13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance

Thirteen year old Aidan Dwyer was walking in the woods in Upstate New York in the winter and noticed a spiral pattern to tree branches. Aidan realized the tree branches and leaves had a mathematical spiral pattern that could be shown as a fraction. After some research he also realized the mathematical fractions were the same numbers as the Fibonacci sequence. "On the oak tree, the Fibonacci fraction is 2/5, which means that the spiral takes five branches to spiral two times around the trunk to complete one pattern. Other trees with the Fibonacci leaf arrangement are the elm tree (1/2); the beech (1/3); the willow (3/8) and the almond tree (5/13)."*

Aidan's backyard in Northport, NY.

The 7th grader next wondered why nature used such a pattern? He concluded trees do so to collect maximum sunlight. So, he constructed two side by side solar arrays - one a typical flat-panel array that was mounted at 45 degrees, and the second, a solar array based on the Fibonacci pattern of an oak tree. He put both outside facing south. To his amazement, during the month of December, the tree design made 50% more electricity, and the collection time of sunlight was up to 50% longer than the flat panel array!

Aidan discovered that the Fibonacci pattern helps deciduous trees, in higher latitudes, efficiently track the Sun and collect the most sunlight even in the thickest forest, on the cloudiest days. If an object blocks the light to a flat panel array, the array stops producing energy. But, the Fibonacci pattern allows some solar 'leaves' to collect sunlight, while some 'leaves' are in shade. Plus, the Fibonacci pattern helps the branches and leaves on a tree to avoid shading each other. Snow and debris slide off as well. Aidan is currently building tree arrays based on the other Fibonacci patterns of the elm, beech, willow and almond trees. He questions; is one pattern more efficient than another?

The American Museum of Natural History has awarded Aidan a Young Naturalist Award for 2011.

See the detailed description of his discoveries on the Museum's website: *www.amnh.org

In late 2012, early 2013, Aidan builds a larger model:

Postscript: Many have questioned why Aidan did not measure power output from the solar cells, instead he only measured voltage, without a load attached ("open circuit"). The American Museum of Natural History stands by its award.

