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Saturday, July 31, 2010

JET – Europe's largest Fusion Device

JET – Europe's largest Fusion Device
Fusion Research Still Steady.
There are two other major projects which I will collate here soon.

Why is this notable ?

Its one of a couple of emerging technologies that if even half perfected will radically change the way energy is used ...

Radically as in abruptly slamming what and how we undertake most economic activity.

This is here really to remand myself to do a real overview of the state of the art as publicly accessible. Unfortunately there are a heap of conspiracy theories and false hoods "out there".

Other promising technologies in this vaguely non-renewable big science area (?) :

Thorium reactors
Zero Point Energy
Cold Fusion

All those 3 have some level of real claim to validity in spite of the impression you may get from the "popular press".

Its important to know about these because:
1/ The status Quo type are probably sacrificing 3rd World babies to various Deities to exploit them

2/ If they are workable they have the potential to dominate the entire energy sector of at least this planet.
(I'm serious)

3/ As they approach they make the bankers nervous about funding private sector Green Power initiatives

4/ Ditto Government Sector but multiply with all sorts of Strategic / Military / Trade considerations.

5/ Potential exists for the Current Corporate Lobby Industry to exploit propagandise (is that a word) them as the Final Solution... Just stick with the current deal while you fund our next Trillion for us ... etc.

Imagine enough cheap energy to say:
Crack almost nay metal (probably any current Industrial metal) out of Ocean Water.
(including Gold Platinum Lithium Aluminium Iron Tungsten etc, ( Possibly Uranium ? Plutonium ? )

There goes the Global Economy as we know it :)

Hey it might even be a good thing !

More later.
have a heap of old pdfs to grind through (maxwell etc)

ALP Think Tank - Home

ALP Think Tank - Home

The ALP has a section of their website called the Think Tank.
Here members may suggest policy ideas, even discus and help refine them.

The tone of the site seems polite enough, perhaps surprisingly so.

here is a direct cut and paste :

Green Jobs and a Competitive Advantage in Renewable Technology
by Obutters from Sydney , NSW at Thursday, 15 July 2010

Australia should have a goal to foster a competitive advantage in developing renewable energy technology and to have the world's most skilled 'green' workforce.

The industrialisation of the world's most populous countries - India and China, will put an enormous premium on our natural resources, but also on alternative energy sources.

We keep talking about the 'Green Jobs' of the Future - but they are not going to come out of the ether with a market-knows-all approach only.

The Government needs to take an active role in helping our best and brightest people to develop the new technologies to provide the foundations for the jobs and new industries of the future through, (for instance):

- Coordinating Industry and education institutions to establish education and training courses to train and develop skilled workers.
- Establish special 'green economy' technology zones in coal dependent parts of the country (i.e. the NSW hunter, Latrobe Valley in VIC) to give incentive to the best and brightest in the world to work and establish their businesses in those places likely to be hit by the shift to renewables. Special tax concessions should be given.
-Keynesian style government investment in nation building solar, wind, water projects. Funding should be based on fostering local skills, technology and innovation.

These policies would prepare the economy for the inevitable shift to emissions trading. When the global market for carbon is eventually established, whether it is 5 years or 25 years, By implementing these policies now - Australia can get ahead of the curve and capitalise on the future global demand for clean energy, much in the same way as we have benefited through our natural endowment in primary resources.


Great stuff.
At least its a well thought out idea, and quite well put.
Perhaps this is the sort of thing the Citizens 150 panel will look into ?

Still no point hanging about while we all chat ... lets get on with it Julia and Penny.
(Please, Pretty please :)

References:

The think tank entry page

Friday, July 30, 2010

NoVelo Human Powered Vehicle | The Urban Times

NoVelo Human Powered Vehicle | The Urban Times

Gotta have one !

ACF - Scorecard

Nice graphs from The Australian Conservation Foundation
ACF - Scorecard

Randomness follows:

I can understand the greens being ahead, but Labor is also dropping the ball on environmental husbandry, let alone remediation or forward design. OK they are damaged by the poison they drank trying to build consensus with the "Libs"...

Its interesting that they chose the Grid for immediate , if somewhat timid, action. This seems sensible at least. The Cash 4 Clunkers thing is important for engaging the sovereign (people).
Nothing in Labors underpowered plan works against fast action , and relatively soon.

As for the libs, well I would Roll On the Floor Laughing if there were no chance of them winning this election.

Really Obstructionist Born-To-Rule White Ants should have a less mono-cultural view of the world.

Their plan seems to be do just enough to maintain a legal credibility for use in International Forums , as those forums may effect trade ...

