second prize 2016

Jonathon Keats
Solar Money

Money originated with the sun. Long before the development of banking, and even before the evolution of the human species, photosynthetic organisms worked out systems to amass, save, and spend solar energy. For many plants, energy earned by collecting sunlight gets banked as sugars, which may be invested in personal growth or spent on pollination services.  Our own economic systems, which emerged with agriculture, merely emulate what we’ve observed in nature: Fundamentally money is a means of consolidating work, and exchanging useful energy with others.


However cash doesn’t serve that purpose very effectively. Although power can potentially be extracted by burning paper currency, even glucose is a more efficient store of energy. We can improve our money vastly – bringing currency into the 21st century – by leveraging our understanding of current and electrifying the pound, euro and dollar.