* Posts by RichardSmith

15 posts • joined 18 May 2007

Boffins: Give up on CO2 cuts, only geoengineering can work


Ocean Acidification...

What a pack of morons.

The oceans are going to get more and more acidic as we keep dumping CO2 into the air. Many species are having a hard time reproducing at the current pH. Do they WANT to test the hypothesis that if the oceans die, everything dies?

I'm a big fan of nuclear power for base load and solar / wind for spikes on hot days. Coal is a disaster. It causes an order of magnitude more deaths than nuclear and people accept it as business as usual. For example, 3 Mile Island killed no one and released less radioactivity into the local environment than the locals got from their TV sets. It shut down the nuclear industry in the USA. Where as 37 miners dying in a coal mine in the Ukraine is such a non-issue the media can't be bothered reporting it.

However, 9 out of the 10 biggest corporations on Earth are involved in oil (the 10th Walmart depends on cars). They make darn sure that the media minimizes the impact of their pollution and is shrill about pointing out the dangers of other sources of energy.

Government promises low carbon future


Re Mike: Taking us back to the Dark Ages.

The myth that any reduction to our carbon wastes will destroy the economy has long been exploded. Plenty of ways to reduce carbon will save money and help the economy. If the intention were to go completely solar/wind/tidal then the crack about going back to the dark ages might have some validity. (Read Bruce Sterlings essay in "Fusion" by Baen books for example.)

But the report says that 40% of the energy will be created by renewables, nuclear and "clean coal". Geothermal is great if you have a location that can use it.

Nuclear can certainly sustain a high technology society. But I have severe doubts about "clean coal".

A single clean coal plant does not exist on the planet. No one has shown that high pressure CO2 pumped underground won't leak out again which would invalidate the whole concept in a instant. More telling, a "clean coal" power plant would use up 60% of its energy output (167% more expensive) trapping the CO2, compressing the gas and pumping it underground. (And if we add 1.67% to the price of "clean coals" electric price it fails in the market place which is WHY there is not a single "clean coal" power plant on the planet.)

Anyway I've read about energy plans that would take us back to the dark ages but I do not see how what is discussed in this article can fit in that category.

Warm regards, Rick.

Buzz Aldrin weighs into NASA


Graham Bartlett needs education

I would suggest Graham Bartlett read "The Case for Mars" as the book describes in details the radiation hazards that he thinks are mission killers. A short summary:

1) The radiation from the sun will be stopped by the walls of the ship. This will work for normal radiation levels but will won't help if there is a solar flare (typically happens once a year depending on how active the sun is). (The radiation levels are very dangerous inside the Van Allen belts but they will travel thru these quickly.)

2) Since the trip will take 6.5 months one way, there is a good chance of one flare happening during the trip there or back. (Being hit by two or three flares is unlikely but possible.) During a 'solar storm' the astronaut go into a storm cellar which has high radiation protection for the duration of the storm. The storms last 10 hours +/- a couple hours.

3) There is no reasonable protection from cosmic rays while in space. They take this radiation.

4) Once they get to Mars, they have 6 to 14 millibars of air pressure. Since the scale height of the Martian atmosphere is 3 times Earth's, this is like 18 to 42 millibars of pressure on Earth. This is enough to deal with normal solar radiation. A few sand bags on the roof plus the atmosphere will provide protection from solar storms. (Also if the storm happens at night, the whole planet will protect.)

5) The atmosphere is far to thin to stop cosmic rays (the Earth's atmosphere & its Magnetic fields don't stop them from hitting all over Earth). However, being on Mars halves the space dosage since the body of the planet blocks all those that would come up from under the people.

6) The total dosage of radiation will increase the chances of a fatal cancer by a small amount. (I don't remember the number right now but it was something like 1/3 the risk of getting cancer if you smoke. Zubrin pointed out that if recruit astronauts who were smokers and sent them to Mars with out cigs, you would very significantly reduce their chances of getting a cancer.

