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Hyperloop Test

When Elon Musk debuted his Hyperloop idea 3 years ago it was impressive.  He shared the technology with the world to challenge everyone to make this dream a reality.  Now we’re getting companies to start building the prototype.  Hyperloop One and BIG are teaming up for to build a track in, you guessed it, Dubai.  The University of Waterloo is about ready to test their Waterloop prototype pod which they hope will achieve speeds of 300mph.

It’s an exciting new world that’s about to start.  Let’s hope they get it all developed quickly!

{Engadget|Inhabitant|Inhabitant}

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electronic news science

Circuit Board Art

Old circuit boards had a certain beauty to them.  All those delicate lines of silver solder connecting components together.  They had a two part purpose – you could actually repair something if necessary, and they looked pretty cool.  With the ever increasing levels of optimization we get smaller and smaller components and we loose this beauty.

circuit box

Theo Kamecke tries to save those in a beautiful way.  He makes works of art out of them, functional chests and boxes, decorative Egyptian obelisk, or framed art pieces, it depends on the boards in question and what his creative eye has in store.  They look spectacular though.

Circuit obelisk

{MAKE}

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Leaf Boats for Gulliver

These are pretty cool, kinds of things I sometimes did in my pond, only they never went anywhere, and usually weren’t as structurally sound as those look.

The whole premise is you take natural things and make a boat out of them, then put that into a stream, or pond, and take a picture of your (hopefully) floating contraption.  Then go have a picnic with some other like minded individuals.  Or at least that was the plan, way back in July in Canada.  Not a bad idea, hopefully they’ll do something like that again next year.

Here are 2 of my favorite boats:

The feather one:

And the flower mast one.

{Booooooom}

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a stumble science

Concepts!!!

You know what the best thing about concepts is, how ridiculous they are.  I like to place bets as to when an individual concept will make it from the Photoshop render, to a prototype, to a working prototype, to a consumer product.  So far, exactly one thing has made it to the end, and I lost that bet.

Anyway, after the click you got my 3 favorite concepts form the past month or so of my stumbling around the internetz.  Enjoy them, and remember if they ever come out and become products, I owe someone a dollar*

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Weaved Telephone Baskets

Weaved baskets are pretty nice.  The all natural ones are very burnable, something these all plastic ones lack. (Which is either good or bad depending on you’re view)  They are called Zulu Telephone Wire Baskets and made in South Africa.  For the most part, they are made from the wire from downed telephone poles.  Injured workers from the mines and oil fields of South Africa are taught how to weave them.

It’s pretty neat stuff, with some pretty insane designs that must take ages to master.  They start weaving it from the top, and end at the bottom center.

Turning the mess of plastic wires into a beautiful work of art you can buy and 75% of the money goes straight to the one who weaved it.

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Earth Hour…

Brings back the Going Green series, or at least finishes it, (probably).  I’d just like to say, that Earth Hour is a waste of time, and I had every thing on, and plugged in my house.

You see, I spent 4 days without electricity last week, and am in no rush to repeat that experience.  So in order to make up for that time with no power, I had to use extra tonight.  It all works out because in the end, Earth Hour is a joke.  By turning off your lights for one hour one day a year do you think it impacts the amount of electricity a power plant produces?

You’re wrong.

A power plant is not like a battery, if the light is off, power is not being used (or made).  Power plants constantly producing electricity, if they stopped for a minute the grid would be destabilized.  What power plants do do is anticipate loads (in the summer months, air conditioners are used, and so they generate more power).  In recent years the power companies have begun to anticipate the slight drop in demand for power in the one hour period of “Earth Hour” so that power doesn’t get sent out to the grid.

The plant still operates, and still produces power, so the idea of an hour with your lights off, even multiplied the city, state, country over doesn’t add up to much.  Especially when man made CO2 emissions have nothing to do with “global warming” or “climate change.”  But hey, I can’t stop you from participating in it, all I can do is plug everything I own into my power outlets.

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a stumble strange

Shift_the way you use water

I’m sorry, that just reminded me of the Nissan commercials with Shift_some words.  Anyway, here’s a new faucet designed to get people to use less water.  I’m gonna do something different, post all the photos of it, and then give my opinion.

Ok, look at those pretty photos.  Aren’t they cool?  Well, here are my thoughts on it.  First, let’s take a look at a normal bathroom sink courtesy of Wikipedia:

That sink is the product of hundreds of years of normalness.  The hot water control is on the left, and the cold water is on the right.  Some sinks have different taps for each water, and some are a lever in the middle, but there is a commonality between left – hot, and right – cold.

If we look at the shifter, there is no hot or cold, just slow – fast, and while that is nice, it is useless.

