2019 World Solar Challenge update #2


Western Sydney University, after finishing WSC 2017 (picture credit)

Here is a new update on the 53 teams (27 Challengers, 25 Cruisers, and 1 Adventure car) aiming for the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia this coming October. Few teams have any significant news to report at this stage, so this is my best understanding of the current team status.

By special request, all links in this post now open in a new tab or page, depending on your browser (I would welcome feedback on whether this is an improvement):

AU  Adelaide University 

Challenger (Lumen II) – existing car.

AU  ATN Solar Car Team 

Cruiser (new team: see my team bio) – they have manufactured several parts of the car interior.

AU  Australian National University 

Challenger (new car: MTAA Gnowee) – no details as yet.

AU  Flinders University 

Cruiser (Investigator Mark III) – existing car.

AU  Swinburne Solar Team 

Cruiser (new team) – they appear to be building their first solar car.

AU  TAFE SA 

Cruiser (SAV) – existing car.

AU  Team Arrow 

Cruiser (ArrowSTF) – their commercial arm, Prohelion, is selling power packages.

AU  University of New South Wales / Sunswift 

Cruiser (Violet) – they set a record for lowest energy consumption driving trans-Australia (Perth to Sydney).

AU  Western Sydney Solar Team 

Challenger (Unlimited 2.0) – they won the American Solar Challenge with this car last year, and will be making further improvements.


photo: Anthony Dekker

BE  Punch Powertrain Solar Team 

Challenger (new car) – they have some (top secret) production moulds.

CA  ETS Quebec (Eclipse) 

Challenger (Éclipse X) – they came an excellent 3rd in the ASC, 102 minutes behind Western Sydney.

CA  University of Toronto (Blue Sky) 

Challenger (new car: Viridian) – they plan to unveil the new car in July.

CL  Antakari Solar Team 

Challenger (new car: Intikallpa V) – no news on the new design as yet.

CL  Eolian AutoSolar 

Cruiser (new car: Auriga ) – no news on the new design as yet.

DE  Bochum University of Applied Sciences 

Cruiser (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

DE  Sonnenwagen Aachen 

Challenger (new car) – no details as yet.

HK  Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education 

Cruiser (Sophie VI) – existing car.

IN  R.V. College of Engineering 

Challenger (new car) – no details as yet.

IN  SolarMobil Manipal 

Cruiser (SM-S2) – existing car.

IT  Futuro Solare Onlus 

Cruiser (new car: Archimede 2.0) – they have an exciting design concept.

IT  Onda Solare 

Cruiser (Emilia 4) – they won the American Solar Challenge (Cruiser class) last year.

JP  Kogakuin University 

Challenger (new car) – they have officially announced their participation.

JP  Nagoya Institute of Technology 

Challenger (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

JP  Tokai University 

Challenger (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

KR  Kookmin University Solar Team 

Challenger (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

MY  EcoPhoton / UiTM 

Challenger (new car: Tigris) – no news on the new design as yet.

MA  Mines Rabat Solar Team 

Challenger (new car: Eleadora 2) – their new catamaran will look like this.

NL  Solar Team Eindhoven 

Cruiser (new car: Stella ?) – they have a good team working on the car.

NL  Solar Team Twente 

Challenger (new car) – they won the European Solar Challenge last year.

NL  Top Dutch Solar Racing 

Challenger (new team: see my team bio) – they have been prototyping in the snow.

NL  Vattenfall Solar Team (Delft) 

Challenger (new car: Nuna X) – these are the champions formerly known as Nuon. See their name change announcement video.

PL  Lodz Solar Team 

Cruiser (Eagle Two) – they have been visiting the USA for a conference.

PL  PUT Solar Dynamics 

Cruiser (new team) – they are based in the home town of the famous Australian explorer Paweł Strzelecki.

RU  Polytech Solar 

Cruiser (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

SG  Singapore Polytechnic 

Cruiser (new car) – no details as yet.

SE  Chalmers Solar Team 

Challenger (new team: see my team bio) – their preliminary design resembles that of the South African NWU team.

SE  Halmstad University Solar Team 

Challenger (new team: see my team bio) – they are planning a bullet car, much like Michigan’s 2017 entry.

SE  JU Solar Team 

Challenger (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

SE  MDH Solar Team 

Challenger (new car) – some degree of autonomous driving is planned.

CH  Solar Energy Racers 

Challenger (new car: SER-3) – their new car seems almost complete.

TW  Kaohsiung / Apollo 

Cruiser (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

TH  Siam Technical College 

Cruiser (new car: STC-3) – no news on the new design as yet.

TR  Dokuz Eylül University (Solaris) 

Challenger (plans uncertain) – no details as yet.

GB  Ardingly College 

Cruiser – this high-school team came 6th in the iESC Cruiser class.

GB  Cambridge University 

Cruiser (new car: Helia) – they are busy with fabrication.

GB  Durham University 

Challenger (new car: Ortus) – no news on the new design as yet.

US  Appalachian State University (Sunergy) 

Cruiser (new team: see my team bio) – they competed in the American Solar Challenge last year, with their car ROSE.

