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Solar Dyes Give A Guiding Light

A new way capturing the energy from the Sun could increase the power generated by solar panels tenfold, a team of American scientists has shown.

Current solar plants need large mobile mirrors to produce energy

The new technique involves coating glass with a specific mixture of transparent dyes which redirect light to photovoltaic cells in the frame.

The technology, outlined in the journal Science, could be used to convert glass buildings into vast energy plants.

The technology could be in production within three years, the team said.

"It makes sense to coat the side of [very tall] buildings with these new panes," Professor Marc Baldo, one of the researchers on the team, told BBC News. "It's not far fetched at all."

Colour trick

The most advanced attempts to generate large amounts of electricity via the Sun require the use of a solar concentrator.

These are often bulky mobile mirrors that work by tracking the progress of the Sun and concentrating its beams on the cell at its heart.

But there are downsides to this technology: the cells at the centre have to be constantly cooled, and each concentrator requires a large amount of space to avoid shadowing its neighbour.

Organic solar concentrator
The technology collects and focuses different colours of sunlight

The new technology does away with the need for mirrors and mobility.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) team has found a way to coat panes of glass or plastic with a mixture of several dyes that essentially do the same job.

"What we have is a piece of glass, with a very thin layer of paint or dye on top," explained Professor Baldo.

"The light comes in and hits the dye and which absorbs it and re-emits the light, but now it's inside the glass so it bounces along there until it gets to the edge. So you only need to mount the solar cells around the edge."

The idea was first developed in the 1970s but was abandoned because much of the light energy was lost en route to the cell.

But using its expertise in optical techniques and a specific mixture of dyes, the MIT team has found a way to make the light travel much farther without losing as much energy along the way.

Window future

"When you do this there is a little bit of energy loss with the dye," said Professor Baldo.

"The main benefit is with the cost. You use a far smaller amount of solar cells. For the same area of solar cells, you get much more electricity."

Existing solar installations could also benefit from the new concentrator, he said.

"You could take this new kind of glass and put it on top of an existing solar cell so the cell still generates electricity but this glass pane with the dye on top captures a certain part of the spectrum and converts it more efficiently than the solar cell would do on its own."

The MIT team believes it could improve existing panels by 50%.

In addition, the system is simple to manufacture, requiring little more than to coat glass or plastic with the combination of dyes. It could be in production within three years, the researchers believe.

If that becomes a reality, one obvious application, they said, was converting windows into energy plants.

"The coated glass would let through about 10% of the Sun to light up the room, and the remainder would be captured and funnelled to the edges to solar cells to generate electricity," said Professor Baldo.

"It would look like smoked glass because of the dyes."

Graphic explains how new solar technology works
1. First solar concentrator coated with transparent dyes absorbs sunlight and transmits it to glass panel edge
2. High voltage solar cells on edge of glass capture sunlight.
3. Low voltage solar cells trap light escaping through first panel.
4. The first panel can also be used alone as a window pane. In the future, glass buildings could produce their own electrical energy.

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Bishop 'Ready To Defect To Rome'

An Anglican bishop has said he is prepared to convert to Roman Catholicism after the General Synod voted to allow women bishops.

Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Right Reverend Andrew Burnham

The traditionalist Bishop of Ebbsfleet has asked the Pope, as well as Catholic leaders in England and Wales, to help him and his parishes defect to Rome.

The Right Reverend Andrew Burnham said objectors within the Church of England were feeling "shipwrecked".

He said: "We are floating in the water looking for someone to rescue us."

A Church of England group is drawing up a code of practice to reassure critics after the Synod vote earlier this week.

The Synod voted in favour of consecrating women and against safeguards demanded by traditionalists opposed to the move.

If you are in the water you just hope that help will come, you can't actually engage in the luxury of wondering what form the help will come in
The Rt Rev Andrew Burnham

Following the vote the Vatican said the result would create an "obstacle" to reconciliation between Anglicans and Catholics.

The Roman Catholic church does not ordain women.

Writing in the Catholic Herald the bishop called for "magnanimous gestures from our Catholic friends, especially from the Holy Father, who well understand our longing for unity and from the hierarchy in England and Wales".

