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awesome DIY haha! LEGO science

Depth Charges

I’d say this was quarantine related, but probably not since quarantine wasn’t as in effect a month or so ago. I have to say it’s pretty fun though. Some unnecessary jump cuts in the video, but overall it’s neat.

Kind of makes me want to try it too. Also seems like all the LEGOs are still usable which makes sense given that these are small “depth charges”, and the water should distribute the pressure pretty well.

{reddit}

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awesome science video

Meteor Explosion Time Lapse

Last December Californian photographer Nao Tharp went to Red Rock Canyon State Park in the Mojave desert to take a time-lapse of the Geminid meteor shower.  He never expected he would capture a meteor exploding in an orange plume of dust.  He did though.  You can see in the video above he plays back the time lapse, which spans about 40 minutes of actual time, the meteor streaking across the sky exploding and an orange dust cloud dance across the sky.  It’s quite something.  I remember I saw a fireball streak across the sky when I was in The Grand Canyon last summer, that was cool.

{Peta Pixel}

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science video

Up, Up, and Away!

This video is hard to believe.  Hard to believe it’s not something from a movie, it’s too perfect.  But here it is in all it’s glory:

In case you can’t figure out what’s going on here’s the gist, a truck carrying a suicide bomber was traveling along a highway when it hit an IED in the road.  The truck was hurled into the air some 100 feet or so.  Then, due to forces inside the truck, the bomb went off.  It was timed perfectly so that it went of right at the apex of the truck’s launch.  There’s probably a reason for that – when gravity took a hold on the truck, the bomb hit something that caused it to explode.

Still, had there not been a video of this, you never would have believed that it happened in real life.

{reddit}

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photo science the greatest

Welcome, to the Fusion age

November 01, 1952 the US military successfully conducted Operation Ivy and propelled the world into the fusion age.

Ivy Mike, pictured above, was the first thermonuclear, fusion bomb, H-Bomob, multi-megaton nuclear bomb humanity detonated.  Yielded at between 10 and 15 megatons, it was nearly 100x more powerfull then the bomb dropped on Hiroshima 7 years prior.  It remains one of the most powerful man made explosions ever, and if not for the runaway reaction of the Castle Bravo test, would be the largest nuclear device the U.S. tested.

Ivy Mike was far from the ICBMs of now.  It was a reffered to as a “thermonuclear installation” by our Commie enemies, and as a factory, whose sole product was a massive bomb.

In that sense you can either consider it to have the best or the worst workplace safety record, but there’s no disputing that it produced what it was meant to do.

Here is a video of the explosion for you to enjoy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmlysT9e2Ls#t=3m25s

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a stumble awesome strange the greatest

Peter Rabbit the Tank Killer

Peter Rabbit cover

Here is a tale of a boy rabbit that goes against his mother’s wishes, and goes to kill Panzer tanks.  It’s a story of love, and hate, and death and destruction.  Peter Rabbit Tank Killer.  You should read it now.  For history’s sake, I have re-posted all the panels of book below, so that in case anything happens to the original post, we can still relive the glory that is this Nazi Killing Rabbit.

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awesome DIY science video

Lots of Electricity + Anything Else =

This insane video!


Go ahead, watch, it’s insane!  It reminds me of my microwave experiments, only way more dangerous, like, deadly dangerous.  I kind of want to try it one day, but it just looks too dangerous for me.  Also, it looks expensive, and time consuming, and I don’t like to spend money on things that are awesome.

{FastMHz | Hacked Gadgets}

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a stumble awesome Deadly Computer internet photo science the greatest

Going Green! or Not, Part III – The Impact of Nuclear Energy

This is Part III of the on going segment called Going Green! or Not.  Today I’m going to try and wrap up nuclear energy, hopefully I’ll end with a bang.  As always, if you missed any of the other installments, they are but a click away Part I, Part II. So let’s get back on track, and get to the atom smashing power of a nuclear reactor.

