The Abstract Podcast

Solar storms, anti-solar panels, and the future of clean energy

In this episode, we discuss what the Sun’s energy is capable of — and how solar power technology can improve on its limitations.

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For as long as the Sun has existed, so has solar energy. The yellow dwarf star makes it possible for life to exist on Earth, and without its heat, our planet would freeze. And even though it’s over 90 million miles away, its gravitational pull keeps our planet in orbit.

Hacking into the Sun’s energy with scientific precision, solar power innovations allow us to absorb light from the Sun and transform it into electricity. In short, the Sun? Very powerful.

But as energetic as the Sun is, it’s only available half of the time. Even under the cloak of night, scientists have found new ways to optimize the Sun’s energy. From solar water to Sun-powered cars and anti-solar panels, researchers are leveraging the Sun’s infinite potential and building a more efficient future of solar energy.

In this episode of The Abstract, we discuss what the Sun’s energy is capable of — and how solar power technology can improve on its limitations.

Our first story takes a closer look at the Sun’s powerful magnetic forces. Controlling space weather with flare-ups that are ejected into outer space, the Sun’s coronal mass ejections, high-speed solar wind, and solar flares are an intense burst of radiation. It turns out, these storms have no real effect on us on Earth, nor will they disrupt Earth's magnetic field. Instead, they teach us about our elusive star and its lifecycle.

Our second story is about solar power’s inefficiencies. With a look at how energy harvesters reworked solar panel technology to improve on the Sun’s limitations, anti-solar energy picks up where daytime solar panels leave off — and may one day be the future of sustainable energy.

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Right now, facts and science matter more than ever. That's part of the reason for The Abstract, this all-new podcast from the Inverse staff that focuses exclusively on science and innovation. Three new episodes are released a week, and each covers one theme via two related stories. Each features audio of original Inverse reporting, where the facts and context take center stage. It's hosted by the Tanya Bustos of WSJ Podcasts. Because we're Inverse, it's all true but slightly off-kilter. It's made for people who want to know the whole story. Nick Lucchesi, executive editor, Inverse