Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Flying high at Fern Forest Treehouse

            Up in the sky—is it a bird? (Newp) Is it a plane? (Newp) Is it Superman? (Well, sort of)
Treehouse guest Ben is flying high with his new startup company, Altaeros Energies. The MIT grad has spent the last few years working on a new kind of windmill. It’s called a Bouyant Airborne Turbine. Made of sturdy industrial fabrics, the BAT looks sort of like a gigantic floating donut with fins. In the middle are blades that turn with the wind. The flying turbine, which Ben says is as big as our house, is tethered to the ground and strong enough to hold sensors that detect when helium levels are low—in which case it floats to the ground for “refueling”—wifi, and impact detectors in case a clumsy pigeon should fly into it. And, of course, a very long extension cord to supply electricity.
Ben’s idea is to use the BAT not only for home power but especially for areas hit by natural disasters that have knocked out electricity—earthquakes, tornados, floods, and the like. Once the donut is filled with helium and aloft, it transmits power to the ground, and you’re good to go. The BAT is cheaper than a windmill and at an elevation of two thousand feet reaches more consistent winds than windmills. The BAT is more flexible, too, as well as reducing human and animal impact. You can check out the BAT on Ben’s company website: http://www.altaerosenergies.com/index.html.
I neglected to mention that Ben brought his girlfriend Sarah with him to Fern Forest for the weekend. She works in commercial marketing in Boston, but there’s nothing stuffy about this savvy lady. She raced Ben to the top of Camel’s Hump, challenges him to a half marathons, and likes to sing silly songs. When I told her I was working on a novel about the Titanic, she launched into the old camp song:
Oh they built the ship Titanic
To sail the ocean blue,
And the Captain swore that the water'd
Ne'er come through.
But the Lord Almighty's hand
Said the ship would never land.
It was sad when the great ship went down.”
Her enthusiasm was infectious, and I couldn’t help joining in on the chorus:
Oh it was sad - so sad
It was sad - too bad
It was sad when the great ship went down
Husbands, wives, little children lost their lives
It was sad when the great ship went down
Down to the bottom of the sea
Blub blub blub blub
            These two very cool people like Vermont microbrews, good food of all types, and lots of fascinating conversation. Before breakfast each morning Ben took over the stove and made himself hot chocolate with some cacao powder I found in the back of the cupboard. Sarah didn’t complain when on their second night a high wind got the Treehouse rocking and rolling. Don’t doubt for a minute that these two bright and energetic people can rock and roll right along with it.

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