Are people gonna have to learn to drive a shift faucet, because we’ve used simple turning things for generations?  Will we have to push in the clutch if we want to change water temperature?  Clearly it will involve the use of both hands and probably a foot or something too.  And people just learning their way along this “manual faucet” will likely get burnt by the hot water when they go to take a shower one day, and will be scared for life as it will be hard to judge just exactly when, and how much to give of each type of water.  And hopefully you’ll be able to do it before the water gets too hot to burn you, or too cold to cause you  to melt into a pile of flesh colored mush.

Next up, when people actually do how to use it, will it actually work?  Sure manual transmission cars are more efficent for a variety of reasons, but they also come in a much wider variety where efficency isn’t a problem.  Will there be luxury faucets too?

And after everything is all said and done, people will probably just have too much fun playing with the shifter and changing the speed to actually save any water?  I think so.  Afterall, when was the last time you spent hours playing with your regular faucet?  Probably when you were 3.  On the upside, these new things will be so complicated that 3 year olds wont be able to use them, on the down side, 3 year olds will smell worse now.

Overall, I think this concept is cool, but will become a failure at heart.  It’s just too silly to actually work.  But good work on an interesting design, and trying to get your car in the home in not the shape of a bed or on wallpaper, on in matchbox cars.

{I need a new Idea}
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DIY google internet

Doodle 4 Google again

Google is having the finalist stage of their Doodle 4 Google contest.  The country is broken down into 10 regions and 4 age groups, 40 finalists are chosen, and you get to vote for one from each age group.

This year’s theme was “What I Wish for the World.”  Well, most of the kids who drew pictures choose “greener worlds” and animal rights, and peace and unity, and an end to wars.  Is everyone a Miss America?  Damn, kids are optimistic now a days.  I remember when I was 8, I didn’t give a rat’s ass about the environment, or all the different Religions that populate our planet, and how they all hate each other.  Why are these kids thinking of them?  They should be thinking of G.I. Joes, and Power Rangers, and trying to stay up late to watch The Simpson’s without mommy and daddy finding out.  I blame the parents, they are giving their kids too much responsibilities now a days.

Anyway, here are my favorites:

Grades K-3

Gilding Over our Great Loving Earth
Gilding Over our Great Loving Earth

Grades 4-6

Go Green
Go Green

Grades 7-9

Paperclips A Unified World
Paperclips A Unified World
Be Seen Being Green
Be Seen Being Green

Now I’m torn on this age group because I like the paper clips one, but I like that the author of the Green one realizes that nuclear power is green. However, the paper clip one is more unique, and better, so I choose that one.

Grades 10-12

Spreading the Spark
Spreading the Spark

Well those are my picks, now it’s your turn, go vote!

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a stumble Deadly Computer internet movie science the greatest video

Going Green, or Not! part IV – The CO2 Myth

Welcome to Part 4 of the Going Green, or Not! series.  Today I will tackle Carbon Dioxide, that lovely deadly gas we exhale every day.  As always part I, part II, and part III are just clicks away, so please catch up to them if you haven’t read them yet, and if you have, then dive right into this controversy spurring post of the dangers that don’t exist with Carbon Dioxide.

Carbon Dioxide, CO2, is often claimed to be the leading cause of global warming.  Everywhere you look you see it weather it be your carbon footprint, or the carbon emissions from cars, or planes.  Carbon dioxide is the poster child for global warming, and without it, they wouldn’t have a case, let alone a “theory”

I found this documentary awhile ago, The Great Global Warming Swindle (GGWS).  I’m embedding it at the end for all those who care to watch it, be warned its over an hour long. But first let me tell you that there is a lot of controversy over this documentary, and weather it’s factual, or skewing the truth a little.  Well, that doesn’t really matter, because the point of the film is to get you thinking, and thinking is what I’ve done.

Now, back to CO2, here’s the opening paragraph on Carbon Dioxide from Wikipedia:

an example of a CO2 atom
an example of a CO2 atom

Carbon dioxide (chemical formula: CO2) is a chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom. It is a gas at standard temperature and pressure and exists in Earth’s atmosphere in this state.

