As deep as any ocean …

• “It takes only 3 seconds to lift the weight which powers GravityLight, creating 30 minutes of light on its descent. For free.”

• Arsole, Cummingtonite, Sparassol, Domperidone … and many other “Molecules with Silly or Unusual Names.” (via Steve Buchheit)

• The funniest thing here is that I don’t for a moment doubt that his math is actually correct.

• “Ecklund’s findings sketch a portrait of a scientific community that is much more religiously diverse than previously thought.”

• “F is for Futalognkosaurus” … “G is for Gigantspinosaurus” … “H is for Hagryphus” … “I is for Irritator.”

• And, related to the above: “Know Your Prehistory.”

• “The Obama administration has for the first time opened up large areas off the Atlantic Coast for offshore wind farms.” That’s a positive step, but still, it’s almost 2013 and the United States of America has the same number of offshore wind farms as landlocked, impoverished Malawi.

• “I believe that, you know, that weather elements are controlled maybe by different things.” Sigh.

• Jim C. Hines and John Scalzi strike a pose for charity. Hilarity, feminism and a good cause — what’s not to like?

• The Baptist Code: A math major makes a big contribution to American theological history.

• Awesome new word I’m eager to try to work into my daily conversation: “frass.” So many possibilities.

Born to run.

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  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    • Arsole, Cummingtonite, Sparassol, Domperidone … and many other “Molecules with Silly or Unusual Names.” (via Steve Buchheit)

    I always love it when the organic chemistry profs highlight this in their classes. It’s a funny moment in the middle of chemistry which can usually be boring as anything. :-P

    Fucitol! ;)

  • aproustian

    The pose-off with Jim Hines and John Scalzi has in fact occurred, posted here: http://www.jimchines.com/2012/12/pose-off-with-john-scalzi/

    It’s just as hilarious as I’d hoped, including the book’s author, Vicki Pettersson’s response (fairly far down the page).

  • Victor
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    “Mathematician Cracks The Baptist Code”, now that title’s just crying out to be made into a Dan Brown ripoff. 

  • Aeryl

    If you like the Hines-Scalzi pose off, may I recommend, The Hawkeye Initiative.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    And of course there’s the classic: http://fernacular.tumblr.com/post/17814450235/welcome-to-if-male-superhero-costumes-were

  • Victor

    And of course there’s the classic

    http://digitalkill3r.tumblr.com/post/37358535755

    Hey Alex, “I” think that Fred really over did “IT” this time so what do ya think folks? :)

    Peace

  • stardreamer42

    It’s perfectly possible to be religious and a scientist at the same time. What it’s not possible to be is a Biblical literalist and a scientist at the same time. Most other forms of religion recognize that they are talking about different things than the ones addressed by science. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    “Biblical Literalists” I wish we’d stop calling them that (especially the rapture/tribulation fetishists), cuz they’re really not.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Gotta respect self-identifiers, and that’s theirs. We do not get to say that they are not using and/or cannot use it as a thing to call themselves, and we should respect their choice of thing we should call them.

    None of which means we cannot point out at every turn that it’s a really fucking inaccurate descriptor.

  • http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/ Andrew G.

    The thing with Ecklund’s study is that it found, to absolutely nobody’s surprise, that American scientists were substantially less religious than the American public, both in terms of proportion of atheists and in terms of degree of fundamentalism amongst believers.

    But pointing that out that would obviously make it harder to continue sucking on the Templeton funding teat, so Ecklund has gone on at great length about how, in the most religious of developed countries, scientists are not actually all raging atheists. (duh.)

  • Water_Bear

    It’s possible but very unlikely. 

    The lowest figure I’ve ever seen was that ~75% of scientists were atheists / agnostic / irreligious and the higher ones go up to 97%. If those numbers are even remotely accurate that means we’re closer to a consensus on the non-existence of the supernatural than on how gravity works.

  • Victor

    (((None of which means we cannot point out at every turn that it’s a really fucking inaccurate descriptor.)))

    EllieMurasaki that reminds me of the year of 1982 in Victor’s so called year of his lord when his welding class decided to show him what life was all about and so long story short, we gods con vic by placing “Fucking” on the door and then showed Victor the universaty dictionary saying that “Fucking” simply stood for Darn……

    STOP “it” SINNER VIC!

    OH! What are ya going to do Victor! Cry to the teachers like ya did back then to have “IT” removed butt we got even with ya and called a recess in the real world and your entire graduation year of welding went down the drain. Right?