"Most of all we ask for ways that allow us to bring our folk with us," he wrote.

Bishop Burnham hopes entire parishes under his care will convert but be allowed to remain worshipping in their existing churches under the supervision of Catholic bishops.

He told BBC Radio Four's The World at One he did not know what form the help would take, but was awaiting a response from Rome.

"If you are in the water you just hope that help will come, you can't actually engage in the luxury of wondering what form the help will come in."

'Sexist ghettos'

When asked if he had considered converting to Roman Catholicism he said: "That would be me, on my own, doing what might be right for me. I have a care for people who are trying to live out conscientiously the Catholic faith as they understand it, within the Church of England.

"That is becoming increasingly difficult, and will become impossible, and I want to help them as well."

But he said ultimately people would have to make individual decisions "because no one becomes a Catholic as part of a group".

The Church of England's draft of the code of practice will be put before the General Synod in February.

Bishop Burnham said some objectors would no doubt take part in the discussions.

"But we are not objecting to women as such, we are objecting to the way the Church of England decides to make decisions on behalf of the Church.

"It's a very small fragment of the Church... and we say that it that it simply doesn't have the authority to make fundamental changes in the Bible, in the sacraments, in the creeds or in the ministry."

He said all a code of practice can provide is "sexist ghettos" in which people could "engage in (their) own prejudices", which he said was not their objective.

They had all "prayed for clarity" with the vote, he said.

"In the end you can't both have women bishops and not have women bishops. You've either got to decide to have them or not."

"What happens to people like me who believe the Church can't make that decision? What do you do if you are playing in a game of football and someone picks up the ball and runs?

"They've changed the game. The game in a sense is over and you have to see what to do next."

A final vote on the issue of women bishops is still several years away.

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Mamma Mia The Verdict

Film fans give their verdict on Mamma Mia! the movie

EXCLUSIVE MAMMA MIA! Fans' verdict on the movie

It's as camp as a row of tents and cheesier than a kilo of camembert. After months of hype, Mamma Mia! finally hit cinema screens yesterday leaving Abba obsessives in raptures.

An all-star cast, including Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan, a flipping fabulous soundtrack and the Greek island of Skopelos, perhaps the most perfect setting for a film. What could go wrong?

Er, plenty, actually. I've always loved Abba's music. My mum used to sing Chiquitita and Waterloo to me when I was little.

Dancing Queen has been a staple of my girlie nights out (oh how we laughed at the line "you are the dancing queen, only 17" while frequenting drinking establishments underage).

I Have A Dream narrowly missed being No.1 in the charts when I was born - kept off the top spot by Pink Floyd's Another Brick In The Wall.

A fact my Floyd fan dad is very proud of but something that has niggled away at my Abba-diehard mum ever since.

Through my grunge, indie and hippy phases, Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid have been my guilty pleasure.

However, I'm a bit of a sceptic when it comes to these sorts of musicals. I adore the traditional shows-West Side Story, Chicago and Oklahoma.

It's the We Will Rock Yous, Tonight's The Nights and Mamma Mias of this world I can't bear, with their clunky storylines, desperately contrived to fit around the music.

Nevertheless, if you switch off your brain as you walk through the cinema doors, then Mamma Mia's not that bad.

Particularly if you remember to put your earplugs in every time poor old tone-deaf Pierce Brosnan does his very best impression of strangling a cat.

And the scene where the stag night boys strut their stuff in their flippers along the pier to Lay All Your Love is pure genius.

The bodies of the younger cast members are gorgeous - waxed pecs, deep tans and rippling torsos as far as the eye can see.

And lead girl Amanda Seyfried is enchanting as Sophie.

Meryl Streep steals the show with one single scene on the morning of her daughter's wedding. If that doesn't bring a lump to your throat then, goddammit, you have a heart of stone.

And the negatives?

The normally brilliant Julie Walters turning into a complete ham and overacting to the point where I feared she was about to spontaneously combust.

The sometimes excruciating attempts by certain cast members to hold a tune.

And the fact that brain switched off or not, there's only so much daftness and total implausibility a girl can take.

