When Granddad Threatens To Harness The Power Of The Sun

Nat Geo 9/48

I don’t know anything about machines, so that looks like a cross between one of my mixing bowls (which reminds me, I need to make tuna salad tonight) and a hubcap, next to some cans of motor oil. It is, in fact, a solar-powered steam engine built by noted astrophysicist Dr. Charles G. Abbot. As any fool can see, the reflector focuses the sun’s rays on the boiler tube, which generates steam that drives the tiny engine. No duh.

But Abbot was smarter than the whole lot of us, retiring as both the director of the Smithsonian’s Astrophysical Observatory, as well as the first Smithsonian Secretary not to die in office. Furthermore, it appeared that he might never die out of office, as the bloke who was already 76 in the above image still yet had another quarter century to fiddle around with gadgets. He spent over 40 years developing and maintaining solar monitoring systems as his mission in life. Here you see him (in an almost Chester Conklin mustache) with his silver-disc pyrheliometer, which measured direct beam solar irradiance.

He invented the solar cooker, which was first built at Mount Wilson Observatory, the solar boiler, and held fifteen other patents related to solar energy. At 96, he was still going strong, holding what appears to be an extensive CVS receipt, but is actually a print-out of solar observations.

wikipedia

My observation: it’s hot.

7 thoughts on “When Granddad Threatens To Harness The Power Of The Sun

Observation and Interpretation:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s