... then um "Action" plan probably thing goes ...

Shudder

A: build 20+ Nuclear plants REAL fast I expect.
LOL probably from imported processed Uranium.

A.1 Exploit and sell side effect:
AU may as well use those strategically.
(after all Indonesia China Japan NKorea India Pakistan Iran (n+ others) will have U-plants...
make one or more the bad guy of the day)

B: AND / OR Roll out expensive and ineffective volumes Carbon Sequestration

- If the tech is still not ready blame the "overpaid" Consultants / "Scientists"
- Use this as an example of yet more "mismanagement"
- Throw a few Billion in tax / royalty / excise breaks at the Corporates as "Compensation"
innovation jobs creation, leadershi ... (keeps Unions and "Foriegn Investment" Happy.
- Blame resulting fall in dollar and rise in reserve rates on Socialism or something.
- Also a great excuse to run down the Balance of Trade again which is how they always fund non spending on Infrastructure. (that sentence is correctly structured)


C: AND: Make some legalese argument that Not mining/burning as much Coal == cuts to green house quotas.

D: spread cubic kilometers of lignite (Brown Coal) over some irrigation required (for productivity and social equity reasons you understand) farmland, and claim this is carbon sequestration (see C)

- the idea is not a bad one but you know they will manage to stuff up the environment even more with this. AKA "the only good gum scrub is firewood (oops biofuel)"

E: Plant rolling Mono-cultures of timber plantations, and ignore the Kyoto protocol cutoff dates. see D and read productivity synchronization or some other weasel speaks
E.1. Claim this is carbon storage, bio-fuel production.
E.2. Roll-out a 150% tax incentive scheme that underwrites the mod sized corporate (they will say rural) constituency/donor/lobby sector.
E.3. Then implement a Cap and Trade, so that the Market can create a whole new industry bubble to burst 2 years after they loose the last free election in what was Australia.
E.3.1 ( no one will really win that war )
E.4. Retire to the Walled and Secure zones where they will sit on management boards for life, if an non minister or receive deferred "NOT fees" for "Special Consultancies" if their Super is at the higher rate... Anybody left over and a little costly socially can be an Ambassador to say Italy.
;>

The sad scary observations:
- this fits their white colonialist / squatter mindset (well to be fair not all of them are like this)
- they will arrive inevitably at that Atomic "moment" with or without a "plan".

Funny thing is by the time they build any one of A or B it will probably be obsolete...
The Fusion project in Europe will probably be ready by then :)
(Sure it will)
OK hopefully E.3=>4 are Over the top
:)

Developing General-Purpose Plastic with Strength of Steel (Press Release) — SPring-8 Web Site

Quote:
" As part of Promoting Technology Transfer and Innovation by JST, Masamichi Hikosaka, a specially appointed professor, and Kiyoka Okada, a doctoral researcher at the Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University, have succeeded in developing a sheet-type recyclable ultrahigh-performance general-purpose polymer at a low cost that has a specific strength higher than that of steel and is light enough to float on water. "

[ Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) ]
Hiroshima University

see:
Developing General-Purpose Plastic with Strength of Steel (Press Release) — SPring-8 Web Site

Random Thoughts:

Just when you thought plastics had reached maturity
How about some good old polypropylene with
a stable operating temperature of 150 degrees C
higher tensile strength than mild steel
still floats on water
low cost
And Readily recyclable

This has gotta have good long term benefits for the environment:
Especially the Recyclable feature.
It should be able to replace steel in many applications
Should be able to replace non recyclable engineering type plastics

The idea would be applicable to other plastics families.
Or perhaps to any crystalline type material that has a controllable "plastic/ colloidal(?)" state. ( Nah now I'm dreaming :)


Even so the applications are pretty endless if so. This produced sheet type material rather than cast, extruded or blown ... but the approach should be extensible.

Perhaps one day a bio(feedstock/grown) type plastic ?
(very low carbon footprint potential)

I wonder how this effects other properties like dialectics , electrical/photonics resistance, flame propagation, impact resistance etc.

Perhaps a better battery or capacitor ?
(Oh well at least you may be able to replace the case the thing lives in :)

Does it come in Pink ?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Price On Carbon Currently a Hindrance

--First Draft ---
This need breaking up and LOTS of work and editing .

A price on Carbon ?
Well lets assume we actually mean "Greenhouse Gasses"
What we are asking of this mechanism hanging off a few innocent molecules is truly V A S T .

Sure.

Its not the objective though its just a tool.

