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Comment Re:Extra battery? (Score 1) 244

They are. I have a 15000 mAh unit; two, 2.4 ampere outputs. Wouldn't be without it, can't really, at least unless the companies making the cellphones stop putting too-small batteries in them. last weekend I drove five hours, during about 3 of which we were either completely out of contact or only in distant contact with a cell tower (Montana... lots and lots of empty space.) When we left the city, my phone was at 25%. I kept the phone (a Galaxy Note III with an aftermarket "big" battery that's good for about 48 hours here, where we're within about 4 miles of a cell tower) plugged into the external unit for the entire trip, and when we got home, the phone was at 100% and the external unit at 45%, which allowed for both charging it and running it.

Really, won't even consider being without that external unit. As for a pager... no. Just no.

Comment Are there better uses for this technology? (Score 1) 108

As I recall compressing and storing hydrogen is a very expensive process. One problem is that hydrogen likes to destroy most metals. Any piping, compressor, or container must be made of expensive metals or lined with glass or something.

I recall reading several articles over the years about the Navy working on a process to turn hydrogen and CO2 into hydrocarbon based fuels. The hydrogen would be from cracking water. The CO2 that is dissolved in the water would be extracted for the process. If this fuel cell technology can improve on the process of producing hydrogen from water then the seawater to jet fuel process could be more viable.

I might be mistaken but hydrocarbon liquids can store hydrogen in a much smaller space than any compressed gas. I recall that not even liquid hydrogen can not beat fuel oil on hydrogen per volume. If this is true then it would seem that storing the hydrogen as a fuel oil might be more viable than compressing into heavy and expensive tanks. There's a few bonuses for storing the hydrogen as a hydrocarbon, even if it means cracking the hydrogen off again to run the fuel cell to produce electricity. A liquid hydrocarbon can fuel cooking stoves, trucks, battle tanks, helicopters, and even generators. Hydrogen can only really be used in a fuel cell.

It's interesting that this can store energy as a hydrogen gas but how does this compare in cost, weight, and volume to more traditional systems like lead-acid batteries? The military might have needs that make this viable for them but in a non-military environment this does not seem practical at all. The government is willing to spend a lot of money to save on things like time, space, and weight, but they have their limits. Unless they can make a case for civil uses I doubt this will go far in the military.

Comment Re:Sounds good... (Score 1) 108

"For places where water is in short supply like California, why isn't every power plant being built near the sea, where they can use seawater for cooling? It'll have to be a two-stage cooling circuit with a heat exchanger to prevent corrosion from affecting power generation systems. But that's already what's used in nuclear plants so there's no new engineering which needs to be developed there. Do this and 1/3rd the energy from burning coal, oil, or nuclear can go into generating electricity. The remaining 2/3rds of the energy can go into desalinating seawater. "

The reason I heard this doesn't happen is because the waste heat is not at a high enough temperature to make desalination affordable. The resulting water is not boiling hot like what is needed for evaporative cooling, just merely lukewarm.

What might change this is the use of high temperature nuclear reactors like liquid fluoride thorium reactors, or LFTR. A LFTR can reach temperatures where the final output is hot enough to boil water. One might add an additional turbine stage to turn this energy to electricity but at that point the percentage of energy retrieved is so small that it would likely not be profitable, making clean water would make more economic sense. Other uses for this heat could be heating for buildings or a number of industrial uses.

Water cooled power plants like coal, natural gas, and solid fuel nuclear reach temperatures of about 300C. LFTR could get to 600C or 800C which makes desalination off that waste heat possible. The primary turbines would not be steam like a coal plant but open loop air or a closed loop gas.

There are other benefits to LFTR besides making water desalination and electricity production relatively easy and profitable. A primary benefit is that it cannot melt down like a solid fuel reactor, it is very safe. LFTR can also produce a lot of other beneficial byproducts like medical radioisotopes, without the undesirable byproducts like weapon grade plutonium. It will make plutonium but of a quality that is nearly useless for weapons but very valuable for energy.

Comment What of political contributions? (Score 1) 181

In the USA there is (or at least was) a cap on how much a person could contribute to a political campaign. If there is a law that all transactions must have the option of payment in cash then what happens to the caps on political contributions? I suppose there could also be a law that any payment to a political entity must have record keeping to prevent... what would you even call this? Is it "abusive" contributions?

Personally, I do not believe there should be a cap on political contributions. I suppose it is possible on some level that a political entity might abuse this and theoretically "buy" an election. What I fear more than bought elections is a candidate or lobbying effort being silenced because of some accusation of record keeping abuses. The abuse of a government entity regulating how I, or anyone else, might choose to spend my money on supporting a policy or candidate frightens me more than some billionaire buying up all the billboards, TV ads, and radio time.

Let people speak freely, and that means giving money to any lobby effort or political campaign they choose. Paying in cash is certainly one way to make that easier. If I walk into John Jackson's campaign offices with a grocery bag of cash to fight the campaign of Jack Johnson then no campaign contribution limits should allow the government to arrest me for doing that.

Comment Re:OK, science is settled, now do something about (Score 1) 554

On a deaths per joule comparison nuclear power wins over them all by a large margin. Do you think that people don't fall from windmills and rooftop solar panels? People die.