The total radiation dose for the whole mission was around 150 rads for 31 months I believe. This assumes two solar storms, both while the astronauts are in space. (Someone have The Case for Mars with the exact figure?) Since you would likely be getting 1500 rads a minute in the core of Chernobyl - Graham Bartlett is publicly displaying a woefully amount of ignorance here.

Warm regards, Rick

Dinosaurs actually slimmer than we thought, say boffins


That would explain how Bontosaurous can walk...

I read somewhere that calculations of the amount of oxygen that they could get with their lungs was not sufficient to allow them to walk. A slimmer dino would presumably be able to walk, run, gambol, cavort & frolic. But could they tango?

Tesla and Daimler plan joint 'affordable' e-car


Electricity is more efficient

You might want to read the white paper on Tesla Motor's site. The "long tail pipe" hypothesis is very weak and electric vehicles are cheaper to operate and have a lower carbon signature (even including that coal makes part of the electricity generated) than regular vehicles.

The main concern for me is the range. We are are a one car family and occasionally we need to go a long distance. If we had two cars, electric vehicles would be much more attractive to us.

Warm regards, Rick.

Europe, Russia discuss 'orbital shipyard' plans


Sounds like the 90 day plan all over again.

Bush Sr ask NASA how much it would take to go to Mars & NASA came back with the 90 day plan. It required construction of orbital shipyards, trips to Luna for materials, a giant ship going inside Venus' orbit for 10 days on Mars, etc, etc. It would cost 1/2 a trillion dollars which sank it right there.

Robert Zubrin came along with a simpler "Mars Direct" plan. A single launch puts the return ship on Mars to make fuel out of the air. 2 years later, a single launch sends people to Mars for a year and a half of exploration. Cost was $15 billion, or $45 billion if NASA did it.

Those who don't want to go to Mars just make it sound expensive.

Warm regards, Rick.

USAF raygun boffins clocking planet-buster asteroid threats


With enough lead time we could deflect them.

With enough years advanced warning we could deflect them while they

are close to an Earth 'keyhole' orbit. A bunch of bomb engineers did a

study to find if nukes would be good a deflecting them and concluded

that atom bombs would NOT work. We would have to go up and use

a gravity tractor or mass driver or something.

But those are just engineering details.

Warm regards, Rick.

Russia raises fare for NASA's Soyuz rocket rides

Thumb Up

Why all of these space tourism reports...

... people have been saying for years that no one is willing to pay millions of dollars for a joy ride into space. The Russians should catch a clue and stop offering this service.


US govt hydrogen highway runs out of road


Hydrogen has a low energy density

The reason that gasoline is so popular is that it is a liquid fuel which makes it easy to transport store and manipulate in a car. Also, a small volume of gasoline will hold a huge amount of energy.

The problems with hydrogen are:

-- Very difficult to transport. The atom is so small it leaks thru just about anything including solid metal (which it makes brittle).

-- Lower energy density than methane (which is easier to store and use in the car).

-- A danger in poorly ventilated areas. (e.g. underground parking garages filling up with hydrogen cars and fuel air explosive.)

-- Require platinum catalysts for the fuel cells. If these went into mass production the cost of platinum would go sky high. Furthermore, the catalysts are poisoned by impurities in the air so this very, very expensive part of the engine would have to be replaced regularly. After 20 years, we still have not found a cheap way to make long duration fuel cells.

-- The theft of platinum in car's fuel cells would be very economically viable.

-- Hydrogen is very expensive to produce with electrolysis and no service stations are built with the huge power lines and transformers to build the electricity on site. Cracking the hydrogen on site is uneconomical so no unsubsidized gas station owner will do this, even if there were some hydrogen cars on the road.

-- If hydrogen was transported to gas stations in tanker trucks, each of those big 18 wheeler sized tanks will fill up 20 cars, because hydrogen gas has such a low energy density.