    Give “IT” UP sinner vic! You’re not really a god, “IT” was just “Bad Luck” that a recession broke out in Canada and after “IT” was over in Canada me, myself and i had simply given UP on becoming a “Weld her” I mean Welder! :(

    There’s “NOTHING” wrong with Victor Fred! “IT” is the rest of the world! :)

    Not funny sinner vic!

    Go Figure! :)

    Peace

  • David Starner

    Okay, so I scraped through college physics. So can someone else show me exactly what the math is on that weight lamp? Assuming a person is putting out one horsepower for 10 seconds, that’ll give you 15 watts for 8 minutes or 10 watts for 12 minutes. That’s a fairly low-power CFL bulb for 8-12 minutes.  (Phillips is advertising their newest LED consumes 23 watts for a 100 watt incandescent equivalent. That’s cutting edge.) To get the half-hour they claim, it’s a mere 4 watts. Humans can produce 1.2 horsepower in brief bursts, but I don’t see how you’re getting even 10 seconds of full-exertion out of lifting that weight.

    Can someone check these numbers? As far as I can tell, this GravityLight is way overreaching modern technology, or outright fraud.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NR2MMC4EJXJWJMLH6IF457XL64 Alex B

    There have been 13 W (60W incandescent equivalent) for a long time now. You can get an 8 W (60 W equiv) for 8 bucks at home depot. The ODESAN 0A-0101N outputs 436 lumens (roughly 75% of a 60W bulb) for 4.75 Watts.

  • http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/ Andrew G.

    Don’t underestimate how much light you can get from 4 watts or less if you’re not having to conform to picky westerner’s ideas about what colour temperature the light should be.

    The kerosene lamps that this is intended to replace have outputs in the vicinity of 40 lumens, which can be achieved with less than one watt with high-efficiency LEDs. So the back of the envelope says: a 100 kilo weight falling 2 meters giving half an hour’s light: 1960 J of mechanical energy converted at (assumed) 75% efficiency to 1470 J of electricity giving 0.8 watts at 50 lumens/watt for just over 1800 seconds.

  • http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/ Andrew G.

    Oh, and I found wildly divergent figures for lumens/watt from LED lighting, so I picked the most conservative reasonable-looking value. Adjust to taste.

  • David Starner

     That seems more plausible, but they say 20 lbs (~10 kg) and their pictures don’t look that high; lifting 100 kg over the head is more believable to power the light, but it’s also nontrivial and possibly less safe then the kerosene lamps.

  • http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/ Andrew G.

    I may have been too conservative on the lumens/watt figure – Cree have parts for sale at over 180 lumens/watt, and claimed R&D results of over 250 lumens/watt, which is about at the theoretical practical limit.

    0.2 watts at 180 lumens/watt would still be a close match to kerosene lamps, and that’d be only 25 kg on my (possibly pessimistic) assumptions. Going to 250 lumens/watt would make that 17.5 kg.

    Best case (removing my 75% efficiency estimate), 10 kg / 2 meters / 30 mins would be about 0.11 watts, 27.5 lumens at 250 lumens/watt; that’s still in the right ballpark for comparing with a kerosene lamp.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     Yeah. I first heard of the gravity light a few months back, and that objection came up almost instantly. It looks like this version uses a more substantial counterweight, but I still would expect the light put out by this to be more on the order of “oil lamp” than “light bulb”

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which is not exactly a problem for people who are used to oil lamps, not light bulbs.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Which is why it makes a lot more sense in this context than the original one, which was “Outrageously expensive floor lamps for hipster douchebags”

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    Can anyone else figure out what Victor is talking about?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Rarely.

    The only point of reference to the broader conversation I can discern here is their reaction to Ellie’s use of “fucking.” Everything else seems to be mostly internal monologue relating to a welding career interrupted by an economic downturn in Canada.

  • Tricksterson

    Don’t try.  It will only hurt your head.  My reccomendation is to either ignore it or view it as zen poetry.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Unemori/100001112760232 Ann Unemori

    No, and I’ve followed him for a while. He also shows up at the Splendor of Truth website: http://splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/

  • Tricksterson

    “I believe tha, you know, that weather elements are maybe controlled by different things”

    Like wizards!

    But seriously, the woman is a professional politician, who has risen to statewide office and she can’t be more articulate than that?  Not to mention that her level of coherency is about equal to Victors.

  • cjmr

    It looks to me from the video like the light uses the weight like a clock uses a clock weight, using advantageous gear ratios.  IANA engineer, though.

  • David Starner

    Okay.  I still regard it as oversold; I suspect many of the people who buy a copy for themselves won’t be entirely satisfied. I also wager a guess that there will be a descending power curve and that it will need recharged in practice long before it goes out in 30 minutes. But I’ll accept it as not fundamentally impossible.

  • EllieMurasaki

    It doesn’t exist to be the latest shiny for wealthy people, and I note that the fact that you have access to an Internet-capable computer makes it really likely that you are, for purpose of this discussion, wealthy people. It exists to be at least as effective as, at least as cheap as, and safer than kerosene lamps, for the use of people who currently rely on kerosene lamps because they do not have electricity. And if it goes out after ten minutes instead of the promised thirty, who cares? Three times minuscule effort is still not terribly great effort.

  • David Starner

    They’re taking money to do something; I don’t think it unreasonable to ask if their advertising copy is really telling the truth, and be concerned if it’s not.

    As for who cares? Getting up from what I’m doing every ten minutes to recharge the lights is not minuscule. I would be surprised if many people who had abundant cheap material for a fire would switch to something they had to mess with every ten minutes. Even kerosene lamps are going to be an economic issue; I suspect the haves are still going to use kerosene despite the danger.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You do know you’re supposed to get up every twenty minutes just to make sure your desk job doesn’t fuck with your health, don’t you?

  • Donalbain

     The target market for this light do not tend to have desk jobs.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, but David was complaining about how he would feel if he were using that light, and I bet David does have a desk job.

  • P J Evans

     You have to mess with a fire about every ten or fifteen minutes anyway, to keep it burning properly. (Unless you live someplace where you can get really large-diameter firewood without paying an arm and a leg for it.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    It seems to me to be reasonable to use gravitational energy to run light bulbs. If I had a little dynamo I could even test the idea for myself, I suspect.

    But I suspect a physics student or three are going to try and reproduce this idea if only to be able to test it out and see if it works.

  • P J Evans

    If clocks can run for a day on gravitation, with careful  gearing, then I would think that it shouldn’t be any more difficult to build a low-power lamp that can use a similar mechanism. (We have crank flashlights and radios. Why not gravity powered?)

  • http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/ Andrew G.

    Clocks can run for a day on gravity power because they have very low power consumption. Clockwork radios are possible because only milliwatts of power are needed. For lights, though, there is a minimum power requirement because light is energy. (Crank flashlights do work but require a relatively large amount of cranking.)

    “Lumens” are defined in terms of the light power at a given wavelength multiplied by a factor representing the sensitivity of the eye at that wavelength. The theoretical limit is 683 lumens per watt, but that requires a pure green light, not very useful in practice. For approximately white light, the limit is about 300 lumens per watt, with over 250 having been demonstrated in the lab.

    A litre of kerosene has an energy content of, under ideal conditions, about 37 MJ. A small kerosene lamp without a mantle will probably not do better than 0.3 lumens/watt, so a light output of 35 lumens would need about 120 watts. At that performance, one litre of kerosene would power the lamp for about 86 hours (this may be optimistic; actual studies of kerosene consumption in India suggest 40 hours, which is plausible since any number of factors could further reduce the lamp efficiency down to the region of 0.15 lumens/watt).

    But imagine instead that you convert the kerosene to electricity at, say, 30% efficiency (e.g. in a fuel cell), and use it to power a small incandescent bulb (say 18 lumens/watt for a low power tungsten halogen bulb). Now you only need 2 watts to get 36 lumens, and your litre of kerosene would last you more than 1500 hours – over two months of continuous use, or a year at 4 hrs/day. Even if you used a generator rather than a fuel cell and added a bit more loss from battery storage you could still get over 500 hours.

    Make that a high-efficiency white LED rather than an incandescent bulb, and now you only need 0.14 watts to get 35 lumens, and your litre of kerosene would last for more than 2.5 years continuous use.

    But this is probably all moot, since solar is almost certainly a better option: solid-state, no mechanical wear, standardized parts, cheaper to build and maintain than small generators or fuel cells. A modest-size PV panel will easily generate enough power in only a couple of hours sunlight to charge dozens of efficient battery lanterns for several hours usage each.

    My conclusion is that this gravity power thing is probably not worth the money.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    I’m wondering what happens when the thing breaks.  Is it easily reparable?

    Yes, I said “when.”  It’s an inexpensive mechanical device fastened to a 20-lb weight that’s being hoisted up and dropped again every 30 minutes (less if you’re trying to something radical like read by it, it sounds like).  It’s going to break sooner or later.

    I mean, it’s a really neat idea, I’m just wondering to what extent gravity is really the most practical, cost-effective, and non-economy-breaking way to bring light to people in the developing world, and to what extent the creators just thought that a light operated by gravity is a really neat idea?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The main issue is that electrification usually requires a lot of standing infrastructure. If the country you’re in can’t be arsed to come up with a decent way to bring electricity to your house (which really says something about the government’s priorities; even the Soviets weren’t stupid enough to neglect this, and their economy was not the most well-managed), then the alternative is some kind of easily-used, scaled-down technology you can put in your house.

    It strikes me the better alternative would be to make this thing last longer, so that less time is spent moving a rather large weight.

    The only other reusable source of gravitational potential energy is the hydrologic cycle, and in regions without adequate rainfall or rivers, hydroelectric power is no go.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    The main issue is that electrification usually requires a lot of
    standing infrastructure. If the country you’re in can’t be arsed to come
    up with a decent way to bring electricity to your house (which really
    says something about the government’s priorities; even the Soviets
    weren’t stupid enough to neglect this, and their economy was not the
    most well-managed), then the alternative is some kind of easily-used,
    scaled-down technology you can put in your house.

    Um, that’s the invisible, beneficial hand of the free market you see at work there. Large distances + poor customers + high possibility of theft = not worthwhile for private companies to build infrastructure.

    If the government had the right priorities, they would either have to nationalize companies – then everybody would scream “socialism” and cut off funds – or ask them nicely and get nowhere. Or pay millions of money to build their own, which they don’t have given other priorities like schools and hospitals.

    And the alternative is leapfrogging over the need for cables: by using mobile phones and off-the-grid generators: wind and solar. Which charities are busy distributing. So if you want to help, give money to these charities. Because a windmill or solar product produces electricity in general, to which a variety of machines can be hooked up to, unlike this gravity light, which apparently only produces light, no power output.

  • Liralen

    Energy storage systems of any kind are of interest to power grids,which generally lack it. They are also of interest to wind and solar due to poor availability relative to fossil fuels.

    Not that I plan to invest in this project.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Um, that’s the invisible, beneficial hand of the free market you see at
    work there. Large distances + poor customers + high possibility of theft
    = not worthwhile for private companies to build infrastructure.

    See also:  America’s rural electrification, which only happened because the Evil Big Government(tm) FORCED utility companies to string power-lines out into the sticks.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    I realize that, I’m just wondering whether this is really the best solution.

    First: mechanical things break, and if you actually use this for light you’re going to be hoisting that bag up and down a lot.  I’m wondering how durable it is and how easy it is to fix when broken.

    Second, I’m far from an expert, but from reading Fred’s blog and links I’ve gathered that charity to underdeveloped countries is more complicated than it first appears, especially when it involves gifts in kind.  My understanding is that one problem with in-kind donations is that what middle-class Americans think people in underdeveloped areas want is not not necessarily what the people in underdeveloped areas actually do want.

    So that’s why I’m wondering — to what extent is this gravity light something the target audience actually wants?  If the people they’re trying to serve really do think this is genuinely an awesome idea, than sure, go for it.  (Assuming they’re not wrecking the local economy in the process, of course.)

    But maybe the people in question would prefer to have a solar device that would provide a light bright enough for their kids to study by without having to quit doing homework every 10 minutes to lift the bag again, and that they could use to charge their cell phone to boot.  (From the video it seems that the 30-minute time is only for a very dim light — if you want a study light, it’s going to run down much faster.  And looking at some of the math people have done on other sites, it doesn’t sound like you can use thing to charge a cell phone.)  Or maybe they’d rather have a brighter, more efficient kerosene lamp than the one they’re currently using.

    I think it’s a cool concept, I’m just wondering to what extent it’s actually the best solution to the problem.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    Second, I’m far from an expert, but from reading Fred’s blog and links
    I’ve gathered that charity to underdeveloped countries is more
    complicated than it first appears, especially when it involves gifts in
    kind.  My understanding is that one problem with in-kind donations is
    that what middle-class Americans think people in underdeveloped areas want is not not necessarily what the people in underdeveloped areas actually do want.

    Actually quite the opposite. The problem is not charity in itself, the problem is some (American) charities (catering to American middle-class emotions) who do it wrong.