How effective it would be is debatable in any case, how quickly it would work even more so.
It would surely help a transition to a low carbon economy, but its not all thats required.

Essentially the argument for it goes:

Add a price (albeit artificially) to a system and Mr. Smiths "invisible hand" of the market will magically find you the best and cheapest solution. Both major parties and many industry "Lobby Groups" ( "foyer groups" just don't sound right ) seem unable or unwilling to move away from that mechanism at all. Its the ONLY way. Anything else will pollute the ideological self admiring beauty of it.

Well OK thats fine. Its remarkably like saying all swans are white though.

As a development mechanism this is arguably less reliable than a Windows desktop.

It can and demonstrably _will_ deliver you something you already have, much more efficiently.
Over time.
We do not have a lot of that time thing.

Remember this is the same invisible hand that delivers broken software, the ethically challenged goods and consumption that break our planet, no real content differentiation on any Television network anywhere, _commercial radio_ etc etc. All good things in some sort of moderation.

It _might_ do as asked, it _might_ even deliver a whole new swath of technologies.
It is probably, over time, a great idea.

A price mechanism alone is unlikely to get us to a new system quickly enough, or importantly with enough diversity.

It is likely to (also) deliver an entire new industry based around trading leveraged options in shares of the same somehow evil gas. That may even be a "Good Thing", it keeps the ASX and the Prestige "widget" factories ticking. Someones gotta buy all those black suits.

Most fundamental technological breakthroughs have not arisen from pure market forces.
The enabling and defining technologies of this era grew from military and related needs.

The Internet is a notable example:
the protocols designed around delivery of a robust distributed network that could direct interceptors (fighter aircraft) toward strategic bombers during a potential nuclear conflict. The hardware platforms that host the "net" come from a similar heritage (add Apollo as an accelerator) etc etc.

Now this is not to dismiss the "hands" fecund effects on cost and performance.

99+ percent of capital investment happens _after_ a new technology, paradigm or modus is proven and established. (then usually to the point of pure waste, even dehumanisation). Think of Tulips, Dot Com bubbles, Sugar and Cotton slavery, 1800s Taylorism etc.

The potential and even realised disasters we have seen with privatisation of public utilities:
Power - California or even SA
Water - South America , UK
Telecommunications - Australia
Fossil Fuel extraction - Globally

These systems nearly always end up demanding IP and or physical Monopolies to deliver some version of efficiency and stabilty. That is they often work to EXclude competition.
Its only nature at work here of course.

A definitive example of this is the petrol (gasoline -- it is called that because ?) engined vehicle. Why do we still drive the things ? They are stupidly inefficient on any number of levels. (Most nations that build the things do so as they need solid industrial capacities to re-fight WW2)

The barriers to adoption for a new transportation technology are simply massive. The increment of improvement would need to be an order of magnitude for wide adoption. Which is why electric cars are being made to be as much like ICE cars as possible.

What we need is an efficient low impact system for generating, storing and distributing energy.

Given our current global infrastructure that energy needs to be presented as Electricty at end point.

Consider it took somebody with the organisational skills and gravitas of General Monash to initiate our electrical distribution system that has grown to what we have now.

We are asking a mob called the Market to jump at least as high.
It never has before, it didn't it the US when they first built there national grid, it helped for sure just as it did when it got a free ride to build the railways. Did we ask the farmers to build our rail system, or the snowy scheme? (we did it collectively/nationally because ?)

Putting a price on carbon will make building needed new infrastructure even more expensive.
Material toward a greener economy should probably be exempt. We all know that they will just claim it as a business expense in any case. (or rort the thing somehow, its just what "they" / "we" do)

Put a price on "Carbon" but understand it wont actually deliver much that is new.

First we are going to need some robust way of generating delivering and securing our energy supplies, ALL of them. This wont be a single technology and I would argue nor should it be.
ANY system based on one idea is inherently fragile , hostage to forces of nature conflict and the market alike. Lets at least try not to make that mistake again.

This nation is blessed with the resources knowledge skills and other capacities to build what we need and build it so well that it may serve duty as a model for others, and an exportable commodity for us.

We need not wait for a price on green house gases, though that will help. We need to start yesterday on rolling out distribution systems , core pilot plants and control and monitoring systems. If need be these should be subsidised until the gas taxes are in place. Which indirectly is an argument for a Carbon tax I suppose.

There is great opportunity here if the market can be helped through those first dangerous steps.

First Draft Only ----










Lets set aside issues like guts and leadership.
Those are hard to define or measure.

