pedestrians on edge

By Tom Kelly
Last updated at 10:10 PM on 23rd February 2009

After a sudden shift in the Earth's crust, the ground has cracked open.

What was terra firma is now a gaping crevasse.

And into it - his arms raised in terror - plunges a hapless pedestrian on a shard of rock.

street art

The Crevasse: The giant fissure, in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, spans over 250 square metres and appears to show a fault in the earth's crust

In another apocalyptic scenario, a family desperately struggle to cross what remains of a street. They hold hands while balancing on islands of tarmac.

Below them a rushing urban river laps against rocks that glow with volcanic intensity.

But, of course, neither of these scenes is what they appear. They are giant optical illusions conceived by German artist Edgar Mueller.

Edgar Mueller street art

Hands across the great divide: But the torrent below is not what it seems

He spent five days, working 12 hours a day, to create the 250 square metre image of the crevasse, which, viewed from the correct angle, appears to be 3D. He then persuaded passers-by to complete the illusion by pretending the gaping hole was real.

'I wanted to play with positives and negatives to encourage people to think twice about everything they see,' he said.

'It was a very scary scene, but when people saw it they had great fun playing on it and pretending to fall into the earth.

'I like to think that later, when they returned home, they might reflect more on what a frightening scenario it was and say, "Wow, that was actually pretty scary".'

Hard work: Together with up to five assistants, Mueller painted all day long from sunrise to sunset

Hard work: Together with up to five assistants, Mueller painted all day long from sunrise to sunset

Mueller, 40, used acrylic wall paint to create the scene. He trained a camera lens on his work surface to help him fully visualise the idea before painting in the incredible detail to give an impression of depth on the flat surface.

He added: 'The conditions were difficult because if it started raining before a section had dried it could all wash it all away.

'I was very lucky that I managed to get each part done before the heavens opened.'

Scroll down to watch a video of the making of the The Crevasse...

The picture appeared on the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, as part of the town's Festival of World Cultures.

The artist used the same technique to create the street-turned-river scene in the western German city of Geldern.


Use your eyes: The apocalyptic street art by German artist Edgar Mueller

It commemorated the 30th anniversary of an international competition of street painters, which takes place in the city every summer.

Check out- Maze of Mazes - Lots of really cool mazes that you can print or do on-screen

Mueller, who has previously painted a giant waterfall in Canada, said he was inspired by the British 'Pavement Picasso' Julian Beever, whose dramatic but more gentle 3D street images have featured in the Daily Mail.

They include a swimming pool chalked on the street so realistically that shoppers swerved to avoid it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

New maze portfolio now available in PDF

New maze portfolio now available in PDF

Click here to see the portfolio NOW

The artist of Team Of Monkeys and Maze of Mazes has a new portfolio out according the the latest reports. The portfolio includes mazes that have been seen before, but not at this quality, as well as new mazes, never seen before.

The entire portfolio is compressed to less than 4MB and will be emailed to various qualifying news outlets to be updated.

The portfolio can be accessed at:

Real life rupe goldberg device created by Baynhan and Tyers

Really cool working rupe goldberg like contraption!

Getting to college a maze Students get help with aid forms as economy worsens J. Peder Zane - Staff Writer

Getting to college a maze

Students get help with aid forms as economy worsens

- Staff Writer

Esha Hickson knows that dreams must be grounded in reality. She hasn't just imagined herself becoming a doctor some day; she's worked hard to earn straight A's at Knightdale High School.

Now she fears that the nightmare of the recession may smother her hopes. "College is so expensive and money is so tight, I'm really afraid," the soft-spoken senior said Saturday at Meredith College. "I will never give up, but it's going to be a huge struggle."

Hickson was one of an estimated 4,000 students who visited Meredith and 64 other locations across the state Saturday for help filling out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The eight-page form is the first step college-bound students must take as they try to cobble together a package of grants, loans and scholarships to help pay for college.

Reflecting the tough economic times, applications for federal financial aid in North Carolina have risen 29 percent so far this year, according to the College Foundation of North Carolina, a FAFSA sponsor that helps students with filling out the applications and finding loans.

Mazes and Cartoons

Prospective collegians face a particularly daunting environment. In response to budgetary pressures, many colleges and universities have raised prices. Earlier this month, the UNC system's Board of Governors increased tuition and fees for in-state students by an average of 3.9 percent across its 16 campuses.

The baby boom of the '80s and '90s and the influx of immigrants mean that the number of high school students is steadily rising.

Rising unemployment and the falling stock market have also made it harder for families to foot those bills. The College Foundation reports that contributions to its college savings program -- the NC 529 program -- have decreased while the number of families withdrawing those monies for purpose other than college has doubled.

As a result, many more families are asking for help. Requests for aid at UNC-Chapel Hill were up 13 percent this year, according to Shirley Ort, director of scholarships and aid. She expects that to grow 15 percent more this year.

Ort said 35 percent of UNC-CH students now receive need-based aid to cover tuition and fees, which will reach $5,456 next year.

The percentage is even higher at Meredith College, a private women's college where annual tuition and fees are $30,290. Sixty-five percent of Meredith students receive need-based aid, and 95 percent of all students receive some sort of assistance, said Sandra Rhyne, the school's director for

Absolut Maze

From Maze of Mazes by Yonatan Frimer


Rhyne and Ort both stressed that people should not assume that they wouldn't qualify for aid. At UNC-CH, the median income of a family of four receiving need-based aid this year is $50,300, Ort said.