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Showing comments 1 to 50 of 104 | Next | Last
nikke shelton
Posts: 104
energy
Reply #104 on : Thu April 25, 2013, 06:22:36
Children are a gold mine when it comes to creative thinking. Hope our educational system can nurture at a affordable tax rate. Kids are our future but I can't take another tax hike!
deodatus MZIGO
Posts: 104
discovery
Reply #103 on : Sun April 14, 2013, 13:17:01
I HAPPY TO HEAR THAT I HOPE IN THE FUTURE WE WILL MORE ENERGY ! BRAVO
Mundo
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #102 on : Fri April 12, 2013, 12:00:19
Thumbs up!
Stephen
Posts: 104
Aidan Dwyer
Reply #101 on : Tue January 08, 2013, 17:54:56
One word "WOW!!!!!!!!
Now the big question-can I buy shares in this kid's future?
Have read some of the comments all I can say again is WOW anyone taking a shot at the kid what is it that you have offered? I never even heard of Fibonacci -let alone would know how to use observations.
Anonymous
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #100 on : Fri November 23, 2012, 13:44:08
Even if this kid's experiment was a failure, at least he was thinking, and did an experiment to prove or disprove his hypothesis. This is the scientific process as executed by a 13 yr old. Kudos to him.
LONIE C.DAVIS SR.
Posts: 104
AIDAN
Reply #99 on : Thu November 22, 2012, 10:52:56
THAT ONLY GOES TO SHOW THAT WE USE SO LITTLE OF OUR MIND. MY THOUGHT WAS NOT SO MUCH AS WHY AIDAN DIDN'T TEST FOR THIS AND THAT VOLTAGE.MY THOUGHT IS A CHILD IS NOT THINKING LIKE MY 1957 BRAIN ! EVERY THING WE NEED FOR A BETTER WORLD IS HERE ! LIKE SEWAGE INTO POWER AND GOD FORBID WE END UP WITH CLEAN WATER AFTER CLEANING UP THE SEWAGE !
Vicki
Posts: 104
Reply #98 on : Mon October 22, 2012, 21:07:19
your post script suggests that someone or group of someones decided that 13 yr old Aiden did not collect enough of the right kind of data in an experiment for the 7th grade. Maybe the 13 year old in 7th grade was not aware that adults would be critiquing his work so diligently and maybe the 7th grader all of 13 years of age-so no formal collegiate studies or professional acumen needing to protect their integrity-did not realize that he would be help accountable or criticism one could expect of a professional or a collegian. but me, i think kudos to the 13 year old 7th grader who noticed something so obvious and made it work for his experiment for the 7th grade.
Mick
Posts: 104
More panels on the 'tree'
Reply #97 on : Thu September 13, 2012, 08:38:54
Many people have observed that there are a fair amount more panels on the 'tree' than on the house design and that this contributes to the higher production and not any real benefit to the design. However, as mentioned in the article this design causes many of the panels on the 'tree' to not actually be receiving sunlight at any given time whereas in regular lighting all 10 of the panels on the house will be receiving light and functioning at the same time. So while there are more total solar units on the tree design; there are likely to be relatively the same amount of solar units actually functioning at any given time.
anna
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #96 on : Wed September 05, 2012, 02:44:44
"god" had nothing to do with it. It's called science.
ryanq
Posts: 104
good job!
Reply #95 on : Sat August 25, 2012, 16:46:36
This shows not only the brilliance of a kid, but the brilliance of God, who made things just right for us. :)
Sargonarhes
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #94 on : Sun August 05, 2012, 04:47:05
Bravo to the kid for doing something that scientists do not do themselves. Actually experiments. Nicola Tesla criticized many in his era for the exact same thing, scientist instead would just work with mathematical equations on paper and in their head and believe this was how you find things out, they'd leave actual physical experiments out of it completely.
Tired of this
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #93 on : Thu August 02, 2012, 05:43:36
Ok, no hate to the 13 year old kid with a good idea, but if I stumble this stupid article on a different site one more time... !!!!
green global travel
Posts: 104
Awesome discovery and invention
Reply #92 on : Wed August 01, 2012, 03:52:46
This is a case where discovery and invention go hand -in- hand that too from a 13 year old !
MerryPrankster
Posts: 104
Kudos
Reply #91 on : Mon July 30, 2012, 19:18:35
His scientific method might be lacking a certain discipline, but his creativity and sense of wonder is amazing. I posit that by the time he is grown he will have made a real difference and contributed more than most even dream of doing. Kudos to him.
Mark
Posts: 104
Of course
Reply #90 on : Mon July 30, 2012, 02:47:54
The scientists didnt like being showed up by a kid so they will say anything to lessen the significance of his findings
Kevin
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #89 on : Sun July 29, 2012, 05:13:35
No wonder his tree collected more light, it clearly (from the picture) has twice as many cell on it. The conventional array has ten, the tree has at least 18.
AnnieMouse13
Posts: 104
13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #88 on : Sat July 28, 2012, 06:38:14
This is wonderful! So the great thing for Aidan is that since he is planning on testing other sequences, he can make improvements in his testing methods from the feedback. My understanding is the goal of scientific inquiry is to explore, test, refine, test and generally ADD to the body of knowledge.
Harry Figgers
Posts: 104
Jealous Minds
Reply #87 on : Thu July 26, 2012, 03:39:04
Aidan has discovered some critical oversights by academicia and the "professionals". These liberals can't divert attention from their obvious ignorance unless they victimize the young genius. Congratulations Aidan, extremely insightful and a grand "one-up" on the #not so# smart ones.
galo
Posts: 104
critics
Reply #86 on : Wed July 25, 2012, 16:46:20
i think it depends how young aidan takes the criticism, if he accepts criticism as constructive, more power to him.

brilliant in any case, for what it's worth, my congratulations, (!!)
Alex
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #85 on : Tue July 24, 2012, 23:09:43
Look at all these cynics. Political and religious agendas, cranky know-it-alls trying to tear down a young and curious mind. No wonder so few people go into science.

That's why people like Aidan are better than you. His experiments may not be perfect, but he is confronting the unknown with curiosity and more rigor than any 13-year-old I'm aware of. Unlike you, he doesn't assume he knows the answer. He tries to figure it out.

That's the spirit of discovery. I wish millions of other kids had it.
truthseeker
Posts: 104
EVOLUTION
Reply #84 on : Tue July 24, 2012, 22:11:13
Wow! Evolution is an amazing thing! To think that trees just started as roots, but developed a need for a trunk, as so through selective pollination evolved to have trunks. But then they developed a need for branches, and so evolved to have branches. But then they needed leaves, and miniature solar panels on leaves that could convert sunlight to energy via photosynthesis! Little power plants...(no pun intended) that is truly amazi....wait, what? You mean to tell me that trees evolved? As if a root could survive without a trunk to support branches and hold leaves upward toward the sun to harvest sunlight. But without the leaves, and without the leaves' capability of complex photosynthesis, the whole tree would cease to exist.
This leads me to question whether my nostrils evolved first, my respiratory system or my lung's ability to breathe oxygen, which these trees just so happen to produce.
Maybe my mouth evolved first, and had to purpose for millions of years until my esophagus developed, which had no purpose until my stomach evolved and then my need for food, and millions of years later I needed a way to expel waste, so my digestive system..so on and so forth.
You mean people still actually believe in evolution? Stop seeing with your eye deviod of a conscience. Start seeing through your eye with your conscience! The micro/macro deception is real. But hey, as long as we can write life off as being meaningless, that means we don't have to hold ourselves to any moral standard, or we can make our own. Seek the truth and it shall set you free.
Me
Posts: 104
Fake!
Reply #83 on : Mon July 23, 2012, 11:13:50
The tree-design hadf ca. 2times more elements.
Alex
Posts: 104
ViHart
Reply #82 on : Sat July 21, 2012, 18:56:25
As much as i would like to believe that he did this on his own i feel like he would have heard about this somewhere and then just gone into further thought about it. One such place (where i originally saw plants and Fibonacci together) is from ViHarts blog. http://vihart.com/blog/doodling-fibonacci-1/
Anonymous
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #81 on : Fri July 20, 2012, 23:47:30
Remember it has been more than one hundred years since Albert Einstein developed the physics explaining how the photovoltaic cell works--the photoelectric effect. Thus began quantum theory. It will be at least three hundred more years before another person with the same intellect walks on this planet.
Brian DeKorte
Posts: 104
Reply #80 on : Fri July 20, 2012, 14:30:33
There are 10 cells on the house that you can see. I'm willing to bet there are 10 on the other side as well for a total of 20 cells on the house. it looks like there are about 20 on the tree. the other 10 cells would obviously not collect as much light, but i'm just sayin.
Glen
Posts: 104
He used more panels on the tree
Reply #79 on : Fri July 20, 2012, 13:12:28
He used more panels on the tree. The flat panel would collect more power if it had the same number of panels as the tree.
Jack
Posts: 104
?
Reply #78 on : Sun July 08, 2012, 00:02:15
he used more panels on the tree than the house
James
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #77 on : Fri July 06, 2012, 00:17:20
OK so I just posted here, but want to again after reading what others have posted.

And to legitimize my words I would like to say that I am a Mechanical Engineer Technologist.

The Purpose of Science is to Explore the Natural World from all angles. This kid has gone to much more intellectual depths than any 13 year old I have yet to encounter. his EXPERIMENT is indeed up to PROFESSIONAL SCRUTINY, and needs to be further studied. but the Fibonacci sequence has appeared in nature time and time again and most bio-mimetic engineers use it as a starting point. so don't knock the kid so much just because you have spent most of your life glued to the web. let his LEGITIMATE EXPERIMENT stand the TEST OF SCIENTIFIC SCRUTINY before you judge offhandedly.
Anonymous
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #76 on : Fri July 06, 2012, 00:01:35
When Fibonacci came up with the math that is expressed here, he called it the (and I paraphrase here because I don't remember the exact words) equation that describes God. Now, I am Pro Science, not Pro God, as anyone who is close to me can support. but this article supports why a SCIENTIST would believe in the concept of a God-based universe.
Anonymous
Posts: 104
Awesome!
Reply #75 on : Sat June 30, 2012, 13:15:23
I find it interesting that all the comments knocking this kid are from adults. Imagine you are 13 again and looking at what's he's discovered. Don't be so cynical. If he is doing this at 13, by the time he gets to your age he's going to make most of you look like you have chopped spam between the ears. I say well done Aidan, keep up the good work and we'll be hearing more from you I'm sure!
Joe Swanson
Posts: 104
Nice
Reply #74 on : Wed June 27, 2012, 18:08:42
Great insight for a 13 year old. He displays an intellectual maturity much greater than most his age. However, there is nothing novel about this. This would be an extremely well-thought out science fair project, but he did not "realize" the Fibonacci sequence. The Fibonacci sequence is nothing more than a simple mathematical ratio that has been known for centuries. This very design has been built in much more complex and efficient structures that he could've read about by googling "solar powered tree." Definitely has the makings of a young, insightful scientist, but don't get excited because someone can use google for another other than porn at 13.
MarkyPie
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #73 on : Fri June 22, 2012, 09:46:53
There also seems to be twice as many cells in his tree structure which is bound to produce more power (or voltage which is what he measured, depending on whether he connected the cells in series or parallel)

