Monday, November 20, 2006

Spinachy Fields Forever

From Rich Magahiz' Frabjous Times
You can blow me down cause Iā€™m Popeye the
Sailor Man
I yam what I yam
And nothing goes down better than
Spinachy Fields forever
Read the rest...
Permalink 6:55 PM

Nanotechnology for Desalinization

Again in ScienceDaily:
Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have announced they have developed a new reverse osmosis (RO) membrane that promises to reduce the cost of seawater desalination and wastewater reclamation.
Reverse osmosis desalination uses extremely high pressure to force saline or polluted waters through the pores of a semi-permeable membrane. Water molecules under pressure pass through these pores, but salt ions and other impurities cannot, resulting in highly purified water.
The new membrane, developed by civil and environmental engineering assistant professor Eric Hoek and his research team, uses a uniquely cross-linked matrix of polymers and engineered nanoparticles designed to draw in water ions but repel nearly all contaminants. These new membranes are structured at the nanoscale (the width of human hair is approximately 100,000 nanometers) to create molecular tunnels through which water flows more easily than contaminants.
...With these improvements, less energy is needed to pump water through the membranes. Because they repel particles that might ordinarily stick to the surface, the new membranes foul more slowly than conventional ones. The result is a water purification process that is just as effective as current methods but more energy efficient and potentially much less expensive. Initial tests suggest the new membranes have up to twice the productivity ā€” or consume 50 percent less energy ā€” reducing the total expense of desalinated water by as much as 25 percent.

Kyle has been interested in cheap desalinization for years. It has tremendous potential for defusing future conflicts over water supplies in places like the Middle East and the American West.
Permalink 6:05 PM

Wireless Energy Transmission

ScienceDaily reports on new technology being studied by Marin Soljacic, an assistant professor in MIT's Department of Physics and Research Laboratory of Electronics:
Soljacic is looking forward to a future when laptops and cell phones might never need any wires at all. Wireless, he said, could also power other household gadgets that are now becoming more common. "At home, I have one of those robotic vacuum cleaners that cleans your floors automatically," he said. "It does a fantastic job but, after it cleans one or two rooms, the battery dies." In addition to consumer electronics, wireless energy could find industrial applications powering, for example, freely roaming robots within a factory pavilion.
I've often thought that wireless energy transmission was potentially a huge field, but I could only think of two ways to make it work:
  1. Transmission of the power in the form of microwaves/lasers, which had the drawback of possibly frying anyone passing between the power source and the target.
  2. The use of "buzz lines"; a stream of tiny robotic insects that carried a tiny amount of fuel from some source. I don't think that's a serious contender, but it might work in a science-fiction story...
Permalink 5:40 PM

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Alternate Universe: Zell Miller Prevents 9/11

Lance Manion has an article explaining how Vice President Miller could have saved the day:
...with Miller on the ticket, Gore becomes President. Which means no 9/11 and no War in Iraq...Incidental to that, Zell Miller doesn't go nuts.
Permalink 11:15 AM