Despite the flaws, fellow cinemagoers were, on the whole, impressed.

David Vaguar, 33, said: "It was great. Meryl Streep deserves an Oscar." Steady on, Dave.

Peter Borer was celebrating his 61st birthday with wife Christine, 59. He said: "Our feet were itching to dance in the aisles. I've read how much fun they had making it. I think you can tell they had a ball."

Sisters Orlanda and Matilda Elliott admitted they were fairly cynical going in, but came out Abba converts.

"It's very cheesy," said Orlanda, 24. "But it's good, clean fun - we liked it."

And Abba fanatics Sandro Mattos and Alex Klein loved it so much they wanted to go back in and watch the next showing.

"We laughed, cried, sang and danced," said Alex. "I've seen the musical on stage but the film is even better."

Abba fans will love it. But two hours of classic tracks being coldbloodedly murdered by Pierce, Meryl and Julie?

No, thanks. I'd rather whack on my Abba Gold CD, listen to the songs performed as they were originally intended and dance around like a lunatic in the privacy of my own living room.

Superfan's view

Vaughan Davies, 46, is the UK representative of the official international Abba fan club.

I've seen the film twice already - at the London and Stockholm premieres - and I can't wait to see it again, it's fabulous. The location is stunning, the cast amazing and the movie weaves in what is admittedly a feeble storyline better than the stage show.

There's something for everyone to relate to. The single mum, the gay guy, the teenage traumas - it's very reflective. I've loved Abba since 1974. I stuck with them through the 80s when they weren't cool.

My wife Gina is a heavy metal fan so you couldn't get two more different tastes in music!

It's time for feelgood music to make a comeback. Everyone's feeling the pinch and this movie will lift them out of the doldrums.

Thank you for the music - Our writers' favourite Abba hits

Polly Hudson: Knowing Me, Knowing You

The best Abba song? Without a doubt Knowing Me, Knowing You.

Three reasons. One: How brilliant bitter songwriter got his future ex-wife to sing: "We just have to face it this time, we're through".

Two: The turning faces to the side thing in the video.

Three: Without it, Alan Partridge might never have been. A-ha!

Jim Shelley: The Winner Takes It All

An anthem to divorce, this had an awesomely, gloriously depressing video. It's like the whole of Ingmar Bergman's career in miniature. Best of all, this is the Abba song that nobody can make you dance to.

Danielle Lawler: Dancing Queen

This song reminds me of my first nightclub, the Paradox.

I still have fond memories of hearing the song start and all my friends running to the dance floor to create a circle, handbags on floor, drinks in hand - thinking we looked like Dancing Queens. We'd point at each other, screaming, sorry, singing, 'You can dance, You can jive' having the time of our lives taking turns turns to show off our moves in the centre. Horrific images I know, but we thought we looked great.

Brian Reade: Waterloo

Thank You For The Music fills my soul with joy. It was the song Dave Lee Travis played while committing Radio 1 hari-kari - resigning on air.

But because buttocks have never filled powder-blue trousers so sensually or beige platformed boots swayed so erotically it has to be Waterloo. Shame they had beards.

Kevin Maguire: Money Money Money

It's a rich man's world today more than it was in the 70s and 80s.

But back then I sang Money Money Money as a mock anthem - it's Abba with the slightest of political edges. People did seem to work all night and all day to pay the bills.

And though I didn't want to get "a wealthy man", a wealthy woman would have been nice!

Original Source :

More Than 75% Of UK Motorists To See Car Tax Hike

More than three-quarters of car-owners estimate they will be worse off under the controversial new road tax rates, according to a poll conducted by This is Money.

In response to the question 'How will the car tax changes affect you?', 77% said their car tax will increase when the new rates are introduced in 2010.

The figure is considerably higher than official estimates, which have already rubbished ministers' claims that the vehicle excise duty overhaul - sold in the Budget as a green policy - would have little impact on motorists.


The Treasury yesterday admitted that almost half of the UK's car owners will be up to £245 worse off under the plans, while only 18% will see their tax fall. In May, Gordon Brown said that 'the majority of drivers will benefit from it'.