But at least the kid is thinking outside the box and I'm sure that he must be on to something. Plants must have evolved to be like that for a reason.
Javier
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #72 on : Tue June 19, 2012, 22:06:13
At thirteen I was able to play Nintendo and build......buy some toys.
annie
Posts: 104
nature and solar
Reply #71 on : Fri June 08, 2012, 13:11:30
its been staring us in the face...Aidan is a true wonderer and a discoverer of natures power to survive.
Michael
Posts: 104
Solar Cell
Reply #70 on : Fri May 25, 2012, 02:09:55
For everyone stating what power is, you are mostly wrong. Power=Voltage*Current fyi. And there is no possible way that a panel oriented in random directions on a fake tree structure would capture as many photons as a fixed single panel oriented at a tilt angle of that of the latitude of the location of the panel.
Anonymous
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #69 on : Tue May 22, 2012, 01:53:12
Is no one else concerned about why there were still leaves on these deciduous trees in the winter in upstate NY?
Anonymous
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #68 on : Sat May 05, 2012, 02:54:32
I am yet to read one accurate description of the concept of voltage, current or power from the comments below. God bless America.
Jean-Claude St. Clair
Posts: 104
RE:Too infinitely complex to be random or formed by an explosion
Reply #67 on : Thu May 03, 2012, 18:06:46
You are over simplifying a very complex process. This is the result of millions of years of evolution. Crack open a science book.

Je vous prie d'agréer,
Jean-Claude
Anonymous
Posts: 104
Too infinitely complex to be random or formed by an explosion
Reply #66 on : Mon April 30, 2012, 14:14:21
And this alone is proof that there HAS to be a higher existence that made all of this.. it's simply FAR too complex to have happened by Chance or some random explosion.
Interested
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #65 on : Mon April 30, 2012, 12:51:25
THE KID IS 13 PEOPLE!! I hope he digs more into this and gets rich off the patent! Regardless of the amps vs. voltage arguement, unique experiments need to be retested to prove the results. When was the last time anyone did someone new, perfectly, the first time? I'm sure lessons were learned and future tests will satisfy the critics!
Anonymous
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #64 on : Mon April 30, 2012, 06:59:55
I like how people like to say, oh he is 13 he could have never done any of this stuff. Why? Because YOU couldn't do stuff like that? When I was 13 I was taking apart electronics seeing how they worked and putting them back together. It's called being more educated, simply because you didn't have such a good education doesn't mean everyone else didn't.
Electronics major
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #63 on : Mon April 30, 2012, 06:56:38
To all of the people saying his results don't show more power, you are incorrect. volts are the amount of power there are while current is the ease and speed of the energy, hence why it is called CURRENT. It is also why we rate batteries on their VOLTAGE not their amperage. Yes it is the amperage that will kill someone at a much lower number, but this is because of its speed the body can't keep up. Voltage can kill you but it will need a very high voltage to do so, this is also why we have high voltage warnings. Remember Amperage is the result voltage divided by the resistance (Ohms law).
Eugene
Posts: 104
I wonder if...
Reply #62 on : Sun April 29, 2012, 21:44:06
If the Fibonacci pattern were also incorporated into a vertical windmill, also generating electricity, could the output be increased?
joe
Posts: 104
this guy
Reply #61 on : Sun April 29, 2012, 20:50:14
gimp
Anonymous
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #60 on : Sun April 29, 2012, 11:50:39
Not-An-Idiot
Posts: 104
Re: 13 year old copies Nature to Improve Solar Performance
Reply #59 on : Sat April 28, 2012, 13:39:33
Oh crap someone's disproving a scientific test, lets just call them trolls and tell them to get a life...
Nelbertq
Posts: 104
Reply #58 on : Sat April 28, 2012, 07:59:59
To Dan about Reply 54: yes current is that which kills but voltage is the energy (energy per unit charge).
In a further test, it would be useful to plot both voltage and current (the product of which is power).
To Cool-Proxy.net: nice armchair quarterbacking. The logic you seemed to miss is the construction based on the Fibonacci series - the pattern found in tree leaves. So the idea was to see if nature's design was efficient and if that efficiency might me replicated in the design.
Mfd78
Posts: 104
Ummm...
Reply #57 on : Sat April 28, 2012, 05:17:19
Isn't the "tree" just getting more reflected light from the wall?
Cool-proxy.net
Posts: 104
Cool-proxy.net
Reply #56 on : Fri April 27, 2012, 17:04:32
Nice to hear that young generation is thinking and experimenting. Of course the boy did the experiment wrong (at least the results are wrong and there is no logic behind them), but it's nice that he's trying. It takes only a lot of trying to figure out something ingenious.
Tone
Posts: 104
What I was doing in 7th grade
Reply #55 on : Fri April 27, 2012, 13:18:58
Pretty amazing considering what most 7th graders do these days
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