Nuclear energy is up there with abortion, capital punishment, and Yankees/Red Sox, everyone has an opinion, and everyone thinks they’re right, and just mentioning your opinion is grounds for termination of your friendship.  Unlike all the moral issues associated with the other three, nuclear energy is a misunderstood, unknown technology.  It was born from War, but used for good, it was the hopes and dreams of millions of kids to sail across the stars on a nuclear powered star ship, what happened to those dreams?  Fear, scaremongering, and false information.  The Chernobyl disaster, and Three Mile Island Incident really destroyed the nuclear industry when it was just getting interesting.  Before I go on, here’s a little background on both incidents for you:

Chernobyl:

Chernobyl MonumentChernobyl Monument {An1m4l}

Basically what happened was a perfect storm of accidents, human error, and bad design.  While performing an experiment that simulated a blackout, the core ran away from them, got too hot, and there was nothing they could do to cool it off, because the cooling pumps were intentionally shut off for the experiment.

In the worst areas of the plant, humans could receive a lethal dose of radiation in several minutes.  In terms of deaths, 56 people died directly, 4,000 cancer deaths, and ~600,00 people were exposed to elevated radiation levels, the effects of which are still being felt.

It’s also something to note that had the they passed the test, they would have found out that failed the test, because of the meltdown.  And yes, that makes sense.

Three Mile Island:

This was another series of unfortunate events that on a normal day, wouldn’t have been an issue, but when combined, was a problem.  However, in this case, it wasn’t a deadly problem.  The plant operators were stuck with too much information, most of which was useless, and didn’t know what to do when the reactor lost its cooling water, and quickly became over heated, causing the core to partially meltdown.  Unlike Chernobyl, the problem was caught, and fixed, and almost no radiation released to the atmosphere.

Zero people died directly, and numerous studies over the years have shown zero deaths from cancer attributed to the radiation that was, or was not released.

Now that you know this very basic history, (and it is basic, there is much more to each event, (here’s a nice Chernobyl resource)), it should be somewhat easier to understand where I’m going here.

These people over at AlterNet seem to think there’s problems with nuclear energy, and that it can’t help.  They’ve come up with 6 reasons why it wont save us, and quite frankly, they suck.

Reason 1. Length of time to come on: It currently takes so long to come online because of all the bureaucratic crap we have to go through to get one even commissioned.  Between the valid issues such as: “is this a viable place for the plant”, “is there suitable water supply”, “is the area in need of more power,” we get the fucking nut jobs that chain themselves to trees and prevent things from moving froward.  If it were legal to kill people trespassing on your property (it is in some places, look it up!), then these plants would get built much quicker, and with much more fun.

Reason 2 & 4. Insurance and Cost: When compared to wind, or solar which once are put up require only regular maintenance, sure nuclear costs more money.  But in terms of sheer wattage, you get more bang for your buck at a nuclear power plant, then a wind farm.  And, when the wind stops blowing, or you get a week long snow storm, nuclear power plants will still crank out 1MW of power.

Reason 3. Waste: I dealt with that last time.

UraninitePitchblende, is the most common ore mined to extract uranium

Reason 5. Peak Uranium: Just like Peak Oil (which I will get to later), this is a make believe term made to scare you.  They claims that there is only 60 years worth of uranium left in the earth to mine and use for fuel.  What he isn’t saying is that there is 60 years left of uranium we can access today.  Mining technology gets more advanced every year, and in 6 decades, I have confidence we will be able to dig deeper, and in more remote places.

And that’s just my mind speaking, here are some facts: at current reactor design, and current demands, there is enough high grade ore to last 85 years.  With new more efficient reactor designs capable of using lower grade ore, there is enough for 2500+ years.  These designs are in use, or in development now, and if it weren’t for reason 1 holding us back, we’d have no problem at all.
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Reason 6. Carbon Emissions: This is the one reason I somewhat agree with, but at the same time, when you think of it, it doesn’t mean anything.  During the operation of the plant, it releases no carbon emissions, making it clean.  However, people argue that mining and enriching the uranium releases carbon.  You’re right it does, but if you don’t mine uranium, then you must mine coal, or natural gas, and those release carbon emissions in the mining process too.  So the mining carbon emissions are canceled out.  Next you have the building of the plants.  Wind turbines, and solar cells are not born the earth, they are manufactured just the same, they use steal, and glass, and plastic.  Sure they use less of it, but they still use it, so the construction, and manufacturing is canceled out.  So, what’s left is a power plant that produces an average of 6 GW/hr (6,000 Mega Watt hours) a year, and releases no carbon.

