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Thread: Dumb Question about magnification

  1. #1 Dumb Question about magnification 
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    I ask for your forgiveness in advance.

    What would be the effect of building a huge reverse microscope, using lenses to magnify the light from the sun, in space, and then beam it down to earth in some kind of man-made lake that is covered, revealing only several holes for escaping steam which is then attached to steam engines generating electricity to be carted off around the nation. The escaping steam would be caught on a ceiling that would drain it back into the reservoir.

    In other words, the heating elements we normally use to heat water to produce steam are fuels that get used up. If a small magnifying glass can burn an ant, why can't a bigger array of lenses power a completely green energy production facility?

    Am I stupid?


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  3. #2  
    Forum Freshman Incoming Dessert's Avatar
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    Hmm... actually, the principle behind that seems sound.

    I'm not sure about how many lenses you'd need to produce that much heat though. It'd probably cost a lot. And you'd be screwed when it was cloudy or at night.


    The wise man believes half of what he reads. If he knew which half to believe, he'd be a much wiser man.
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  4. #3 Re: Dumb Question about magnification 
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZealotX
    I ask for your forgiveness in advance.

    What would be the effect of building a huge reverse microscope, using lenses to magnify the light from the sun, in space, and then beam it down to earth in some kind of man-made lake that is covered, revealing only several holes for escaping steam which is then attached to steam engines generating electricity to be carted off around the nation. The escaping steam would be caught on a ceiling that would drain it back into the reservoir.

    In other words, the heating elements we normally use to heat water to produce steam are fuels that get used up. If a small magnifying glass can burn an ant, why can't a bigger array of lenses power a completely green energy production facility?

    Am I stupid?
    In principle you can. But that is nothing more and nothing less than solar power. You are simply limited by the amount of solar energy that you can gather and use effectively.

    You don't need lenses. You can do it with mirrors. The problem is that the processes available are simply not up to the task of producing all of the energy required. But they can be a factor.

    Boiling a lake would require an impractically large lens or mirror.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Freshman Nabla's Avatar
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    A similar concept is in use already. Energy from focused sunlight is used to liberate carbon monoxide from carbon dioxide, allowing new hydrocarbons to be synthesised - the main constituents of petrol/deisel etc.

    Google "sunlight to petrol project"
    PHI is one 'H' of alot more interesting than PI!
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  6. #5  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope MagiMaster's Avatar
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    That, and the solar plants that focus sunlight onto salt filled tubes, liquefying the salt. The molten salt is then used to boil water (a tank, not a lake) which powers a turbine and is (usually, IIRC) recirculated.
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