Maria Telkes

TELKES, Maria, American physicist, 1900-1995. A pioneer of several solar energy projects. Whilst an Associate Research Professor at MIT, she realised her interests lay in solar energy applications. For the next 50 years this was her main research area at NYU later, and also when Director of Solar Energy Labs for two industrial organisations. There were two principal developments from her work, a solar oven and a solar powered house. The solar oven was completed by 1977, it was useful for tribal Indian usage in remote reservations. There were extra safety features such that children could use them, and there was no need to constantly stir to avoid burning the food. This technology then also came to be used for rapid drying of harvested crops. In 1980, there was a combined effort by MIT and the US Dept of Energy, in collaboration with Maria. The purpose was to build an inexpensive and rapidly assembled house with many solar panels/windows, so that all power originated only from solar energy. This was successfully achieved and it became known as Carlisle House, since it was in Carlisle (Mass). The house project was planned after the 1973 oil emergency had shocked the authorities into action. Maria’s supporters call her the Sun Queen.

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