    If you support PLAN or Brot für die Welt or Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft or half a dozen others, they do work with the people, in that case, explaining to them the pro and cons of solar lamps, and let them decide. And, as I said, they do it with credits, so that people feel the value themselves and don’t feel like being recipents who have to be thankful only.

    Two further small facts: if you buy a cordless solar desk lamp from IKEA (at least in Germany, but I think all IKEAs) have pledged to donate a second lamp to their partnered children charity. http://www.ikea.com/ms/en_US/the_ikea_story/people_and_the_environment/customer_involvement.html

    And: while not solar light, solar cookers are imported into Africa for over 10 years by a group in the Allgäu trade school. They build one model, take it to an African city or village, show the people how to assemble and use it, show the mechanics how to make it (a metal welded frame plus metal leaves cut out of spare metal) and then let the people distribute it in the area by building and selling. Saves hours of times for women and children not collecting wood; saves women and children from the diseases of breathing wood smoke; saves the trees that stop erosion.

    But yes, only works when the sun shines. Which happens a lot in Africa.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

     

    Actually quite the opposite. The problem is not charity in itself, the
    problem is some (American) charities (catering to American middle-class
    emotions) who do it wrong.

    Huh?  I didn’t say I thought charity is bad.  I said that foreign aid is more complicated than “Take a bunch of item X that we think Africans want and dump them in Africa” and I’m wondering whether the group making the gravity lights has done their homework on THAT level, and not just the technical “how do we make a gravity light” level.  Maybe they have; I don’t know.  It’s just that on the face of it, the light doesn’t seem especially practical to me.

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    and I’m wondering whether the group making the gravity lights has done
    their homework on THAT level, and not just the technical “how do we make
    a gravity light” level.  Maybe they have; I don’t know.  It’s just that
    on the face of it, the light doesn’t seem especially practical to me.

    While the prinicpal idea – exploring different alternatives to energy, developing cheap methods, because the more different technical solutions there are, the better they can be adapted to the different problems – is one I agree with, what turned me off from this project was

    – it’s a private company asking for donations for the product they are selling.
    If this were a neutral research company / university, I would have no  problem. If this were an already existing charity with infrastructure to distribute the gravity lights, and who had asked the people there what type of solution they wanted, I would have no problem. (I assume that some charities are looking in detail at the gravity light and testing whether they can use it; if they can, those charities will ask for donations).

    – they mischaracterize the already achieved efforts of the solar projects to make their product look like the only solution

    – they ignore the distribution efforts and time even this lower-tech level product would take, claiming that this simple technology could bring light everywhere, despite the vast areas still not covered after decades of solar lamps showing how slow projects like these are over such a vast area.

  • http://kivikettu.blogspot.fi/ Rakka

    David Starner, do you actually consider the reality for people who are not you and not living like you are? Or are you just that anxious to whine?

  • Münchner Kindl

     Wow. Do you consider it possible to enquire about the motives of a company that wants to earn money selling their invention given that an alternative to kerosene already exists and is being distributed in places that need it?

    This is not a binary choice between Kerosene lamps or gravity light, or between kerosene and full electrification. It’s also possible to sit at a desk with internet access in the first world and yet be informed about the needs and projects in other countries (even help the already-working solar projects), and therefore be sceptical of this new project.

    Because, despite the mischaratisation of the solar projects that the gravity light project gives, it doesn’t require a community effort or is prohibivtly expensive to provide solar. Quite contrary. My church group, for example, provides (1) solar panel to charge + (1) lamp with batter to connect to charger + (ca. one dozen) different plugs to charge mobile phones with, for 30 Euros. (And mobile phones are not a luxury: for the same reason – a lot of empty space and poor people as customers, plus possible theft of cables etc. – that power companies don’t put up wires, phone companies don’t put up wires for infrastructure in Africa, Asia and Latin America.) Charging a mobile phone while the sun is shining is a way to earn a few cent for shop owners who have the solar charger. So there is more than one use for a charger than just “using it when the sun shines”. In some countries, they use it to dry products or power other machines. Because it produces a steady current during the day for no cost (no gasoline for a generator), it provides much more use than a machine that only produces light if you lift it.
    The other accusations, that the rechargeable batteries are expensive and hard to replace, are also not generally true. It depends on which product is bought. It’s quite easy and cheap today to buy seperate rechargeable batteries for lamps instead of the soldered-together, proprietery ones we know from camcorders or laptops.

    It’s also not true that it’s difficult for poor people to buy solar products. The charity groups usually work with existing structures like community banks, but the people already save dimes for kerosene. So one credit is given to buy one lamp, and the dimes used to buy kerosene instead pay off the credit. After a few years, the credit is paid off, and the sum is used to buy the next one, and the next family pays it off.

    That’s because the many, many different groups who distribute solar products are charities, not producers of solar products. (Sometimes producers of solar products donate a part of their production, but the standard is that the charity collects money, buys the products and distributes/ installs them).

    Whereas this group apparently produces and sells the gravity light product themselves. This makes the whole thing quite different and worthwhile it to ask questions about how much better their product is necessary before spending a lot of money.

  • Donalbain

    I am led to ask, what problem is the gravity light solving that isn’t already solved in a better way by clockwork technology? No.. I am not really that impressed.

  • cjmr

    Solar cells are extremely resource intensive to produce, for all their cheapness.  And require adequate daily sunlight.  This gravity light will work even if it has been raining for weeks.  I see a market for both.

  • Münchner Kindl

     Ah, the usual double standard: complain about the resources to produce solar cells, but don’t complain about the resources for the “alternatives”.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What resources for the alternative? Heavy object. Mechanism to ensure object descends slowly and can be elevated quickly and to convert the energy into electricity. Thing that glows when provided electricity. Casing. The only halfway tricky part is making a crank generator sufficiently small and powerful for the purpose, and with the exception of the light itself, what materials the parts are made of are irrelevant as long as they’re sturdy. It’s probably possible to build the whole thing bar the wires, glowy bit, and lubrication for the moving parts out of steel at under a dollar a kilogram.

    Solar panels need specific rare metals. The list varies by subtype of solar cell, but at least one kind (copper indium gallium selenide solar cells)needs indium. This kind only needs a two-micrometer-thick layer of the
    particular alloy of which indium is a part, but even so, at several hundred dollars per kilogram of indium, that adds up in a hurry.

  • http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/ Andrew G.

    A 2-micrometre layer means that 2 cubic centimetres of material will cover a square metre.

    CIGS used in solar cells is something like 25% indium by mass and has a density of about 5.7 g/cm^3, so 1 kilo of indium will produce approximately 350 square metres of film. Even at $900 per kilo that makes the indium a relatively small proportion of the total cost, under $3 per square metre out of a retail price of maybe a few hundred $. (Not to mention that silicon-based cells are currently more common, and the biggest current use of indium is to make flat-screen displays.)

    That square metre panel will develop something on the order of 180 watts under standard test conditions, or depending on where you are in the world, between 1 and 5+ megajoules per day. 1 megajoule is enough to lift a 10 tonne weight through a height of 10 metres, so you can see that gravity storage isn’t really a practical option on this kind of scale. (For comparison, 1 megajoule will also provide sufficient power to run 300 0.2-watt lights for 4 hours.) A panel a fraction of that size would suffice to power lighting, charge mobile phones, etc.

  • Liralen

    Windmills.

    Not likely to happen, I agree.  But neither are renewables going to replace fossil fuels or nukes unless their availability improves OR there is a cost-effective and environmentally benign method for energy storage.

    The most important thing though is that there is no silver bullet.  Solving our energy problems will need to occur both on the grid and at end-user locations, as well as in-between.  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2012/12/121206-high-voltage-dc-breakthrough/ 

    As I said before, I won’t be investing in GravityLight.  If someone was interested in technological investments for developing countries, some of the projects proposed at Engineers Without Borders seem more useful.  http://www.ewb-usa.org/projects/locate-project  Notice that a lot of the projects are about water, which I agree with despite being an electrical engineer.  If I didn’t have water or electricity, I’d choose water first.  Not every woman with a hammer sees all problems as nails.

  • Münchner Kindl

     Thank you very much for providing accurate data I don’t have access to (as non-engineer).

  • http://willbikeforchange.wordpress.com/ storiteller

    In terms of the offshore wind issue, there’s more good news.  The Department of Energy announced a bunch of new offshore wind projects.  Sadly, they won’t be functional for commercial operation until 2017 (permitting and building these things takes forever), but it’s another good step forward: http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/news/progress_alerts.cfm/pa_id=816

  • Münchner Kindl

    What resources for the alternative? Heavy object. Mechanism to ensure
    object descends slowly and can be elevated quickly and to convert the
    energy into electricity. Thing that glows when provided electricity.
    Casing. The only halfway tricky part is making a crank generator
    sufficiently small and powerful for the purpose, and with the exception
    of the light itself, what materials the parts are made of are irrelevant
    as long as they’re sturdy. It’s probably possible to build the whole
    thing bar the wires, glowy bit, and lubrication for the moving parts out
    of steel at under a dollar a kilogram.

    Actually, no. We don’t know what this gravity light is made out of, and what materials might be substituted. We have one company who wants to earn money telling us how wonderful it is, and the rest is speculation.

    I’ve heard all the usual anti-arguments against solar and other renewable energy, which are spread by shills and astroturf and repeated by uninformed people.

    Unless you care about rare earth all the time, then I discount your sudden concern re: solar. If you do care all the time, then you are working for longer cycles of use for computers and cell phones (which also use rare earth, but are thrown away evey 2-5 years, unlike solar cells which last 20 years), and are working for a mandatory recycling program where every used computer and cell phone is taken apart to re-use the rare earth, right?

  • EllieMurasaki

    If you do care all the time, then you are working for longer cycles of use for computers and cell phones (which also use rare earth, but are thrown away evey 2-5 years, unlike solar cells which last 20 years), and are working for a mandatory recycling program where every used computer and cell phone is taken apart to re-use the rare earth, right?

    Yes, dumbshit, and I’m so glad you assumed the contrary, I am always delighted to debate with people who prove themselves to be arguing in good faith.

    (My cell phone before the one I got a couple months ago, I bought in 2007. I replaced it only because the fucker stopped receiving phone calls. My computer before the one I got several months ago, I also bought in 2007. I replaced it only because it did not have the processing power to run certain software required for a course I was taking. It currently lives in my family’s playroom because it still works perfectly well. The computer that used to live in my family’s playroom, which I don’t know when it dates from but 2004 is a safe guess, is now sitting in the nook with a couple other elderly computers and my old cell phone waiting for someone to take them to the recycling place. The choices are twenty minutes west of home, half an hour north of home, and half an hour south of home, so nobody wants to make a special trip. And while I admit I haven’t lobbied any politicians on the matter of electronics recycling, I am thoroughly bored of getting replies from my corporatist federal congresscritters and Republican state congresscritters to the effect of they read my letter and aren’t going to do shit about it.)

  • Victor

    (((Yes, dumbshit, and I’m so glad you assumed the contrary, I am always delighted to debate with people who prove themselves to be arguing in good faith.)))

    Yes,  Forgive me if “I’M” wrong butt for a split second there, I thought that you were calling this so called person named Münchner Kindl, a dumbshit butt but “I” would guess that would be no more correct than someone thinking that Victor was calling ya a butt?

    Victor! Victor! Victor! Why do ya come into a hot kitchen with a spiritual can of “NITRO” cause ya certainly don’t want to hear about all the problems that “I” could talk to ya about!

    FOR THE HELL OF “IT”! :(

    Please don’t get his so called 7% Jesus Cells started cause the next thing you’ll be hearing from his so called “ONE” % soul telling U>S (usual sinning) gods, that “IT” is wrong to kill  innocent chidren cause his GOD (Good Old Dad) SAY SO! 
    http://www.globalnews.ca/quebec+mother+of+two+murdered+children+responds+to+ex-husbands+release/6442771730/story.html 

    SEE WHAT YA STARTED FRED!

    Only in Canada ya say!?:)

    Peace

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    Yes, dumbshit, and I’m so glad you assumed the contrary, I am always
    delighted to debate with people who prove themselves to be arguing in
    good faith.

    Well, I didn’t see your good-faith argument when you simply assumed – without any data – that this gravity light would be cheaper and easier to produce while at the same time dumping on solar without any accurate data on solar as being too expensive. (Ignoring also other solar panel technology, like OLED).

    I’ll take concerns about rare earth metals seriously once your country starts a recycling program for computers and cell phones and other electronic stuff that uses them. But to discount solar only and not the rest of rare-earth-using electronics is hypocritical because it uses two different measures.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yes, I fucked my math. Sue me. I’m still not clear on why you assumed, on absolutely no grounds save my concern that this particular component of solar panels is expensive as fuck (which it is, the panels just don’t need as much of it as I thought, and the panels themselves remain fucking expensive), that I share the use-it-abuse-it-God-will-make-more attitude common to my countryfolk.

  • Münchner Kindl

     I didn’t assume you share the use-it abuse-it attitude.

    And as I said twice already, it was your unbased assumption that this gravity light is better in production than solar, although we have no data on what this gravity light is made of, and repeated the usual anti-solar hypocrisy.

    If you had speculated that the gravity light could be produced locally if … and would be beneficial to Africa creating jobs and lessening the need to produce solar panels in specialized factories in Europe/Asia and ship them – and if you hadn’t dumped on solar, I would not have assumed anything, but agreed.
    To repeat, alternatives to PV panels are necessary and could be useful, but not if the company pushing their light distorts facts/ lies about solar and then makes the wrong claim that only their gravity light could solve the lighting needs of millions of people in three continents in short time. The charity groups (and engineers) are already using different solar and other products to fit the best solution to each individual different situation, and having one more option would give greater variability, but that’s not their claim.

    If you had looked at solar panels beyond the anti-solar rhetoric, you’d have avoided not only the math mistake, but also the hypocrisy because you’d know that there are half a dozen or so different types of solar panels; the latest, OLEDs or organic flimsy mats, are still being developed, as they have currently lower output than conventional hard PV panels, but are suitable for different uses. In the West, OLEDs can e.g. be used for putting a panel on your parka to charge your mobile phone, mp3-player, video-camera, internal heat element while skiing /biking; which is true, a luxury plaything, but people are willing to pay a bit more for playthings. In long-term development OLEDs as organic materials could lessen dependence on other materials.

    The hypocrasy is complaining about solar panels using rare earth while not mentioning the huge use of short-lived electronics (of which only a small number is recycled, and only very shortly ago started doing it) versus the 20+ year of use of solar panels.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So what exactly should I have said to distinguish my statement critiquing solar in contrast to gravity in this particular context while speaking as a vehement supporter of solar from “anti-solar hypocrisy”?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’ll take concerns about rare earth metals seriously once your country
    starts a recycling program for computers and cell phones and other
    electronic stuff that uses them.

    *cough*.

  • Lori

    Not only do we have recycling programs for electronics, we’ve had them for quite some time.

    But facts about the US can’t be allowed to interfere with what Muncher Kindl knows about the US.

  • EllieMurasaki

    It’s probably a fair statement that most people in the US who could recycle electronics don’t, it’s certainly true that some who could don’t, and it is entirely fair to criticize those people for that failure.

  • Victor

    it’s certainly true that some who could don’t, and it is entirely fair to criticize those people for that failure.

    So where do we start EllieMurasaki?

    Why don’t ya start with that imaginary GOD that ya worship Victor?

    Be nice! Don’t be like that sinner vic especially at this time.

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  • Münchner Kindl

     In all 50 states, or just in Seattle and San Francisco?

    Mandatory for shops to take back, or one recycling center for the whole state which means 50+ mile drive?

    Mandatory, as that there is a law that citizens must give old electronics to proper recycling centers, or voluntarily, so if people don’t want to / don’t have the possibility to travel to that one recycling center, they simply throw it into the normal trash?

    A recylcling center that actually extracts all the rare earths metals, or one that simply recovers copper?

    Because I hear different facts from all those Americans who tell me why they can’t even recycle glas or aluminium or paper, how far away their recycling center is, that recycling is just a huge scam, costs too much energy and there is enough land out there for landfills so why bother?

    Either show me credible sources or educate your own countrymen better on recycling.

  • Münchner Kindl

     I wasn’t referring to Canada, but to the US.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    This is all sounding like the engineering version of concern-trolling.

  • Whengreg

    http://dansdata.blogsome.com/2008/03/03/stop-press-pixie-dust-unsuitable-for-household-lighting/
    Is a physics look at a similar project, which was completely unrealistic, but the numbers given in the article point say that 20kg lighting a <1w LED over 30min are within the realm of reason.

  • Münchner Kindl

     A 1w LED for 30 min, and then lifting 20 kg (40 pounds)? Not good for school children. Or women, or normal-sized men in bad conditions: 20 kg is 1/3 of body weight for a woman (60 kg) or a small man. Lifting that much every 30 min. each evening is way to much in my opinion. If you use less weight, you get shorter time. Or maybe you could combine 4 weights a 5 kg with everybody lifting.

    It sounds more like an emergency bridge than a fully functional lighting system. Similar to the dynamo flash lights – one was invented a few years back where you shake a magnet through a coil; IKEA now sells a children’s lamp that you turn a handle on. Usually it’s 30 sec. movement for 10 sec. of light (with a battery), which is good enough for a walk home after dark, but not meant for doing homework, giving night classes or handcrafting.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    “She BLINDED me! With SCIENCE!”

    (I finally placed where the post title was coming from. It had been bugging me like woah. Now I can reclaim those brain cells.)


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