Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Price for the Sun

Although the Sun does not generate a uniform amount of light throughout it's life and will continue to slowly brighten until it's death, about 5 billion years from now, we can still roughly estimate how much light will be produced between now and it's end and determine, in terms of energy costs, how much it would likely set one back to buy the Sun.

5.6216744275618786699008 X 10^40 joules of energy will be released in the form of light, by the Sun, in the next 5 billion years. Only one billionth of that energy will actually impact the Earth, so if our future successors require more energy, they might consider building a Dyson Sphere around our star.

This amount of eventual energy leaving the Sun can be converted to kilowatt hours (kWh) which registers:
1.561576229878299630528 X 10^34 kWh
If I were to expend this much energy at my home in the next month, the electric company would bill me approximately 2.1081279103357045012128 X 10^33 dollars, which although not very accurate for an estimate, people of today could reasonable expect to pay this, if the Sun were for sale.

I once heard that the combined sale price for everything on the surface of the Earth would be 1.0 X 10^15 dollars. That's quite a difference.

Slowly Going Green

I bought a 1 watt solar panel for 30 dollars, tie wrapped it to the end of a long PVC pipe with T connector end, sharpened the other end into a point with a hacksaw, and finally drove it 1 foot into the ground in my backyard, where it will tap the sun's free energy and supply power to my small battery / inverter setup.

Considering that the assembly produces only 1 joule per second and there is only 12 hour sunlight exposure per day (multiplied by the squareroot of two divided by 2 - to obtain the average intensity), only 30,547 joules per day of energy are extracted. Now also, assuming that the price for electricity is currently 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour (in my area) or 1 cent for 266,667 joules, the solar panel would have to gather sunlight for about 71 years before the enough money was saved to justify paying the 30 dollar panel price. Since 71 years is far beyond the expected lifespan of my radiant energy to electricity converter, no profit will ever be provided.

The lesson?... Do not buy 1 watt panels for 30 dollars. While there are much better solutions out there, such as more space efficient models, higher wattages, and longer functional lifetimes, they still seem to be too expensive for the majority of us energy users. Apparently, 60% efficiency has been developed but isn't readily available at the moment and also requires a more intense light source to reach it's peak performance.

Since 130,131,352,486,171,736 watts of sunlight are available on Earth at any particular moment, sunlight will inevitably become our primary source of energy.

Sexual Reproduction

Presently, thousands of processor intensive generations are required to amount to even the most modest variation in survival instincts. A proposed solution, sexual reproduction, stolen directly from the biological world, might allow a remedy. Sex, which is the process of mixing and recombining of multiple individuals' genetic construction codes, could substancially improve the efficiency of the Evolution Machine Experiment by helping to expand diversity between generations and spread advantageous traits, while simultaneously preventing the propogation of negative attributes.

In principle, gender differences are not required for the process of sex, however due to differences in selection pressure between the genetic sending and receiving sides, sexual dimorphism is likely to develop. It is offen incorrectly thought that a sexually reproducing species always consists of two modes - male and female. However, without dimorphism, there would be only one type and in more unusual instances of life on Earth, occassionally there are organisms that effectively have three or more genders. By adding such mechanisms into the experiment of evolution, new behaviors will emerge, such as genetic information sharing and possibly sexual rejection if the artificial organism perceives it's potential mate as incompentant.