You gotta heart teenage geniuses: this one, Aidan Dwyer, age 13, figured out a way to make solar panel arrays more efficient after taking a walk in the woods. Here is his basic thought-process, broken down for us non-geniuses:

  1. Tree branches grow in a specific pattern. (It's called the Fibonacci sequence. Each number is the sum of the previous two. Sorry — too much technical detail?)
  2. Trees are also really good at absorbing sunlight.
  3. Solar panels could be placed like leaves on a structure that follows the same mathematical pattern as a tree.
  4. Would that create more energy than just a field of solar panels?
  5. Yes.

The most excellent part of this observation is that not only do tree-like solar structures harvest more energy, they harvest more energy at times of day when there's less sunlight, like early morning or late evening. Trees are the real geniuses here. But we'll also give points to Aidan for figuring this out.

Update: This is either bogus, or it isn't! Over the weekend a blogger posted a debunking of Aidan's work, then immediately deleted the post.