On this date in 1954, Bell Laboratories in New York announced the prototype manufacture of a new solar battery, or what we now call a solar cell. The new cell was capable of a 6 percent energy conversion efficiency with direct sunlight, as opposed to about a 1 percent rate with earlier creations. In a demonstration for the press, the Bell inventors placed the array of several small silicon strips in sunlight. The cell captured the free electrons and turned them into electrical current, powering the rotation of a 21-inch Ferris wheel. In the U.S. today, solar energy powers nearly 83,000 homes. Thirty-three domestic businesses manufacture solar cells, with annual revenue of about $815 billion. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <www.census.gov>.