Only 7% of the 2,307 respondents to This is Money's poll said they would see a fall in their tax.

The Treasury said that from April 2010 it will cost more to keep 43% of all cars on the road - some 9,423,450 vehicles. The figures show that 1m drivers of cars registered between 2001 and 2006 will see road tax jump from £210 to either £430 or £455 depending on emissions, while others face hikes of between £10 and £155.

Meanwhile, just 4m cars out of the 22m on the road will see the price of a tax disc fall. Owners of the remaining 39% - 8,546,850 cars - will pay the same. Of This is Money readers, 16% said they will be unaffected.

The new regime starts to kick in next year but the biggest changes will hit in 2010 - weeks before the likely date of the next General Election.

However, the Treasury revelations have stoked discontent among Labour backbenchers, which threatens to turn into a full-scale rebellion. And the policy suffered another blow today when Gordon Brown's green guru pointedly failed to back it.

Lord Turner, who chairs the committee which advises the Government on climate change, stressed that environmental taxes should be 'intelligently designed' and signalled well in advance so people could change their lifestyle to avoid them.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, former CBI chief Lord Turner of Ecchinswell, backed green taxes to address global warming and praised Labour's 'showroom' tax but significantly did not offer support for VED rises for older cars.

While repeatedly stressing that he did not want to comment on the current row on environmental levies, he said: 'The ones least controversial are always the ones that people feel they can avoid because they come at a point of decision.

'For instance, one of the things that the Chancellor did in this year's Budget was to increase this first year VED distinction so when you buy a car it goes up to £900 for a big gas guzzler and a very low figure for a small car.

'That one is reasonable and uncontroversial. As much as possible, we should set these things out in advance. Looking forward over the long term, we certainly do see a role for intelligently designed taxes such as firstyear VED to encourage people to make the different decisions that they can make.'

MPs are calling for Mr Brown to perform yet another U-turn and make the road tax increases apply to new cars, so people can choose a greener model and pay lower VED, rather than hitting cars up to seven years old that people already own.

Original Source :

Russia Accuses British Diplomat Of Spying

Russia has accused a British diplomat based in Moscow of spying.

He was named in media reports as Chris Bowers.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "I can confirm that a member of the British staff is suspected of spying by the Russians. He is the acting director of UK Trade and Industry. However we do not comment on intelligence matters."

The allegation follows weeks of antagonism and growing tension between London and Moscow.

An unnamed source within Russia's intelligence services is said to have accused Mr Bowers of being a high-ranking secret service officer and to have claimed he worked undercover in the 1990s as a BBC reporter in Uzbekistan.

Russia news agency Interfax reported the source as saying: "The activities of Christopher Bowers, a counsellor at the British Embassy in Russia, and probably, simultaneously a senior officer with British Intelligence, are giving rise to questions among Russian intelligence services."

It was claimed Mr Bowers had been engaged in "suspicious" meetings with activists from the North Caucasus, including Chechnya.

The Times reports the decision to single out Mr Bowers may be linked to the struggle for the Anglo-Russian oil giant TNK-BP.

The newspaper claims British security officials have voiced fears that Russia's intelligence services may have flooded London with agents.

Relations between Britain and Russia have been frosty since the killing of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who died in a London hospital on November 23, 2006 from radiation poisoning.

Andrei Lugovoy, a former associate of Mr Litvinenko, is believed to be a main suspect in his murder.

The British government has repeatedly demanded that the Russian authorities hand over Mr Lugovoy, without success.

On Monday, Gordon Brown held a testy meeting with Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in which they failed to make progress across a range of issues which have blighted Anglo-Russian relations, including the killing of Mr Litvinenko.

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Free Slurpee Day!

Today COULD be the best day ever! We already know that today is “Cow Appreciation Day” but I just learned that today is “Free Slurpee Day.” Makes sense since today is July 11 or 7-11.

From what I read 7-Eleven will be handing out special 7.11 ounce Slurpee cups for the occasion and be offering a new flavor “Black Ice” which features Monster Energy Drink, which happens to be my 3rd favorite energy drink behind Amp and Full Throttle.

So check out 7-Eleven’s site for a location to pick one up!

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