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New York City - Students Concept: A Wind Turbine Menorah

Published on: December 10, 2009 03:54 PM
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Raffi Holzer, left, and Mark Stauber with their invention. It took a while to find the right spot for the turbine.Matthew [Yaniv/Yeshiva University ]New York City - Someone, somewhere, will probably chuckle to hear about Raffi Holzer and Mark Stauber’s three-part invention for Hanukkah, which begins at sundown on Friday: A wind-powered menorah.

Mr. Holzer and Mr. Stauber, two physics students at Yeshiva University, are serious. And, really, all they did was figure out was how to apply — on a very small scale — concepts that could be applied to large chunks of the power grid.

Their menorah is four feet wide and four feet tall, made of plastic and spray-painted gold. The lights are nine compact fluorescent bulbs. A cable connects them to a car battery. Another cable connects the battery to a wind turbine with a two-foot propeller.

The next part, the how-it-works explanation, sounds like “The Music Goes Round and Round,” except that what comes out is not sound but light. The propeller turns a generator that generates current to charge the batteries. They provide a constant current and voltage to the compact fluorescent bulbs, which give more light on less power than incandescent bulbs.

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Mr. Holzer said he had been casting about for a project with “some kind of practical engineering experience.” Mr. Stauber found the inspiration right there on Yeshiva’s men’s campus in Washington Heights. “Going back and forth from my dorm every day, there are wind tunnels between the buildings,” he said. “Really annoying, but could be useful. I thought, build a wind turbine, but what should we power?”

They realized they had to find the right spot for the wind turbine. “Couldn’t have it too gusty, couldn’t have too little,” Mr. Stauber said. “We tried out different locations until we found one that’s working.” It is in front of Morgenstern Hall, a dormitory. “And we had to find the right bulbs,” he said. “It would have been easier if we only had to light one.”

That is because the amount of power the system generates depends on wind speed. “We have the battery so the voltage doesn’t vary, because as the generator spins at different speeds, the output varies,” Mr. Holzer said. “So we collect the power in the battery, and it powers the menorah when we decide to turn it on.”

Mr. Stauber said he saw symbolism in the project. “In the miracle of the menorah, they got back to the temple and there was only enough oil for one night, but they made it last eight days,” he said. “I see an analogy with the world’s fight for sustainable energy, to take that and make it last as long as we’re going to need it.”



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Read Comments (15)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Dec 10, 2009 at 04:02 PM Anonymous Says:

"They didn't make it last eight days." Oil, enough for only one night, burned for eight days.

2

 Dec 10, 2009 at 04:13 PM Creative Says:

Firstly I hope they realize you need oil or wax candles that burn a half hour and for fridays enough to burn a half hour after Tsais. I wish them much Hatzlacha with their intention and I hope they invent something useful that makes a kiddush Hashem.

3

 Dec 10, 2009 at 04:09 PM Anonymous Says:

mi kiamcha yisroel! i saw this menorah in operation today at yeshiva! kudos to the bochrim for the innovative idea...luck hashem made it especially windy today. kol hakavod

4

 Dec 10, 2009 at 05:08 PM YUstudent Says:

Creative (#2):

They're not trying to be yotzei with this menorah; they obviously know the halacha.

5

 Dec 10, 2009 at 06:26 PM Rabbi Shmuel Says:

Isn't it in front of the Rubin dorm?

6

 Dec 10, 2009 at 07:34 PM mark Says:

its in front of the mta dorms . these boys have brought light unto the nations and carry the torch of yu .

7

 Dec 10, 2009 at 08:03 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Creative Says:

Firstly I hope they realize you need oil or wax candles that burn a half hour and for fridays enough to burn a half hour after Tsais. I wish them much Hatzlacha with their intention and I hope they invent something useful that makes a kiddush Hashem.

please; they're not actually using this to be yotzei, they will light their own with oil/candles just like they're supposed to. the point was to design something for their engineering class and this is what they came up with. seems to me like a pretty cool idea.

8

 Dec 10, 2009 at 09:29 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Anonymous Says:

please; they're not actually using this to be yotzei, they will light their own with oil/candles just like they're supposed to. the point was to design something for their engineering class and this is what they came up with. seems to me like a pretty cool idea.

Mamish torah umadda at its finest!

9

 Dec 11, 2009 at 09:15 AM PMO Says:

You never really know where the next great idea will come from.... it is nice to see students working on the needs of future generations.

10

 Dec 11, 2009 at 09:52 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

Mamish torah umadda at its finest!

Mada, yes. Torah, somewhat questionable. As even its supporters acknowledge, one can not be yotzei any mitzva this way.

11

 Dec 11, 2009 at 01:06 AM Moshe Tzvi Says:

All this is moot, they are taking down the menorah tomorrow before Chanuka begins, YU is making them - most of the Roshei Yeshiva don't want to look Chabad. They only allowed it so YU could get some good publicity with the NY times article and a spot on NBC news (bet they didn't tell those guys they don't want it up on Chanuka).

12

 Dec 11, 2009 at 10:07 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
Moshe Tzvi Says:

All this is moot, they are taking down the menorah tomorrow before Chanuka begins, YU is making them - most of the Roshei Yeshiva don't want to look Chabad. They only allowed it so YU could get some good publicity with the NY times article and a spot on NBC news (bet they didn't tell those guys they don't want it up on Chanuka).

sheker, no rebbe said they dont wanna look chabad. please. thats not the reason.

13

 Dec 11, 2009 at 10:45 AM Moshe Tzvi Says:

All this is moot, they are taking down the menorah tomorrow before Chanuka begins, YU is making them - most of the Roshei Yeshiva don't want to look Chabad. They only allowed it so YU could get some good publicity with the NY times article and a spot on NBC news (bet they didn't tell those guys they don't want it up on Chanuka).

14

 Dec 11, 2009 at 12:17 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
Moshe Tzvi Says:

All this is moot, they are taking down the menorah tomorrow before Chanuka begins, YU is making them - most of the Roshei Yeshiva don't want to look Chabad. They only allowed it so YU could get some good publicity with the NY times article and a spot on NBC news (bet they didn't tell those guys they don't want it up on Chanuka).

YU Chabad attemped to put up a menorah last year and were turned down. In stead, a local business let them place a Mumbai Memoriah Menorah in front of a local business which is directly opposite the Rosh Yeshiva's office - Typical YU, they leave the warmth of Yados outside along with all the love that it brings...

15

 Dec 11, 2009 at 10:52 AM Moshe Tzvi Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

sheker, no rebbe said they dont wanna look chabad. please. thats not the reason.

Or they did - I personally asked several of the Roshei Yeshiva what the problem of putting up an electric menorah on Chanuka was - the best answer I got was "it has no halachic value" - which means absolutely nothing, YU students do a ton of stuff that has no "halachic value" - why should they have a problem with this? The Rav was against public menorahs that people make a bracha on but thats irrelevant for a electric menorah.
One of the Roshei Yeshiva I asked laughed when I told him about it and said "they'll tell you whatever they want and quote the Rav's shita but in the end they don't want to look Chabad"

16

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