September 9, 2013
As you may know, a mirrored curve in a surface (concave) can focus light and magnify as well. Makeup type mirrors come in handy when you need to see yourself, biglike. There are formulas that can calculate the amount of magnification which is basically comparing the size of the object (your real face for example) to the size of the image (the magnified face). How does 10x look to you? Helpful when you can’t put on those reading glasses.
I have a Stirling Engine (supposed to be my son’s) that has a solar collector. It’s one of those bowl-shaped mirrors that concentrates sunlight which then makes the engine work if I get it aligned with the sun just right. But what if you are an architect and you design a tall curved building with mirrored windows? The result is some intense sunlight that has burned part of a Jaguar car parked in front of the building along with burning other things. When the sun is at the right location in front of that building the heat that is focused can reach the boiling temperature of water. Just having light reflect off a flat mirrored window into your face is bad enough but focusing the light to be hot enough to melt or burn plastic or boil water?
This makes me wonder about skyscrapers in general. What’s the purpose of building the highest? I know. We’re no different than those guys who wanted those huge pyramids but no one wants a pyramid anymore. It’s all about how much you can put in one place and call it useful. This London “fryscaper” as it’s been called is also known as the walkie talkie building because it also has that shape. If we really wanted to make the best use of the structure I think the architect might have been onto something but just didn’t do it the right way. Concentrated solar power (aka, CSP) could have been a secondary goal to generate heat for the building or run some generator for electricity. What really is a green building if it can’t use some of that sun instead of heating up the bricks on it or reflecting it on it’s neighbors?
This also made me wonder (I do that a lot) how much of the sun can we collect in a mirror and focus that light somewhere to be useful instead of frying the sidewalks and people. Apparently there’s a lot of real energy producing “plants” already doing this. We just need the architects and concentrated solar power engineers to meet up so they can put this all in one building.