You and I know that more than a few men have earned a Nobel Prize by the time they were 23.

The examples I’m aware of were in physics. Something similar was the point of Isaac Asimov’s short story “Mirror Image,” which I reread just last week. In it, a young man showed an older colleague something that he discovered. The older man stole the idea and was all set to present it at a convention when he was snubbed up by Asimov’s heroes, Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw. Here we all cheer at just the mention of the great robot’s name.

Although the great discoveries of many men were not appreciated for two or three decades, they eventually got their Nobel prizes. These young men did great things at an early age because they were able to think outside of the box and were not yet burdened with an excess of understanding of what can and what cannot be done.

A year ago, if you told me that the trailer park in Florida where we spent many happy winters would soon be inundated with 6 feet of water, I would have bet heavily against it. Flooding one hundred years from now, yes. Within a few months, no.

Even without science, common sense alone will tell an average adult what is and what isn’t possible, and thousands of people who lost their homes would have said a flood wasn’t possible. A difference between some facts proven by science and a flood is that many facts proven by science can be accepted by the man on the street. But there are still men in Florida who can stand up to their armpits in floodwater in their living rooms and deny that the Earth’s climate is changing.

Knowing little or nothing about the mathematics of science, when someone says that there seems to be no end to how things like solar power can be improved, I can agree.


If I were encumbered with the math, I might unequivocally state that sunshine only hits a small percentage of the Earth at any given time, and that the world will never see any meaningful improvement as a result.

So I continue to wander happily down the path of blissful ignorance, able to believe that, eventually, the few folks who find themselves here in 2222 will live in a day when even a small captured percentage of the sun’s daily rays will provide all the energy that the world needs.

By the way, looking out the window this morning I noticed that the bright, low cold winter sun was striking my solar panels at what appeared to be a 90-degree angle. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I would think that a 90-degree angle puts the most energy into the panel.

When solar guru John Burke figured out the best angle for my panel racks to be leaned up and mounted against my hen house, there was only room enough for three panels to be stacked upright, in “portrait.” But, just by luck, there was room enough to stack one more panel on top in “landscape” mode. When visitors come to see my solar power generating system, I point out the flaw in the design: When you mount a PV panel on its side, some of the electrical juice runs out on the ground.

We have been told that solar panels are able to lap up more of the sun’s power when the panels are icy cold than they can when they are warm from summer sun. Laugh at me if you will, but I am able to accept some things at face value without understanding anything about them. May Mother Nature have mercy on my lost soul.

Lest you get the mistaken impression that my mind constantly overflows with matters of great social import, know that while getting ready for bed last night, every time I tried to pull my shirt up over my head, it snapped back down. I had forgotten to take off my suspenders.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

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