US  Berkeley (CalSol) 

Cruiser (new car: Tachyon) – they have a bottom shell and roll cage.

US  Houston School District 

Adventure (Sundancer) – this high school team is a regular competitor.

US  Iowa State University (PrISUm) 

Cruiser (new car: Eliana) – no news on the new design as yet.

US  Stanford Solar Car Project 

Challenger (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

US  University of Michigan 

Challenger (new car) – they are asking for name suggestions for the new car.

US  University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project 

Cruiser (new car: Freya) – they are selling the trailer they have stored in Australia, as it is too small for their new car.

This page last updated 15:51 on 21 February 2019 AEDT


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Oral rehydration therapy at home #2

Following up my last post on oral rehydration therapy, it was pointed out to me that coconut water is a rich source of potassium. So much so that it can be used to make an alternate home recipe for Oral Rehydration Solution. The recipe, illustrated above, is:

  • 3 metric cups (750 ml) of water
  • 1 metric cup (250 ml) of coconut water
  • 8 metric teaspoons (40 ml) of lemon or lime juice, as a source of citrate
  • 1 metric teaspoon (5 ml) of honey, to supply additional glucose
  • ½ metric teaspoon of salt, to supply additional chloride and sodium
  • ½ metric teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), to supply additional sodium, and as a way of neutralising the acidity in the lemon or lime juice

Oral rehydration therapy at home

Oral rehydration therapy is one of the most cost-effective lifesavers in the history of medicine. It stops people dying from cholera and other diarrheal diseases. It works because of the sodium-glucose co-transport mechanism in the intestines, discovered by Robert K. Crane around 1960.

The WHO has guidelines for Oral Rehydration Solution, and the recipe pictured at the top of this post is my attempt to approximate these guidelines using ordinary kitchen ingredients and easy measurements (doing a computerised search through the space of valid options). The mix actually tastes OK too. The recipe is:

  • 1 litre of water
  • 8 metric teaspoons (40 ml) of lemon or lime juice, as a source of citrate (10 millimoles, by my calculation)
  • 3 metric teaspoons (15 ml) of honey, as a source of glucose and other sugars (90 millimoles)
  • 1 metric teaspoon (5 ml) of cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate), as a source of potassium (19 millimoles)
  • ¾ metric teaspoon of salt, as a source of chloride (73 millimoles) and sodium
  • ¼ metric teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), as an additional source of sodium (giving 87 millimoles in total), and as a way of neutralising the acidity in the lemon or lime juice

The total osmolarity here is just under 300 millimoles, which is above the optimum of 245, but under the upper limit of 310. The specific WHO criteria for glucose (between the sodium level and 111 millimoles), sodium (60–90), potassium (15–25), citrate (8–12) and chloride (50–80) are also satisfied.

Possible substitutions are 13.5 grams of glucose powder for the honey and 2.1 grams of citric acid monohydrate for the lemon juice. The three other ingredients can also be replaced by ½ teaspoon “lite salt” (which provides sodium and potassium), ¼ teaspoon ordinary salt, and ½ teaspoon baking soda.


The Sydney Observatory


Observatory exterior (photo by Greg O’Beirne, 2006)

An unusual free science museum in Sydney, Australia is the Sydney Observatory. This opened in 1858 as a working observatory. The time ball, which dropped each day to mark the exact time, is still operating at 1:00 PM each afternoon. The observatory now operates as a small museum, having been refurbished during 1997–2008. The telescopes can also be used on paid night tours.

The observatory is a stiff climb up Observatory Hill. The exhibits are limited in number, but include some excellent orreries. Unless you have some astronomical expertise, the paid guided tours will be helpful. My brief visit was an enjoyable one.


An orrery at Sydney Observatory (photo by Anthony Dekker)


Exploring the moral landscape with recursive partitioning

I’ve mentioned the World Values Survey before. Lately, I’ve been taking another look at this fascinating dataset, specifically at the questions on morality. The chart below provides an analysis of responses to the question “Is abortion justifiable?” These responses ranged from 1 (“never justifiable”) to 10 (“always justifiable”). I looked at the most recent data for Australia and the United States, plus one European country (the Netherlands) and one African country (Zambia), using recursive partitioning with the rpart package of R, together with my own tree-drawing code.

Attitude data such as this is often explained using political orientation, but political orientation is itself really more of an effect than a cause. Instead, I used age, sex, marital status, education level, language spoken at home, number of children, and religion as explanatory variables, with some grouping of my own. Demographic weightings were those provided in the dataset.

For the United States (US), the overall average response was 4.8 (as at 2011, having risen from 4.0 in 1995). However, among more religious people, who attended religious services at least weekly, the average response was lower. This group was mostly, but not entirely, Christian, and the area of the box on the chart gives an approximate indication of the group’s size (according to Pew Forum, this group has been slowly shrinking in size, down to 36% in 2014). The average response was 3.0 for those in the group who also engaged in daily prayer, and 4.3 for those who did not. Among those who attended religious services less than weekly, the responses varied by education level. The average response was 4.8 for those with education up to high school; 6.9 for those with at least some tertiary education who were Buddhist (B), Hindu (H), Jewish (J), Muslim (M), or “None” (N); and 5.4 for those with at least some tertiary education who were Catholic (C), Orthodox (Or), Protestant (P), or Other (Ot).