QandA

Watched ABC TVs QandA tonight. QandA  http://abc.net.au/tv/qanda/

I haven't watched it for a long time as it often seemed to degenerate into a platform for politicians to strut in.

(in spite on Tonys efforts)

Tonight however was well worth watching. This was a return to real politics with debate and commitment.

Q&A
Monday 9.35pm

Joining Tony Jones on the panel were Penny Wong, Malcolm Turnbull, Christine Milne, Graham Richardson and Tom Switzer.

This was the first program after the "Great Debate" (cough).


There were many highlights, all participants went well at some point , with the notable exception of Tom Switzer whose idea of making an argument seems more like asking you to accept the assumption that any world view not does not correlate  to Margret Thatcher's is suspiciously limp.
That said he did make his point well a couple of times. (though without offering any way forward).



Penny Wong was as cool/warm and brilliant as ever, I am increasingly a huge fan of hers.

Graham Richardson is still a "harden up and get on with it" sort of guy whose courage and honest pragmatism  always impresses me. His defence of Penny Wongs stand on Gay Marriage was old school brilliant.

I agree with his defence: we ask leaders like Penny to self immolate to our own detriment.
I tire of this from people who never seem to see the achievement, guts, painful compromise and plain slog it takes to be an effective public figure. They never seem to get the difference between tactical and strategic.  Though, hey I can usually understand the sentiment!

Malcolm Turnbull, is often above the stupid "new speak propaganda" "disney sloganeering" that passes for dialog from the Liberal Party in particular.
He is able to hold an informed and intelligent discussion with only just enough party speak to ensure I never could vote for him :)

I have a lot of respect for him in his current role and even more so for his past leadership on the Republic Issue. He may be the last liberal in the Liberal Party.

Then there is Christine Milne.

Sigh.
Over time I have actually mistaken her for a Liberal Party attack Harpie.
She is much better than that. Much better.
Her beliefs appear honest and are backed by good research and conviction.


I guess its just her way / style but whenever she debates she often resorts to "we're holier than thou" or even plain old " my footy club is better 'cause its not yours ... so there"  arguments.

Just like the Libs.

(Though it must be said without the "born to rule" subtext.)

She has great knowledge and great communicative abilities, but even when asked a walk in gimme by a "non fan" in the audience, around an area she has almost expert knowledge, she chose instead to see the question as an attack on the greens as being "airy" or something.
After the launch of the Greens 2050 plan and the Zero Carbon 2020 plan I was expecting this guys lack of homework to have him enrolling in an engineering course at the very least.

Now yep, the question was negatively (almost rudely) premised, and it was a question asked from the safety of near anonymity, some ignorance [1], and with a hint of a sneer.

Mz. Milne could easily have rolled out more detail on the economical and technical advantages of a Carbon free economy AND got in the quote of the night which was "Without an Environment there is no Economy".

Unfortunately it looked defensive when in fact the Greens really are the only ones with a plan for a new economy _and_ a better environment.
Once again it seems we are all too stupid to understand a real answer or something...
Perhaps that is right, but couldn't she at least hope !

<
Using the Standard righteous Liberal party (page 27 in their "Actioning Argument"  manual I expect) approach  may win Senate votes from wettish  Liberal voters though.
 (I guess thats the idea ?) Perhaps this is Christine's constituency ?
 Mind , she is at least consistent. :)
>

I think though that she is underselling herself and her party, more worrying she alienates her own core constituency which is  to some extent at least looking to the Greens for a cleaner political approach.

The question was about "What are you going to do... what ARE your plans" not about "you stupid hippies have no idea" !


Penny Wongs final response to the same chap was more "contained"  and I think a little stilted as a result of Christine's ramble. Though she answered only a subset of his question. Penny also had the opportunity to lift the level around this time but missed it.

It IS difficult. I certainly could not be a politician, you have to be part idealist part shonk part barrister and frankly, brave. I get anxious at small committee meetings.. and usually lose my temper or near pass out trying not too :)

QandA finally let some air and light into the issues around this election, it exposed the facile nature of much of the Professional Commentary... and the public conversation to date.


For what its worth thanks to all concerned. Its reassuring that the party marketing departments are not making all the policy.  

p.s.

This blog will (eventually) contain other material.
There is an election on though, and I finally got round to using twitter, which led me to this thing, which i thought may be a good place to quietly but with some threat of scrutiny publish some Howtos ... so those later. :)

a Link or two:

Tom Switzer http://www.ipa.org.au/people/tom-switzer


[1] The guy hasn't even bothered to check the Greens web site.
Even it he was a neo-con stooge the answer was a missed opportunity.