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      It is time to turn away, if only for a few seconds, from the right-wing train wreck that is our country.  Let us focus on good news for those few seconds.  I consider advances in solar energy technology to be good news.  If anyone else has good news about progressive scientific or social advances in this bizarre country, please post them.  I can't be the only one sick to death of reading about sad-sack racists shooting their mouths - or their feet - off.  Or setting fire to wilderness areas with tracer ammo.  Holy shit, if I didn't know better, I'd have to assume every American was a raging idiot of epic proportions.  I know we're not, but it is depressing to see that so much of our social and political discourse is trapped inside right-wing memes.  
       So bring on the good stuff!  The first paragraph of each article is appended to entice you into the realm of the possible.  I left the kitty-cat at the end, just to get you to read the science bits.

Feb. 19, 2013 — Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and other labs have demonstrated a process whereby quantum dots can self-assemble at optimal locations in nanowires, a breakthrough that could improve solar cells, quantum computing, and lighting devices.

Feb. 24, 2013 — Bottles, packaging, furniture, car parts... all made of plastic. Today we find it difficult to imagine our lives without this key material that revolutionized technology over the last century. There is wide-spread optimism in the scientific community that graphene will provide similar paradigm shifting advances in the decades to come. Mobile phones that fold, transparent and flexible solar panels, extra thin computers...the list of potential applications is endless....graphene is able to convert a single photon that it absorbs into multiple electrons that could drive electric current (excited electrons) -- a very promising discovery that makes graphene an important alternative material for light detection and harvesting technologies, now based on conventional semiconductors like silicon.

Feb. 24, 2013 — A new method of harvesting the Sun's energy is emerging, thanks to scientists at UC Santa Barbara's Departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Materials. Though still in its infancy, the research promises to convert sunlight into energy using a process based on metals that are more robust than many of the semiconductors used in conventional methods...."It is the first radically new and potentially workable alternative to semiconductor-based solar conversion devices to be developed in the past 70 years or so"....

Feb. 13, 2012 — In the effort to convert sunlight into electricity, photovoltaic solar cells that use conductive organic polymers for light absorption and conversion have shown great potential. Organic polymers can be produced in high volumes at low cost, resulting in photovoltaic devices that are cheap, lightweight and flexible.

      And just because I can, here's a heartwarming story featuring kittens....

In 1999, a kitten appeared in the yard of an elderly Massachusetts couple, and it was so small that Wallace and Ann Collito at first thought it was a rat. The Collitos believed that someone had thrown the black-and-white kitten over the fence into their mobile home park and they worried about its welfare until they noticed the cat’s unlikely caretaker, an American crow....The Collitos watched in amazement as the crow took the kitten — whom they’d named Cassie — under its wing and began feeding it worms and insects. They couldn’t believe their eyes as they watched the crow they’d dubbed Moses feeding Cassie, protecting her from other animals and cawing to keep her out of the street.

Originally posted to Ran Out of Patience on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 03:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Good News.

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