athelind: (Default)
The other day, I came home to find a note on the door from the local utility company, warning me that on Thursday, 18 Feb 2010, there would be two scheduled power outages for foir maintenance: one from 9:00-9:30 AM, and another from 2:30-3:00 PM.

On waking up this morning, I started to turn on the computer, and realized that it was 8:30. I decided, instead, to leave it turned off, and just curl up with a book until the first outage had come and gone.

At 2:20, having read the whole day without interruption, I went off to an appointment. When I returned at 4:40, all the clocks were still functioning happily, with nary a blink to be seen.

Neither scheduled outage occured as scheduled.

Needless to say, there was Stuff I Could Have Been Doing Today -- not just on the computer; I needed to get laundry done, as well.

I refuse to acknowledge that this is a subversion of my Lenten refutation of procrastination, however. The book in question is Neal Stephenson's Anathem, a 900-page doorstopper that I've renewed twice, but heretofore had only read about 140 pages. I'm now on p. 422 -- so I did something I've been putting off for more than six weeks, even if it wasn't what I'd planned.


athelind: (Default)
A lot of people keep defending President Obama's mediocre track record on progressive causes,* citing the close margin he has, and occasionally even acknowledging that he can't even rely on his own party members in Congress.

[livejournal.com profile] bradhicks points out that Roosevelt, Johnson, and every other President who managed to accomplish anything of lasting significance faced the same kind of opposition, but knew how to use the power, prestige, and clout of the Chief Executive of the United States to get shit done.

The ones who didn't?

They didn't accomplish jack shit, for any cause, progressive or otherwise.

This is not the change I voted for.


*Most of his defenders also ignore his reprehensible track record in sustaining and expanding frankly regressive causes, including some of the worst stances of the Bush Junta on privacy, security, and copyright law, just to name a few.
athelind: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

Oh, this one's easy; it's already part of my Lottery List.

I'd either set up science scholarships, or dump it all into one fusion project or another.

Probably not the Atmospheric Vortex Engine, though.

athelind: (Default)
A couple of years back, I made a few posts about Louis Michard's Atmospheric Vortex Engine, a plan to use the waste heat from nuclear power plants and other industrial heat sources to produce artificial tornadoes and harness them for energy.

(I'm sorry. That's just so over-the-top that I can't type it without italics.)

Today, I found an article on Inhabitat from about the same time period. It's the only one that points out the possible flaw in this system that pushes it into True Mad Science territory:

A 200-meter wide tornado might just have enough power to start absorbing heat from the surrounding area all by itself (something which would be a problem if one is hoping to keep it contained, as once the tornado achieves enough energy, there would be very little to stop it from escaping, so says Nilton Renno a professor at the department of atmospheric, ocean and spaces sciences at the University of Michigan).


And remember, the optimal place for an AVE is right next to a nuclear reactor.

Wheeeeeeee!

The hallmark of the best mad science is when making a disaster movie about it becomes redundant, because the whole thing plays out in everyone's mind as soon as they hear about it:

Dr. Renno: "You've got to stop this project! My calculations indicate that the vortex could become self-sustaining and break free of its confinement!"

Dr. Michard: "Nonsense! You're just one man flying in the face of progress! Increase the power!!"

(Indicator lights rise on the status board. Howling winds increase outside. The technicians spout technobabble. And then... red lights flash and klaxons sound.)


athelind: (Default)
To my surprise, I find myself praying.

This is hard to admit, this year, this hour. Not only am I an avowed agnostic, but the Religious Right has been so soundly mocked for praying for the victory of their Chosen Candidate, as if they could command their God.

The last eight years, however...

It's not much of a prayer, as prayers go. It's just a single word, but one that keeps echoing in my soul as I read Barack Obama's speeches, or watch them on video, or see the words and images of those who have come together, having finally found someone that they can genuinely support, rather than a mere placeholder for their opposition.

It's a single word:

Please.

Last night, [livejournal.com profile] ounceofreason said, It's Christmas Eve, except that there's a decent chance that Santa will burn my house down.

That single sentence perfectly encapsulates how I feel right now.

Please.

Perhaps I'm praying to Old Man Coyote. The last election, for me, moved "Coyote Loves Us" from a wry acknowledgment of Murphy's Law to something akin to an epiphany. It staggered me that Americans could put that man back into the Oval Office even by such a slim margin after seeing what he'd done to this country in that first term; what better evidence that our little corner of the universe was in the paws of a prankster, a practical joker with a penchant toward the scatological, who'd just pulled the national-if-not-global equivalent of a banana peel?

Nice one, Coyote. But just this once...

Please.

I'm going to work now, to while away the next several hours in the ever-so-important task of unpacking and inventorying this week's shipment of comic books and pop culture trinkets.

I welcome the distraction.

When I leave the back room refuge of the comics shop, perhaps there will be good news.

Perhaps I can allow myself to hope.

Please.

athelind: (Default)
I have an interview today at SRI International, up in Menlo Park, for a job as a GIS Technician.

Of the ten items listed under "Experience" in the job requirements:

  • I am solidly confident in my abilities in four.
  • I have brief, passing experience in four more ("I have opened and modified files in this software").
  • I have only theoretical experience in the remaining two ("I learned how to use the DOS version of software in this general category in the early '90s, and I have a book about more recent versions that I've flipped through.").


I am hoping that the quality of my in-depth experience ("Yes, I did that at NASA"), and my eagerness to get more experience in the other points, will overcome the more dubious qualifications I may have.

Wishes of luck are appreciated, but we're past the point of random fortune: skill and poise will see me through this.

athelind: (Default)

Nanomaterial turns radiation directly into electricity - tech - 27 March 2008 - New Scientist Tech



Can we get a "whoa"?

Combine this with the nantenna, and it's looking like nanotech is going to bring about dramatic transformations in energy production and distribution.
athelind: (Default)
Follow-Up to the Tornado Master post of 23 July 2007:

Louis Michard has his own website, where he explains the Vortex Engine without all the fluff of the new article.

Found at FUTURISMIC.
athelind: (Default)
I pointed the Vortex Engine out to Technovelgy.com, a blog that looks at ideas and inventions from science fiction that come true in today's world. They very kindly looked up the reference from The Space Merchants, along with additional material on the Vortex Engine specs that weren't in the original article.

Link here: http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/Science-Fiction-News.asp?NewsNum=1134

(I wonder if you could use a Vortex Engine to create the wind pressure you'd need to run a terraforming-level Hirsch Tube?)

I should also give credit to where I originally found the article: The usually-comics-related blog of Ami Angelwings.
athelind: (Default)
Tornado Master!

Ontario Louis Michard proposes using the waste heat from a conventional power plant to create a tamed tornado, and generating far more power using turbines that tap into the vortex's energy.

On the longer term, he proposes setting up vortex engines in the warm seas around the equator, providing not only a ready-made, inexhaustable source of heat to sustain the vortices, but also taking the waste heat building up from greenhouse impacts and channeling it into the upper atmosphere to cool off the whole damned planet.

I remember that Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth used a very similar process to both generate energy and vent massive amounts of heat to terraform Venus in The Space Merchants and The Merchant's War.

This is so utterly over the top, and fraught with so many delightfully cinematic ways to go horribly, horribly wrong, and yet it's packed full of SO CRAZY IT JUST MIGHT WORK goodness.

But, seriously, atomic-powered tormandos? Calling Doctor Neil "Storm" Cloud!

March 2010

S M T W T F S
  12 3 4 56
78910 111213
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 222324252627
28293031   

Tags

Page generated Mar. 24th, 2017 08:01 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios