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.

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

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

  • 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

     

    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.

  • 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.

  • Münchner Kindl

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.)

  • 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

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

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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”?


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