-- Commercial hydrogen today is made from cracking methane (releasing CO2 into the air). This just adds to the greenhouse gas burden and converts the methane (which can be burnt now in natural gas cars) into a form that is more dangerous and less efficient.

-- Hydrogen needs heavy steel tanks (mass reduces range) or high tech carbon-carbon composites (explode during crashes). Both take up a huge amount of storage space. I ran a propane truck for a few years and lost a 1/3 of the truck's bed to the tank. And propane has a higher energy density than hydrogen.

Hydrogen cars are a total economic impossibility in several different respects. See the book "Energy Victory" by Dr. Robert Zubrin for more details why the 'hydrogen economy' is impossible.

We will need liquid fuels (such as gasoline or methanol) for the foreseeable future. Electric cars are a serious contender for people traveling a couple hundred km or less.

Warm regards, Rick.

Zero-G vanishing bone issue solved, says prof

Thumb Down

Why zero gee to Mars?

In Dr. Robert Zubrin's Mars Direct plan, the upper stage of the rocket is kept tethered to the space ship by a 100 m long cable. The two are spun to simulate Mars' gravity. Use Mars Direct plan and avoid 6 months in zero gee entirely.

Warm regards, Rick.

Gov consults on biofuels-quota postponement


Lots of money says Ethanol / Methanol is NOT the way to go.

Currently the USA is sending 1/2 of a trillion dollars per year to Saudi Arabia (the largest & fastest transfer of wealth from one country to another in the history of the world). The House of Saud are using this money to fund terrorism, buy up media companies and gain a controlling interest in all of the top 500 companies in the USA. Strangely, solutions to this problem are ignored or attacked in the big media.


As for the person who says that methanol is corrosive, flammable, poisonous etc. I suggest they take a nice long bath in a tub of gasoline. Or they might consider reading "Energy Victory" by Robert Zubrin.

Warm regards, Rick.

Mazda takes RX-8 for a spin on 'hydrogen highway'


Hydrogen is not green! - Hydrogen economy is a fraud

See "Energy Victory" by Robert Zubrin for more details, but Hydrogen is certainly not green. Hydrogen is made industrially by breaking up natural gas. The inefficiencies of the process means that you would go further (greater energy density) if you used a natural gas vehicle. Additionally you would use less fossil fuel if you drove a natural gas vehicle.

Finally the natural gas is safer and easier to use than hydrogen. (The tiny H2 molecule is notorious for leaking out of seals and even thru solid metal. This leakage makes the H2 vehicle even less efficient as well as creating a fuel air explosive in enclosed, poorly ventilated spaces.)

Hydrogen is less green that natural gas which certainly is not carbon neutral.

Aussie has answer to save Earth from asteroid attack


Bomb makers studied using nukes...

... and found that they were not very efficient at moving big asteroids. Big asteroids are like trying to push around a mountain or a mountain range. Light pressure gives a VERY small acceleration. I wonder that it would be enough.

Rwanda fires up Africa's 'biggest' solar plant


Power on demand

When an engineer talks about a power plant producing 10 MW of power it is power on demand at any time of the day or night. If Solar Power plants are to compete fairly, you should include the inefficiencies of storing power.

However, if 90% of the power generation is non-solar, and the solar helps at peak times (to run air conditioning for example), it can be useful.

Warm regards, Rick

Southern Ocean calls time on carbon sinking


On the science of the suggestions.

We burn fossil fuels because they are a dense energy source. No one is going to pump CO2 to space, it would take the energy that we burnt to release to do it.

Plants do take CO2 and release O2. (Exception, at night this process is reversed by by a very small amount.) However, the reason that we don't have huge algae and plankton blooms to take advantage of the CO2 is that in those waters they ALSO need, iron, phosphorous, potassium, etc. etc. It is not lack of CO2 that stops plants from taking up the CO2 but other needed elements.

This is very bad news folks.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019