If you don’t believe me, check out the research Barry Brook did concerning increasing the mining operation in south Australia.  He even got a nice graph which I’m embedding at near full size so you can read it well about it:

Vattenfall finds that averaged over the entire life cycle of their Nuclear Plant including Uranium mining, milling, enrichment, plant construction, operating, decommissioning and waste disposal, the total amount CO2 emitted per KW-Hr of electricity produced is 3.3 grams per KW-Hr of produced power. Vattenfall measures its CO2 output from Natural Gas to be 400 grams per KW-Hr and from coal to be 700 grams per KW-Hr. Thus nuclear power generated by Vattenfall, which may constitute World’s best practice, emits less than one hundredth the CO2 of Fossil-Fuel based generation. In fact Vattenfall finds its Nuclear Plants to emit less CO2 than any of its other energy production mechanisms including Hydro, Wind, Solar and Biomass although all of these processes emit much less than fossil fuel generation of electricity.

Now, let’s take a look at the different types of nuclear reactors:

PRessurized Water ReactorPressurized Water Reactor Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Boiling Water ReactorBoiling Water Reactor Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Fast Reactor {FR}
    • The first one’s developed to produce electricity, current FRs are liquid metal cooled, which provide better thermal transfer than water
  • Pressurized Water Reactors {PWR}
    • The most common type of nuclear reactor, there are two coolant loops, which means the radiation is separated from the cooling water loop
    • Requires high pressure liquid for cooling, which means high strength materials = expensive
  • Boiling Water Reactors {BWR}
    • Fewer components in the loop less confusing setup in general
    • A much larger pressure vessel = expensive
  • Generation III+ Reactors {G3+}
    • Advancements made on current gen nuclear reactors
    • Increase the life of new built systems
    • Uses less fuel, more efficient
  • European Pressurized Reactor {EPR}
    • A Generation 3+ reactor currently being built in Finland and France expected to open in 2010
    • 300% redundancy in cooling
    • 8.5 foot thick concrete wall designed to withstand airplane impact, and system overpressure
  • Pebble Bed Reactors {PBR}
    • Generation IV reactor, not in use yet, still testing
    • Able to use enriched uranium, or natural uranium = less carbon emissions
    • Exceptionally safe design

With the construction of G3+ reactors, and the developments of the PBR, the world of nuclear energy is about to change radically.  The only thing standing in it’s way are these types of people.  Man do I hate them.  But anyway, there are much more things regarding the different nuclear reactor types.  I could try and go into explaining it myself, but that’s not what I’m trying to do.

And looking to the future, some researchers in California have come up with a prototype for fusion using Lasers! It’s not true fusion, because that’s still unobtainable, but they use the Lasers start a regular fission reaction.  And if that’s not enough, they have claimed that they will be able to use the spent fuel from existing nuclear reactors to power this fusion/fission reaction.  However, I am skeptical of this new technology, because the running joke is that fusion is 20 years away…always.

That is nearly all the nuclear energy information I have for you.  I have a few other resources that don’t really fit this part, so I’ll use them later on.  Stay tuned for future installments of the Going Green! or Not series.

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a stumble Deadly Computer DIY electronic news internet science

Going Green! or Not, Part II – Nuclear Energy

This is Part II of the on going segment called Going Green! or Not series deals largely with renewable energy.  Mainly I take a stab at all the myths associated with nuclear power.  It’s awesome because a lot of people don’t know anything about nuclear power, where as I know quite a lot.  If you missed part I of the series, fear not, it’s just a click away. Otherwise, step right up, and read on my friend.

Now I’m gonna move on from the Planet Green channel, and attack the industry in general.  No where is the idea of green technology more prevalent then the community of Stumble Upon.  I can’t stumble a day without getting 3 advertisements for solar power.  (Before you tell me I can adjust my SU interests, don’t, I know that, and I accept it cause I like to read them, and then give thumbs down and real world reviews, it makes me happy, I’m an evil person).

