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Comment Makes me think about STEM education! (Score 1) 161

I'm an old guy and after periodic immersions in STEM classes have started thinking we should reverse the way subjects are taught. I'd get more out them if they were used to build a house (on paper) or flashlight with its parabolic reflector, or in the market (stock and super) to find best prices, etc. So we'd work from the finished product back to the concepts of parabolas, statistics, electronics, weight distribution and vectors. I guess this is the case study method and seems better than word problems as I've never had to determine when I'd meet someone driving towards me on a road at 50mph when I was moving towards them at 60mph, but did have to understand how much dirt a buried house roof could carry. Is this reasonable?

Comment Re:Distributed Power Generation (Score 1) 293

Community produced power is a national effort by citizens to help address the need to reduce carbon production. One of the examples, the University Park Solar Project in Columbia, Maryland, ( is discussed in the last five minutes of the Jan 6, 2012 Marketplace Money episode ( Makes you wonder how much power could be produced if the roof of every church in the United States was covered with solar cells while bumping up the church treasuries and returning a percentage of investment to parishioners who fund the ventures as was done in this example.

Comment Re:Coincidentally... (Score 1) 293

Our automatic whole-house generator has anti-islanding gear which is readily available and not expensive.

Battery technology is improving on many fronts making it a storage that can be strategically located and coupled with various types of intermittent supplies to offset spikes and drops, as well as long-line issues. Perhaps an increasing number of electric cars plugged into the grid will provide another future load-leveling element.

Comment Re:Steam Tubine Application (Score 1) 114

I've not heard this ever being tried, though it's reasonable. Seems more likely to work with leaks occurring outward rather than the inward type in this situation. At one time in the nuclear industry flames and associated smoke were used to find inward type leaks until the flame was sucked into a hole where it ignited some wiring insulation, caused a fire that was difficult to extinguish and pretty well eliminated use of the approach throughout the industry. That flame approach was also used where less turbulent air flow existed than around the turbines and turbulent air would make smoke trails difficult to detect and follow. Perhaps some objection could also be made to the smoke being sucked into a very carefully controlled steam environment which would require chemical analysis of the smoke product. This would differ in fossil-fueled plants versus nuclear plants with a greater concern for public safety.

Comment Steam Tubine Application (Score 2) 114

I worked at a power station with steam-driven turbines where this sort of sound camera could be very useful. The discharge side of these turbines are kept in a vacuum state to pull steam through more efficiently. Unlike most leak where you see or feel what's coming out, vacuum leaks suck inward and sound is the best way to locate them. The ambient noise in a power station prevents use of ears until you're mere inches from the source and several people could spend days in that type of search. The only aid we had was a sound detector tuned to the frequencies normally produced by a vacuum leak. I never found a leak using one and think very few were ever found by other users. (We just slapped tape and other sealants on likely trouble spots and waited to see if relevant gauges changed.) This would also be a great place to look at bearings for a range of motors and pumps as well as motor and air-operated valves for signs of air leaks and failing parts. Great technology. Hope it pans out.

Submission + - Broadband Failure Talk by Susan Crawford (

virginiajim writes: "From Harvard's Berkman Center: "In the Internet era, a very few companies control our information destiny.
In this talk, and in her new book Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age, Susan Crawford—a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a former special assistant to President Obama for science, technology and innovation policy—demonstrates how deregulatory changes in policy have created a communications crisis in America. The consequences: Tens of millions of Americans are being left behind, people pay too much for too little Internet access, and speeds are slow. But everyday people can change this story—and what happens in the year ahead could change the game for good."

Submission + - Single-shot handgun and rifle law

virginiajim writes: "I've talked with a number of hunters and handgun owners about the best way to limit these mass killings of civilians in schools, malls and similar places by deranged shooters. The best solution so far is a law limiting civilian possession to single-shot handguns and rifles. Do Slashdot-ers think this would be a reasonable way to reduce abusive use of these tools?


Comment Church roof top solar projects parishoner funded (Score 1) 735

Community produced power is a national effort by citizens to help address the need to reduce carbon production. One of the examples, the University Park Solar Project in Columbia, Maryland (, is discussed in the last five minutes of the Jan 6, 2012 Marketplace Money episode: Makes you wonder how much power could be produced if the roof of every church in the United States was covered with solar cells while bumping up the church treasuries and returning a percentage of investment to parishioners who fund the ventures.