Although the eight-page FAFSA can seem forbidding, many of the 200 families who showed up at Meredith College on Saturday said it took less than 30 minutes to fill it out.

"As long as you have the right documents, like your tax forms, brokerage and savings account information, it's not so bad,' said Danny Wim of Morrisville, whose daughter Eunice will attend Duke University next year. Rhyne of Meredith College said the financial aid officers at most schools are happy to walk people through the process.

North Carolinians can find the FAFSA and receive help filling it out from the College Foundation's Web site,, or by calling 866-866-2343.

Completing the form is only the start of the journey. As they sat together in a Meredith College classroom Saturday, Brandon Salig's family insisted that he type in all the information in the FAFSA form. His parents said they will do everything they can to help the senior at Wake Forest-Rolesville High School realize his dream of studying music at Western Carolina University. But they want him to be fully aware of the economic realities that involves.

"This is a big deal, and he knows that," said his stepfather Marlon Mitchell. "But seeing exactly how big a deal it is will drive it home." or 919-829-4773

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Another funny Rupe Goldberg

Goldberg was hired by the city of San Francisco as an engineer; however, his fondness for drawing cartoons prevailed, and after just a few months, he quit the city job for a job with the San Francisco Chronicle as a sports cartoonist. The following year, he took a job with the San Francisco Bulletin, where he remained until he moved to New York City in 1907.

He drew cartoons for five newspapers, including the New York Evening Journal and the New York Evening Mail. His work entered syndication in 1915, beginning his nationwide popularity. He was syndicated by the McNaught Syndicate from 1922 until 1934. A prolific artist, Goldberg produced several cartoon series simultaneously, including Mike and Ike (They Look Alike), Boob McNutt, Foolish Questions, Lala Palooza and The Weekly Meeting of the Tuesday Women's Club.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

CRTC aims to carve out national identity online

CRTC aims to carve out national identity online

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

Amid fears that Canada's culture is being drowned in a sea of online video from around the world, federal regulators are looking at setting up a $100-million fund to support homegrown programming on the Internet.

The controversial proposal, which is aimed at staking out a more distinct national identity online, has pitted the television production community against Canada's Internet service providers, who may ultimately have to foot the bill, or pass those costs onto customers.

Traditionally, Ottawa has stayed away from treating online content as part of the broadcast industry. But under a scenario proposed yesterday, Internet service providers could be asked to surrender 3 per cent of their subscriber revenue – roughly $100-million – to a fund that would help produce Canadian programs for the Web.

“We must respect the principles of openness and individual choice that govern the Internet, while maintaining access to, and for, Canadian stories, opinions and ideas,” CRTC chairman Konrad Von Finckenstein said yesterday on the first day of hearings into the future of new media in Canada.

It is the first time in 10 years that the regulator has called hearings on the subject after deciding in 1999 to take a hands-off approach to new media on the Internet. While the move doesn't involve regulating how much Canadian content domestic websites such as those run by the TV networks must carry, it is potentially an attempt to encourage more homegrown Canadian programming online.

Members of the TV production community, including actors and directors, supported the idea at the hearings in Gatineau, Que., saying it would help carve a place, however small, for Canadian content in a borderless Internet world.

The Internet service providers (ISPs) criticized the idea as interventionist and suggested the CRTC lacks the legal clout to create such a fund.

“We don't think that the commission even has the jurisdiction to impose a new tax on ISPs and we certainly don't think that our customers or Internet users should be paying a tax to fund Canadian content,” said Pam Dinsmore, vice-president of regulatory affairs for Rogers' cable unit.

Though it's not certain the CRTC will adopt the idea in the end – the hearings are spread out over the next four weeks – the concept would be similar to the $242-million Canadian Television Fund. The CTF collects about half of its budget from cable and satellite TV companies and turns those dollars over to independent producers to help fund domestic comedies, dramas and documentaries.

Organizations representing Canadian artists told the CRTC yesterday that the evolution of the Internet in the past decade has rendered it no different from television, given the amount of online video being consumed. The average Canadian spends 46 hours a month online, and 83 per cent of people now watch video content, data from the regulator suggests.

“The Internet is just another media-distribution platform like any other that we've had,” said Stephen Waddell, executive director of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists. “And in our view, if the CRTC doesn't give some opportunity to Canadian content to have a place on that platform, we're going to be immersed in non-Canadian content.”

The debate for the CRTC will eventually hinge on whether to treat Internet service providers as broadcasters or as data pipes under federal laws. TV networks have responsibilities under the Broadcasting Act to support Canadian culture.

In 2007, the regulator decided to take a hands-off approach to mobile devices, such as cellphones that stream video content from the Internet.

In a sign of how bitter the fight could be, Shaw Communications Inc. has already sought opinions from two of Canada's largest law firms, Stikeman Elliott LLP and Torys LLP, that it says show the regulator may not have authority to install the levy.

“The introduction of a tax on Internet use or bureaucratic interference in access to content will not be acceptable and will be perceived as an unjustifiable restriction on freedom of Internet expression,” Ken Stein, Shaw's senior vice-president of regulatory affairs told the CRTC in a letter.

While the production community argued such a fund would support jobs across the country, Rogers warned the cost would be passed on to monthly bills, a statement echoed by other Internet providers.

“It would mean that the cost of an Internet subscription would go up because these costs, inevitably, are passed along to the consumer or to the customer,” Ms. Dinsmore said.