This 7th grader took a look at the world and saw something that scientists and engineers in solar energy hadn’t yet. Read the article, it’s fascinating and amazing what this 13 year old’s mind discovered. Here’s a snippet or two:
[W]hen I went on a winter hiking trip in the Catskill Mountains in New York, I noticed something strange about the shape of the tree branches. I thought trees were a mess of tangled branches, but I saw a pattern in the way the tree branches grew. I took photos of the branches on different types of trees, and the pattern became clearer.
The branches seemed to have a spiral pattern that reached up into the sky. I had a hunch that the trees had a secret to tell about this shape. Investigating this secret led me on an expedition from the Catskill Mountains to the ancient Sanskrit poetry of India; from the 13th-century streets of Pisa, Italy, and a mysterious mathematical formula called the “divine number” to an 18th-century naturalist who saw this mathematical formula in nature; and, finally, to experimenting with the trees in my own backyard.
He discovered that tree branches and leaves are arranged in a pattern that comes from the Fibonacci sequence. Calling leaves ‘the solar panels of trees’, he theorized that this pattern was a more efficient way of gathering solar energy than a flat array of panels, which is how man made solar panels are made. He built an experiment to answer that question – and he was right:
The Fibonacci tree design performed better than the flat-panel model. The tree design made 20% more electricity and collected 2 1/2 more hours of sunlight during the day. But the most interesting results were in December, when the Sun was at its lowest point in the sky. The tree design made 50% more electricity, and the collection time of sunlight was up to 50% longer!
The tree design takes up less room than flat-panel arrays and works in spots that don’t have a full southern view. It collects more sunlight in winter. Shade and bad weather like snow don’t hurt it because the panels are not flat. It even looks nicer because it looks like a tree. A design like this may work better in urban areas where space and direct sunlight can be hard to find.
This is amazing, and just makes me grin, both because of the brilliance of this kid and his experiments and the brilliance of our God who designed this amazing world. I look at this and think of Romans 1:20:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Man in the last few decades figured out how to use sunlight to directly generate electricity. In the intervening years, they’ve designed different ways to arrange the panels, even using motorized arrays that track the sun’s movements to try to get the most out of the rays. But God figured this out eons ago and created trees in a way that may look random, but is actually a clever way to maximize capturing the sun’s rays.
I imagine God looking at this ‘discovery’ and say, “Of course, that’s exactly why I did it. Why didn’t you look there sooner?”
Amazingly, the kid credits ‘evolution’ and folks at Slashdot say ‘nature’ figured this out. They are faced with the brilliance of God’s design and evidence of His supremacy compared to us, and yet fail to see Him in it.
The evidence for God is everywhere, yet most fail to see it, though it’s right under their noses – or, in this case, above their heads.