Submission + - Simple Networking Cards Improve Communication (

virginiajim writes: "Fifty-four minutes into this podcast ( is a professional shout-out for Networking Cards used for the first time at the American Society for Microbiology conference in San Francisco in June. The 4x6 inch cards produced for free by summarized most of the growing number of poster presentations used to quickly expose new ongoing research. Sets of 25 cards were produced for each of 3,300 posters, a total of 82,500 cards. They allowed viewers to quickly collect information for later use rather than reliance on scribbled and possibly illegible notes. Are there other ways this simple idea can be applied at meetings, conferences, schools, seminars, malls or at work? Quarzy discontinued an online viewable posters and a feedback system isn't in place to determine how the cards or the online viewing idea have been received. Is this concept useful, or just another flash in the pan like Post-Its."

Comment Re: Question (Score 1) 708

1. You may be able to do the same work, but in another country. I know a math major about your age who worked at a nuclear power plant and was sent to China last year to work as a consultant on a new nuclear plant being placed into operation. He's a black guy, not Asian. You often have to move within the US as a career develops, so why stop at the boarder. 2. For perspective and possible insight go to and listen to any of the podcasts that look interesting. All of the speakers are specialists and experts on topics related to economic matters and no topics are dry or uninteresting. And speaking about perspective is what this TED Talk is about, which may also help: 3. Buy a copy of "What Color Is Your Parachute" at or check a copy out of the library. That book has been around and reissued/revised for at least 20 years. It can help you learn about yourself and perhaps create a new job, even in your present organization. Perhaps you can get $1 million or two from! Someone here mentioned folks fighting over the same piece of pie which reminds me of a comment about finding a way to grow the pie larger. 4. More perspective and ideas may come from a reading of "Reflections on Bullough's Pond" at . It offers insights and explanations about New England's economic development over the last 400 years that apply today and may offer ideas about your organization and career. 5. Further into left field is this: the Conversations Network is looking for editors of podcasts it offers for free via the internet. It pays a nominal amount for each description submitted and at any given time there are about 100 podcasts in need of being so described. What's neat is that it makes you describe the interesting work of a variety of people, so you have to do some creative thinking, some creative writing, and use your internet skills while learning about work in other fields. This is a non-profit organization, so a career with it won't be your goal. However, the exercise might be useful. Other members of your family, etc. might also be interested. Here's the link with information about how to apply -- a small exercise in job hunting, too: Good Luck.

Comment Power plants are like tank farms (Score 1) 582

I live near a nuclear power plant that produces 1.9 Gw within a few miles of a large population center. Why can't spare batteries be charged there as well as any power distribution yards then trucked to distribution points just as fuel gets to gas stations? Nuclear plants produce surplus power at night and this one probably still uses its to pump water uphill to a reservoir that than runs water back down to hydro-generate power during peak periods. The new batteries may be a cheaper investment for a power company than additional transmission and distribution lines. Distributed power in batteries provide other advantages during power outages that gasoline in underground storage tanks at gas stations do not. Problems certainly exist, but if production and recycling costs are reasonable, this would be a great resource. Charged batteries pose hazards, of course, just like petroleum products, but can still be moved exactly the same -- train, boat, barge, truck, even planes -- and provide more opportunities by way of local charging from solar and wind. Maybe I can supplement my retirement in the country with a windmill that charges batteries I swap with neighbors? Wow!

Comment Podcasts (Score 1) 377

Here's a link to a short article about podcasts which has a long list of web sites at the bottom with excellent podcasts where can find enough material to easily fill most flash drives and customize the material to the recipient: . (Full disclosure: I wrote the article.)

Comment Lucentis to cure MD (Score 1) 134

I have to make a big subject change because I just heard this Johns Hopkins podcast about Lucentis being used to stop and somewhat regress MD. This may be equally useful knowledge to having aids: You have to scroll down to the bottom of the page and look for Lucentis to find it. There's a power point presentation on the subject, too.

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