Solar power is one of the biggest things I see, with wind coming in second.  I prefer wind power simply because in the event of a nuclear winter (or something similar), wind generators will still work.  Anyway, back to the matter at hand yet again.  It’s not the efficiency of one or the other that matters, (both hover around 20%), it’s the writing style that is used to introduce them.  It’s full of hopes, and dreams, and love, and sometimes kittens.  Take this story from Clean Technia: MIT Energy Storage Discovery Could Lead to ‘Unlimited’ Solar Power.  It’s a very uplifting story that links to a source story, and provides almost no original content of themselves (an underlying problem of the blogosphere itself (something I’ve contributed to no doubt as well)), and a video, I couldn’t find the video they said on MIT’s page, so that leads me to believe it really didn’t exist, they just wanted to look like they were doing research.   Anyway, the the last paragraph is this:

No news has yet been released of a predicted timescale to commericial development or mainstream adoption.  However, Nocera has said that he’s hopeful that within 10 years homes will no longer be powered using electricity-by-wire from a central source. Instead, homeowners will be able to harness solar power during daylight hours and use this new energy storage method for electricity at night.

If you read between the lines of that you can find out what it really means: This is just a theory, it will never get made into production because it’s not practical, we’re just telling you this for good publicity, give us more money please.  They claim that within 10 years everyone will use one of these.  Well, pretend for a minute that you have a time traveling DeLorean, and you go back in time to 1955, you would hear this quote:

Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality within ten years.

Well, it’s been nearly 55 years, and we’re lucky to build a nuclear powered power plant now a days, (more on that next).  My point being, the above theory sounds great, and awesome, and revolutionary, but, in practice, the likelihood of it coming true is 0%.  So take that nugget of information with a grain of salt.

So, about nuclear power.  What do you know about it?  Or, more importantly, what do you think you know about it?  Is it dangerous to the environment?  Is it deadly?  How many accidents have there been since it was put in use?  How many at civilian controlled power plants?

Did you know that there have been 8 partial meltdowns, one total meltdown, and one partial core meltdown over the 50 years since nuclear power plants have been in use (this is not taking into account military ships, of any nation).  Did you know that on the International Nuclear Event Scale there is only one event in the highest spot – Chernobyl, and that by it’s standards, Three Mile Island only rates a 5?  (From a country that was always one upping the soviets, they sure got us beat in terms of nuclear problems).  Did you know that when a nuclear reactor has a meltdown, it doesn’t explode like Ivy-Mike above, it just releases a cloud of radioactive gas into the atmosphere letting nature decide who lives and dies.  Anyway, I’m not going to dabble in terms of destructive nature of nuclear energy, for I could do that forever.

Nuclear reactors are closed circuit systems.  That means the water that is in direct contact with the control rods is sealed, and never leaves the system (assuming no breach, or meltdown).  Nuclear reactors are built around bodies of water such as the sea, and rivers so that they can use that cold water to cool the pipes containing the super heated steam.  This water leaves perfectly safe if not a little warmer.  And those cooling towers, guess what, they release nothing but steam into the atmosphere, guess what steam turns into, rain!

Now, I won’t fool you, nuclear reactors do have some waste, and it’s in the form of super irradiated fuel rods that stay that way for tens of thousands of years.  There are three main concerns with this waste:

  • What to do with it
  • How to deal with transport
  • What happens if terrorist get a hold of it

Well, the first two are rather simple to answer, and they come in multi-part answers, isn’t life peachy?!  So let’s get to them:

The current plan for spent nuclear fuel is to ship it off to underground caves and keep it there until the robots take over and use it as their fuel source, the sun goes nova, or we forget about it.  That’s a great solution because the granite mountains that hold them are some of the strongest natural materials on Earth.  In order for the mountain to erode away to nothing, millions of years would have to pass by.  But what if an earthquake comes?  Well my friend, that’s the advantage of having millions of years of geological data on hand,  the locations chosen were chosen because of their low level of seismic activity.  Which means that if there were a major earthquake to happen, leaked radiation would be the least of our worries, trust me.

