What's news in science? Sensor System Runs On Electricity Generated By Trees. For my study of what's new, and news worthy in today's modern science, I found a couple articles, describing that MIT is constructing a new type of sensor on trees that detect several amounts of data. This is particularly important due to the world’s energy crisis. Anywhere we can get clean electricity and energy is always important and beneficial in the long run. This topic is also potentially interesting because of the several uses that come from harnessing natural energy from trees.I initially found an article by browsing on ‘Google’ from science news searches and found “Can Electricity From Trees Power Gadgets?” from dailygalaxy.com. I learned from reading this source that the scientific explanations are simplified for a general audience to understand. This article is just a basic overview of the science and research of the energy captured from trees. The second source I found was from ‘Google’ after browsing under searches of ‘tree sensor systems’, I came up with an article from MIT discussing the science and process of how energy is harnessed from trees, where the energy comes from, and the analysis and research of the subject in more detail than the first source.
To summarize and evaluate the first source I accessed, according to dailygalaxy.com, a new sensor system is under development from MIT that runs on electricity generated by 'ordinary' trees. Trees are capable of self-sustaining a reliable source of electricity. MIT researchers believe they can power a network of sensors connected directly to trees to perform a variety of tasks. While a tree may not seem like much of a source of power, according to the article trees have a "trickle charge" that adds energy up. The article quotes, "just like a dripping faucet can fill a bucket over time," said Shuguang Zhang, one of the researchers on the project and the associate director of MIT's Center for Biomedical Engineering (CBE). The U.S. Forest Service says that manually recharging or replacing batteries in remote automated weather stations makes things impractical and costly, especially since they are usually located in hard-to-reach places. This would be alleviated by the new sensor system. In the past these weather sensors and forest fire sensors were run off batteries. Now MIT has developed new sensors that can derive their own power from the tree itself. The system would bypass power issues by tapping into the trees very own self-sustaining power supply. This would utilize energy we have on earth, save batteries, and save manual hassle and cost changing them. It would also alleviate landfill usage from batteries. Each sensor is equipped with a battery that can be slowly recharged using electricity generated from the tree. The sensors would be self-sustained with power as a result of the energy emanating from trees. The uses for harnessing the trees power could serve as what the article refers to as “silent sentinels,” sensors along the nation's borders to detect potential threats such as smuggled radioactive materials. The sensors can also track forest fire models and data, as well as detect and prevent fires, by sending early reports to authorities. The new self powered sensor system is a scientific innovation that harnesses secure and efficient data of weather, forest fires, and potential smuggling effectively. How the system transmits information, is from the tree producing enough electricity to allow temperature and humidity sensors to wirelessly communicate signals of information four times a day, or immediately if there's a fire. Each signal hops from one sensor to another, until it reaches an existing weather station that transmits the data by satellite to a forestry command center in Boise, Idaho. The article then proceeds to discuss where this energy from trees actually comes from, and scientifically how the self-powered sensor system works in general terms.
Exactly how is the generating power produced in trees accessible for us to take advantage of? According to the article, MIT colleagues recently reported the answer in the Public Library of Science. "It's really a fairly simple phenomenon: An imbalance in pH between a tree and the soil it grows in," said Andreas Mershin, a postdoctoral associate at the CBE. Voltree Power and the MIT team plan to test the wireless sensor network in the spring on a 10-acre plot of land provided by the Forest Service. Christopher J. Love, creator of the ‘bio-energy harvester battery charger module’ and the ‘sensors’ at MIT said, "We expect that we'll need to instrument four trees per acre…Right now we're finalizing exactly how the wireless sensor network will be configured to use the minimum amount of power." Love also suggests that unskilled workers can design the system for easy installation. If this is all successful in the near future it will function as a wonderful scientific revolution for data collection, weather collection, fire prevention, and smuggling detection.
My opinion on this innovation, in which the original sources don't have, is that we need to be doing things like this more often. We have the capabilities to innovate, create, develop and research new beneficial inventions for our society. As a nation, and as a world, we should have institutions like MIT and others developing and researching new ways to harness energy and other developments more often to propel our existence in prosperity for the future, and in contemporary society. We have the money and the capabilities to develop innovations like this more often, and to utilize these developments like this more often. Instead we have our priorities in racking up debt in Iraq, ruing the economy, and doing other political malfunctions as a country (cough *Bush* cough) instead of developing our time, energy and money into developments like this that save energy, and would strive for the future. This piece of new scientific news matters to me because harvesting energy in new ways is something we need to do more frequently. Anywhere where I see innovations in the right direction of energy preservation, matters to me. It should matter to our class and the rest of the world for the same reasons; the energy crisis is very pressing right now. In general, this innovation doesn’t have a large effect on us, however the data collection from the sensors provides a better way to study weather and forest fire patterns, which indirectly will have an effect on us. This strictly benefits data collection more than us personally. The sources appeared where they did because I accessed the more general article first, through Google, and then I found where that article originated from with more detail on the second source, once I put more effort in research. If this innovation is completed and tested successfully from MIT, then in my mind it will definitely be revolutionary since we found a way to harness energy that’s coming from the very Earth we step foot on.