For Australia (AU), the overall average response was 5.8 (as at 2012, having risen from 4.3 in 1981), with a pattern broadly similar to the US. Here the “more religious” category included those attending religious services at least monthly (but it was still smaller a smaller group than in the US). The average response was 2.7 for those in the group who also engaged in daily prayer, and 4.6 for those who did not. The group most supportive of abortion were those attending religious services less than monthly, with at least some tertiary education, and speaking English or a European language at home. Those speaking Non-European languages at home clustered with the religious group (and those with at least some tertiary education speaking Non-European languages at home are a growing segment of the population, increasing from 6.2% of adults in the 2011 Census to 8.3% of adults in the 2016 Census).

For the Netherlands (NL), the overall average response was 6.5 (as at 2012). Those most opposed to abortion either attended religious services at least weekly (3.2), or were Hindu or Muslim (3.3). Then came those who either attended religious services monthly (5.2), or who attended religious services less often, but were still Catholic (C), Orthodox (Or), Protestant (P), or Other (Ot), and had not completed high school (5.3). The group most supportive of abortion were those attending religious services less than monthly, with at least some tertiary education, and who were Buddhist, Jewish, or “None” (7.9).

For Zambia (ZM), opposition to abortion was strong, with an overall average response of 3.2 (as at 2007). It was highest for those whose marital status was “separated” (4.5), and lowest for those aged 28 and up whose marital status was anything else (2.8).

Of the explanatory variables I used, all except sex, age, and number of children were important in at least one country. However, sex was important for “Is prostitution justifiable?” or “Is violence against other people justifiable?” Age was important for “Is homosexuality justifiable?” or “Is sex before marriage justifiable?” Number of children was important for “Is divorce justifiable?” or “Is suicide justifiable?” For example, here is an analysis of attitudes to divorce:


2019 World Solar Challenge update


Nuon, now Vattenfall, at the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (photo: Anthony Dekker)

An update on the 53 teams (27 Challengers, 25 Cruisers, and 1 Adventure car) interested in the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge this October. The big news is that defending champions Nuon have changed their name to Vattenfall.

Warning: this list is obsolete. Please check more recent posts.

This page last updated 23:29 on 17 February 2019 AEDT


The Crucible of Time: a book review


The Crucible of Time by John Brunner (1983)

I recently re-read The Crucible of Time by science fiction author John Brunner (1934–1995). It is one of the last great triumphant-rise-of-human-progress novels where, in spite of all kinds of natural disasters, the inhabitants of a planet drag themselves through thousands of years of scientific development in order to escape their doomed planet (around the 80’s, science fiction became darker and more dystopian, as indeed, many of Brunner’s other novels are). What makes this novel stand out from a rather dull subgenre is that the characters are not human at all, but are some kind of mollusc. When you can get your readers to identify emotionally with a sort of intelligent slug or squid, then you’ve got serious writing talent: “‘But – !’ She sank back, at a loss. For the first time it was possible to see how pretty she was, her torso sleek and sturdy, her claws and mandibles as delicate as a flyet’s. Her maw still crowded, she went on, ‘But I always thought you and Professor Wam were enemies! When I heard you were giving a lecture and she had agreed to reply to you, I couldn’t really believe it, but I decided I had to be present, because you’re both on the other side from my parents. They are crazy, aren’t they? Please tell me they’re crazy! And then explain how you two can be acting like friends right here and now! I mean,’ she concluded beseechingly, ‘you don’t smell like enemies to each other!’

At one level, The Crucible of Time is a strange tirade against religion, having set up a universe in which the religious leaders are, by construction, dangerously wrong. This gives Brunner’s characters some more immediate opponents than the impending disaster itself, but these opponents seem a little too much like cardboard cut-outs most of the time. I was left somewhat confused as to why the universe of the novel contained religion at all. An evolutionary argument was implied, but it didn’t seem to make sense.

The novel (or rather, collection of linked stories) does have some fascinating descriptions of a civilisation that’s built mostly, but not entirely, on biology – in contrast to ours, which is built mostly, but not entirely, on physics. Brunner avoids tedious descriptions by giving animals names that suggest English equivalents. The alien equivalent of a domesticated camel is a drom, for example. The large domesticated water-creatures that perform the function of ships are barqs, briqs, and junqs: “‘Correct! Well, if a mindless plant can find a way to spread beyond its isolated patch, why shouldn’t we? Did it ever strike you that there must have been a first person who pithed a barq or briq, just as there was certainly a first who tamed a junq? Then, folk were confined to continents or islands, and had to trudge wearily from place to place unless they had a drom—and someone, equally, must have been first to ride a drom!’

In a similar vein are words like laq, sourgas, and stumpium (named after the planet Stumpalong). Checking Internet reviews, this aspect of the novel seems to be both loved and hated.

But I consider this novel to be one of the great science fiction classics; it’s well worth a read. See here for a more detailed review and plot summary.


The Crucible of Time by John Brunner: 3½ stars