Now comes the question of transporting it to these mountain fortresses.  Wouldn’t you know it, they have a system for that.  The transports must follow a strict set of guidelines that includes:

  • A 9 meter (30 ft) free fall on to an unyielding surface
  • A puncture test allowing the container to free-fall 1 meter (about 37 inches) onto a steel rod 15 centimeters (about 6 inches) in diameter
  • A 30-minute, all-engulfing fire at 800 degrees Celsius (1475 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • An 8-hour immersion under 0.9 meter (3 ft) of water.
  • Further, an undamaged package must be subjected to a one-hour immersion under 200 meters (655 ft) of water.

If those don’t sound like much, here’s a video demonstrating it for you, go on, watch it, I’ll wait:

You see, these casks are designed to go to hell and back, and still not leak their deadly cargo.  If that’s not enough for you, in the 40+ years of them being in use, there has never been an accident that released radioactive material into the environment.  I bet no one ever told you that.  In fact, if you read over that site you’ll find a bunch of anti-nuclear information, just like a good propaganda website should have.  Anyway, the point is, the forces required to sabotage one of these shipments are far to great (it would be cheaper to just buy the material illegally somewhere) and for a true accident to cause a issue, you would need:

  • an earthquake
  • a lightning storm
  • a gas leak
  • a plane crash
  • a meteor strike
  • flying pigs

All to happen in a single, 50 square foot at the same time.  I’m not C3-P0, so I can’t calculate the odds of that for you, but let me assure you, they’re fucking ridiculously high.  And were one of those to all happen, it’s important to know that spent fuel is not flammable, and cannot cause a nuclear explosion.

The first two points are taken care of, now it’s onto the third, and probably most feared one, terrorists.  Frankly, I’m tired of that word, it’s evolved from a descriptive word of a group of people, into a meaningless fear mongering term of the media.  But regardless, it’s the best word we have to describe those groups of people.  Anyway, what would happen if some anti-human fanatic got their hands on all this spent fuel while it’s in transit (not likely), or after it’s in storage?  Well, it all depends on the type of waste they get their hands on.  Some of the spent fuel is weapons grade, and can be made to produce those sweet explosions like Ivy-Mike, but not much of it, and the process of getting it is not worth the rewards, meaning it’s cheaper and easier to just buy a nuclear bomb pre-made on the black market.

There are much more items to go into, I was going to try and get all the nuclear information into one post, but I surprised myself (ok, not really).  This post has reached the limits of what I think is long enough, so I’m gonna split it here, and you’ll get the rest of it before the week is up, don’t worry.  There’s plenty more for me to tell you on the benefits, and hazards (you see, I’m giving you both sides of the story) to nuclear power.  So come back for part III of the  Going Green! or Not series.  It’s sure to be an eye opener!

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a stumble awesome science video

The pretty Awesome Bomb

This is a pretty awesome idea for a bomb, and to be honest, I never really thought of it.  I mean, if i wanted to destroy a city, I would just go all out and use a nuke, but I guess some people are “concerned for the environment” or some shit like that, and all the radiation that gets released into the atmosphere, and the death and destruction of people and property is apparently just not worth it to them.

These types of bombs are useful against minefields, and armored tanks because they create a massive pressure wave that can damage/destroy those things.  These are apparently comparable to sub-kiloton nuclear weapons, but without the fuss of radiation.  That’s all good and everything, but I prefer a simple Nuclear blast myself.

Whatever, here’s a video of the Russian Father of All Bombs, which is the largest non-nuclear bomb ever made. (interestingly enough, Russia is also the parents of the largest nuclear bomb ever made, the Tsar Bomb)

{photo | Thermobaric Weapons}

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awesome video

Death to a Landmark

towers

Well, a British Landmark, well, I consider them a landmark, giant cooling towers, called The Tinsley Towers.  Apparently they were too close to the roadway, and too old, so they were taken down.  such a shame, they look so beautiful.

Here’s a video of the demolition:

{image via Google Sightseeing}