Nova

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by DeathStar1, Apr 18, 2006.

  1. DeathStar1

    DeathStar1 Producer

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    WAtching this show on PBS HD tonight. Had a show about Global Warming and Global Dimming. They mentioned that if we don't stop burning gas, oil, and coal, the temperature could increase as much as 14 degrees in the next century.

    Ok, so what else is there? Steam, perhaps. But the ideal solution would be to use the worlds oceans as a fuel source....

    How close are they to get us off the monster that is gas these days at $3.00's per gallon?
     
  2. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Neil, how did you miss that long ass thread where this very topic has been discussed for months now?

    --
    H
     
  3. DeathStar1

    DeathStar1 Producer

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    Dunno. when I did a search today to check, I got a database error...and when I did a quick scan, didn't see it.

    But then again, I'm pretty good on missing things that are right in front of me [​IMG]
     
  4. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    I think that thread was closed anyway, as the National Governments persist in making this a political issue. If we want to look for a solution, it's not far off. In the first place, a massive expansion of nuclear energy efforts is both desirable and achievable. Besides being the chief source of greenhouse gasses, the burning of fuels, and particularly coal, for energy accounts for a great mass of chemical and radioactive pollutants released into the air and waters every year ; and has resulted in considerable international trouble [the American oil embargo against Japan in 1941 led the latter nation to attack the former, so as to shield its seizure of the Dutch East Indies and Malaya with their oil fields] ; and is the direct cause of thousands of fatalities annually, chiefly among miners and plant workers, and principally but not exclusively in the poorer nations. The dangers associated with a widespread use of nuclear energy are generally exaggerated, along with the deleterious effects of atomic radiation — while it is poisonous, like most other poisons, the conditions of exposure make a great difference, and so far from Plutonium being the "most toxic substance on Earth" as is often alleged, people have consumed more-than-visible quantities and lived for decades thereafter. Try that with VX Gas, or even aflatoxin. Indeed, the expansion of nuclear energy efforts should bring with it an expansion of the knowledge and expertise which make every art safer and more useful, if only through increasing the number of workers in the field. If automobiles had only been built in small numbers for the first forty years, and their construction had been abandoned altogether for twenty after that, would we have the dependable, safe cars of today? Nuclear energy, no matter how convenient, is not the only means which should be considered. Since most terrestrial sources of energy which are concentrated enough to be tapped have been, always excluding the falls of the River Congo at Inga, where the local misgovernment has maintained the great hydroelectric works projected by the Belgians in a state of near-total incompletion [roughly a sixtieth of the work has been done, which suppiles all the electricity used in Ruanda and Burundi, as I recall], we must look elsewhere. Since the 1970s it has been known that solar-electric conversion plants can economically be constructed in outer space, where there are no clouds or night to block the sunlight, nor wind to disturb the works. The spacelift capability necessary to achieve this result is actually quite modest, and the processes necessary to build and opearate the plants and return the electricity to the Earth are demonstrated and known. The only problem is the lack of an adequate space infrastructure, on Earth and in space itself, and this lack is most easily remedied with the plentiful energy that large-scale nuclear power can provide, and the special advantages which accrue to reusable nuclear rocketry systems. I am sure there will be those who disagree with me, but I have examined the alternatives, and none of them look as promising, mostly by a large margin.
     
  5. DeathStar1

    DeathStar1 Producer

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    OK, stupid question time. What about Fusion technology? Is this a sci-fi concept, or one that's been in development where even garbage can provide energy?
     
  6. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    Thermonuclear fusion is surely a good concept. The problem is that it hasn't yet been realised in practice. It's my personal opinion that only the advances in nuclear science connected with an expanded fission-power effort, combined with the advances in general science and particularly the handling of hard vacuum and charged particles associated with an increased space effort, will bring it about. On the other hand, the researchers in the field may actually bring their current projects to fruition, and surprise me. Of course, most of them are woefully under-funded.

    In any case, the Sun is one big fusion reactor, and it's already paid off. [​IMG]
     
  7. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    How about windmills in space?


    Okay, seriously, Christopher's commentary about generating electricity in space is spot on. We had the ability to do this thirty years ago, but today it's actually economically -- not just technically -- feasible. Some disenfranchised DirecTV engineer should put a business plan together.

    As for fusion, it has been said, and accurately so, that usable fusion energy technology has been "fifty years away" for about fifty years now.

    One researcher (sorry, don't remember who) was looking into ball lightning, trying to figure out how the plasma lightning ball is able to stay together for several seconds, even though it's composed of charged ions. What he discovered is that ball lightning isn't ball shaped at all, but donut shaped. The helical flow of the plasma ions along the surface of the donut shape produced a corresponding magnetic field that in turn contained the plasma within its donut shape. Don't confuse this with the high-energy donut-shaped plasma containers used in fusion research which actually contain the plasma ions in an annular ring. Those devices do not in any way leverage the induced magnetic fields created by the plasma current. The ball lightning researcher may have found a method of containment that requires very little energy. This was a few years ago. What further research has been done on this, I don't know.
     
  8. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    Would you believe I worked out a plan for this? :b Solar sails, black on one side, mirror on the other, and mounted on a spindle like those "radiometer" toys [like Lavoisier's "sac du gas", today's "whoopie cushion", once an actual scientific instrument]. Alas, the effect turns out to work much better in a "soft" vacuum than a "hard" one, because momentum transfer from thermal gas molecules is so much more efficient than that from photons.
     
  9. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    "Steam"? How do you boil the water?

    The only alternatives ready to go are geothermal, wind, solar, hydro, and nuclear fission power. (Tidal may be important in the future but it's still developmental) All of these give us energy without burning anything. All but fission are almost completely dependant on geography. Nuclear is greatly limited by political affectations. They all have advantages and disadvantages. Nuclear is the most scalable.
     
  10. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Fusion is compelling, but very far away from practical. Gen IV fission is right around the corner, and mass-produced Gen III is here now. Bottom line, we don't really need fusion if we explore the possibilities of fission.
     

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