Sun Power (Jun, 1935)

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Sun Power

SCIENTISTS for some years have been conducting surveys on the sun’s radiation, to see how it fluctuates. A daily and seasonal variation is found, separate and distinct from the seasons caused by the earth’s own motion. In the dry, cloudless regions where this is done, practically the whole intensity of the sun is received through dry, thin air; and objects placed “in the sun” become very hot. Accordingly, these men, like Dr. Abbot, of the Smithsonian Institution, or the Russian scientists working in Turkestan, have built conveniences to utilize a little of the surplus energy they are working on, for heating water, cooking, etc. The Tashkend, Central Asia, group, recently published in Russian magazines a proposal for utilizing the sun’s rays at low cost— not for electric power, but for heating rooms, cooking, and providing hot water. Tanks, with black surfaces, properly insulated, and turned full toward the sun, will heat water almost to boiling.

It is interesting to compare the proposed solar heaters, revolving to face the sun, with a project of, supposedly, the year 2660, which appeared twenty-four years ago in a novel written by the Editor of this magazine, and entitled “Ralph 124C 41 + .” The illustration, part of which is reproduced here, shows a field of sun-power devices, rotating to face the sun, in a field electrically rid of fog and moisture.

  1. Rick Auricchio says: August 26, 20119:30 am

    Some may remember Solar One and Solar Two in California’s Mojave Desert, which used this scheme.…

  2. Sean says: August 26, 201111:28 am

    I’m looking forward to seeing the title article from this issue.

  3. Hirudinea says: August 26, 201112:26 pm

    @ Rick Auricchio – I was going to say that, the illustration does remind me of those projects, and it also looks like they demolished Paris to use the Eiffel Tower as solar collector, as if we need a reason to demolish Paris! đŸ™‚

  4. John Savard says: August 27, 201110:30 am

    The illustration was, as the article notes, from Ralph 124C41+. Since it was written in 1911, the Eiffel Tower seemed to be a sensible model for the tall structures of the future. Anyways, this inspired me to search the Web for information about that early science-fiction story.

  5. jayessell says: August 28, 20117:14 am

    I looked for the story also.
    I could buy a physical copy on Amazon.
    I was hoping for a downloadable version.
    I see two other Gernsbeck novels/short stories for $4 each.
    Google books has an incomplete copy.

    (You understand… the story isn’t very good.
    It’s only draw is its’ 100th anniversary!

  6. Richard says: August 29, 20113:07 pm

    I thought it was the Eiffel tower, too, but then I noticed two more towers in the distance with the same architecture. I think John’s right when he suggests the sci fi illustrators were just using Eiffel’s design to connote “big futuristic tower”.

  7. Charlie says: August 29, 20113:19 pm

    There is a SciFi novel called Olympos by Dan Simmons which features an Eiffel-Bahn. Basically a giant world-girdling cable car system strung between thousands of Eiffel towers.

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