Carbon dioxide is used by plants during photosynthesis to make sugars which may either be consumed again in respiration or used as the raw material to produce polysaccharides such as starch and cellulose, proteins and the wide variety of other organic compounds required for plant growth and development. It is produced during respiration by plants, and by all animals, fungi and microorganisms that depend on living and decaying plants for food, either directly or indirectly. It is, therefore, a major component of the carbon cycle. Carbon dioxide is generated as a by-product of the combustion of fossil fuels or the burning of vegetable matter, among other chemical processes. Large amounts of carbon dioxide are emitted from volcanoes and other geothermal processes such as hot springs and geysers and by the dissolution of carbonates in crustal rocks

It is important to note where CO2 comes from.  Proponents of global warming would have you believe that CO2 is entirely a man made gas, when in fact, it’s one of the building blocks of life – All plant life depends on CO2, and all animal life depends on plant life, so reducing/removing CO2 from the atmosphere is dooming us. But that’s not all of what they’re saying.  They claim that the human emissions of CO2 is having a significant impact on the planet’s atmosphere, when in fact estimates up to 97% of the CO2 released into the atmosphere every year come from 100% natural sources, these include, all living organisms (of which there are a couple of orders of magnitude more then humans), volcanoes, and most importantly oceans.

This is where the first seeds of controversy come up in the GGWS, they claim that volcanoes release  more carbon then humans do, that is wrong, as multiple facts show.  However, this is where more controversy should arise.  No one says anything about the rest of the natural world, the animals, and absolutely no one says anything about the oceans.  So just as the writers, directors, and producers behind GGWS skimmed over some information on their graphs, the very people who attack them completely ignore 2 significant factors of CO2 emissions.

In fact, every source I found that attempts to discredit the documentary ignores the Oceans entirely.  Why are these people ignoring the very things that control our planet?  Yes, the oceans control our planet, they dictate what lives and what dies, liquid water oceans are the one thing that separate us from every other orbiting body in this solar system (except maybe Europa).  Why are they being ignored?  Because they throw a wrench into the well oiled machine that is the current Global Warming theory.

The oceans release, and absorbs vast amounts of CO2, both man made, and natural.  This is natural, and part of the life cycle of the earth.  Another thing that’s part of the life cycle of earth, is change.  Through change comes evolution.  Since the beginning of time (or the earth, whatever), the earth’s surface has been evolving, and the life inhabiting it has done the same.  One of the main arguments is that the increased CO2 levels will increase the acidity of the ocean, causing mass deaths of marine life.  Well my friend, to quote Dr. Ian Malcom:

If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it’s that life will not be contained. Life breaks free, expands to new territory, and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously.

I’m simply saying that life, uh… finds a way.

What that means is that sure the changes we make now will effect life, but guess what, it wont disappear, not in a long shot.  It’s natural that animals and species die off, and evolve, unless it’s directly related to man (I guess you could argue, everything is, and to that I say, stop, shut up).  Anyway, lets go back to CO2, and Global Warming.

Did you know that CO2 has an insignificant effect on the earth’s atmosphere?  Did you know that water vapor (yes, the same water vapor from cooling towers) accounts for 95% of the greenhouse effect on the earth?  I bet you didn’t.

The fact remains though that when you factor in water vapor, the charts start to get very different, significantly different actually.  So different, as to show that man has absolutely no significant long term effect on the atmosphere.  But hey, why would you want to know that?

Here’s some graphs to help drive the point home for you:

Water Vapor vs. the other green house gasses
Water Vapor vs. the other green house gasses
Contrubitions of man-made CO2
Man made vs. natural CO2 emissions
Man made vs. natural methane emissions
Man made vs. natural methane emissions
man made vs. natural nitrous oxide emissions
Man made vs. natural nitrous oxide emissions
Man made vs. natural water vapor emissions
Man made vs. natural water vapor emissions
Man made vs. natural CFCs
Man made vs. natural CFCs
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If it wasn’t obvious from above, surly it is now, human CO2 emissions are insignificant. Also that water vapor emissions from cooling towers, yea, it doesn’t do anything.  In fact, when you factor in everything, and do the math, human’s contribute 0.28% of the total greenhouse effect.  After you do some more math, you get: “0.117% of the greenhouse effect is due to atmospheric CO2 from human activity”. {Graphs and information from Geocraft}.

So in other words, all the effect the media, the governments, the scientists, and everyone would have you believe is tiny, and insignificant.  So I ask you now: Who’s cheating who?  Who’s being true? And Who don’t even care anymore?

In effect, almost everything you’ve been told about global warming, and carbon dioxide by the media, the government, and people in general is wrong.

Here is the GGWS video, it’s long, but worth the watch I think.  I didn’t tackle everything they brought up in it, but I stayed on the CO2 part at least.

If you’re interested, here is a good break down of most of the GGWS video, but it falls prey to the very traps that I mentioned above.

Today being Earth Day I hope you all get some relaxation in, and treat the earth well.  That means go about you’re normal daily life.  That’s one more notch in the going green belt, let’s see how long we can make it.  Fortunately with this belt people get smarter as it goes on, so the longer the better.  Stay tuned for part V coming whenever I get around to finishing it.

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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.