Also, people in Fukushima got more radiation by flying from the area than if they stayed. Chernobyl was barely a first generation reactor, it didn't have modern safety features like a containment dome. The answer to this problem is not to stop building nuclear power plants but to build more so that we can afford to decommission power plants like those at Fukushima.

Japan shut down all their nuclear power plants for a while but were forced to restart them. This is because without nuclear power they had to resort to dirty, unsafe, and expensive coal. Wind, solar, and tidal power would cost us more in money and lives then even building more Chernobyl type power plants.

Thankfully we don't have to build another Chernobyl, Fukushima, or Three Mile Island to keep the lights on. We can build fourth generation nuclear power, reactors that are safer, cheaper, and more reliable than even the already very safe, cheap, and reliable first and second generation reactors that caused us so much panic.

At a minimum we should at least have some government funded research in nuclear power like we have government funded research in wind, solar, and tidal. We have much to learn on nuclear power, and claiming we cannot harness that power safely is like claiming we should not invest in Tesla motors because the Model T and Pinto were unsafe. A modern nuclear reactor would not be built like those at Fukushima.

We can build much better nuclear power plants but we've held ourselves back because of failures of completely unrelated designs. Failures that, BTW, involved very little cost in lives and cleanup when compared to the alternatives.

Comment Re: The best part about this... (Score 1) 128

A possible counter argument is that this person that is black listed from the private sector because of a past with the FBI could then find work with NOAA predicting hurricanes, DARPA working on lots of stuff, NASA doing astronomy and physics, or a number of public universities doing just about anything.

Blacklisting someone because of a past with the FBI might be a dick move but perhaps we could let them redeem themselves by doing something beneficial for society for a few years before we drop them from the list.

Comment Re:Asinine (Score 2) 128

The federal marshals work for the judicial branch. Their mandate is to search for escaped prisoners and such, people that have already been convicted of a crime. The FBI is tasked with the enforcement of federal laws, which has some overlap with escaped prisoners and such but the federal marshals don't have much overlap with what the FBI does.

The FBI not having arrest powers is an interesting idea. Let the FBI investigate but once it comes time to arrest then let the local sheriff perform the arrest. This works on areas within a state boundary but falls apart in federal districts, territories, and so forth. These areas could have a local equivalent of a sheriff for the purpose of enacting arrests but then they'd be employees of the FBI in every way but name.

If you want to talk about pruning federal law enforcement powers then I propose doing away with the DEA and BATFE. These are enforcement agencies that have powers that overlap completely with the FBI, so roll them into the FBI and do away with the separate agencies. An FBI that is busy with tracking down child molesters, kidnappers, murderers, arsonists, and what not might not then bother with handing guns to drug dealers like the DEA and BATFE has done.

Comment OK, science is settled, now do something about it (Score 1) 554

Let's assume that the claim is true, we've studied the problem sufficiently to the point that we understand the problem and therefore our need for people to work on climate models and so forth is diminished. Let's also assume that while we can do away with some climate studies we cannot end it completely since we will need to monitor progress and guide policy.

So, what should we do? It seems that many of the people in positions of power talk a lot about doing an "all of the above" approach. This means doing anything and everything that can possibly reduce our carbon output. We've seen PSAs telling us to turn off the lights in rooms we aren't using and to turn off the tap while brushing our teeth. We've seen government subsidies for solar panels, windmills, corn ethanol, and electric cars. What's missing here? IMHO, we've got government support for every tactic to fight global warming except the one that has the best chance to reduce our carbon output with the least cost and smallest impact on our daily lives.

That solution is nuclear power.

Any politician that claims that the government needs to fund this and support that and ignores nuclear power is not serious about the problem. This tends to lead me to think that global warming is not the problem that they claim. It also doesn't help that they'll chide me for driving my light truck while they fly in jet planes all over the world. They have a meeting of the world powers on how to combat our carbon output, flying all these people there to meet, and all they've agreed to do is meet again in five years to talk about it some more.

I thought global warming was the greatest threat this nation, and this planet, has ever faced. Yet these people don't seem to be acting like it is.

I'm not convinced that global warming is a problem based only on the actions of the people with the ability to have the greatest effect on the carbon our modern society produces. If these people were convinced on the problem we faced then we'd see them talking about nuclear power. If they cannot bring themselves to bring up nuclear power as part of the "all the above" strategy to fight global warming then I can only conclude that they fear losing votes more than they fear the end of civilization. A true believer would not be concerned about the next election, they'd be concerned about the next century.

Comment seawater to jey fuel sounds better (Score 1) 156

The US Navy has been working on a process that derives hydrogen and CO2 from seawater as feedstock for synthesis of hydrocarbons. Methanol is nice but hydrocarbons are better. We know how to store, transport, and efficiently burn hydrocarbons. We don't know as much about methanol.

Also, it sounds like the seawater to jet fuel process is in its final stages of development, needing only enough funding to prove its viability. This air to methanol process sounds like its purely theoretical now.

Comment Re:Things that I wish wouldn't keep getting repeat (Score 1) 336

So Potassium is a great example of internal radiation, which is in biological equilibrium with your body almost always.

What really freaks laypeople out is when you tell them that radioactive potassium in their body gives off anti-matter. For the curious, K-40 sometimes decays to Ar-40 by emitting a positron and a neutrino.

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