Saturday, June 18, 2011


Tech finds a way. Packing the Ions presages a new way to store energy and release it in ways thought to be impossible until now...

Gogotsi's team discovered you can increase the energy stored in a carbon supercapacitor dramatically by shrinking pores in the material to a seemingly impossible size—seemingly impossible because the pores were smaller than the solvent-covered electric charge-carriers that were supposed to fit within them. The team published its findings in the journal Science.

The mystery was not simply academic. Capacitors are an important technology that provides energy by holding an electrical charge. They have several advantages over traditional batteries—charging and discharging nearly instantaneously and recharging over and over again, almost indefinitely, without wearing out—but they also have drawbacks—most importantly, they hold far less energy.

An electric double-layer capacitor, or supercapacitor, represents an advance on the technology that allows for far greater energy density. While in traditional capacitors two metallic plates are separated by a nonconducting material known as a dielectric, in a supercapacitor an electrolyte is able to form an electric double layer with electrode materials that have very high surface areas.

As such, supercapacitors are able to achieve the same effect within a single material, as properties of the material divide it into separate layers with a very thin, nonconducting boundary. Because they can both forgo a bulky dielectric layer and make use of the carbon's nanoscale pores, supercapacitors are able to store far more energy than their traditional counterparts in a given volume. This technology could help increase the value of energy sources that are clean, but sporadic, meting out stored energy during downtimes such as night for a solar cell or calm days for a wind turbine.

In effect..."It uses graphene on a substrate and a polymer-gel electrolyte," Sumpter explained, "so that you produce a device that is fully transparent and flexible. You can wrap it around your finger, but it's still an energy storage device. So we've gone all the way from modeling electrons to making a functional device that you can hold in your hand."

Localized fabbing and energy production via flexible high efficiency/cheap solar combined with artificial photosynthesis (and storing this energy using this kind of tech) is key to moving civilization into a sustainable economy environment because the status quo is no longer viable even though the powers at be are trying keep the old bus going while the tires begin to fall off and the engine ceases to run. To see why staying the course is crazy, check out the world's debt and the state of the crumbling Eurozone to see, in part, why.

“Our senses enable us to perceive only a minute portion of the outside world.” - Nikola Tesla

On Foot

This evocative image Walking on 125th Street, created by Nicola Villabrings to mind just how far out of touch we are when it comes to distance, something not even considered when driving to a store 6 miles away, something that would take  Josey Wales an hour  to cover (Clint's a biggie with me) as the average speed of a walking horse over distance is about  6 miles per hour thus confining Josey to a very small territory in which to mete out justice to the bad guys. (At a gallop, The Pony Express averaged nine mph over 25 mile stages.) If Josey lost his horse and was on foot, his "average walking speed is about 5 kilometres per hour (km/h), or about 3.1 miles per hour (mph)."

I write this after reading a long tract from Cluborlov, an excellent site created by an Russian engineer who, as Kurt Vonnegut would say, knows of such things regarding economic collapse, sailing and the dire consequences of running out of energy, something our society is reluctantly beginning to face as we move further into the 21st century. While I don't wholly agree with Orlov on his take regarding a dark future for civilization, (Tech has a way of changing things thank god) I greatly respect it as his argument is persuasive and nuanced, characteristics all to rare in this age of packaged information designed to entertain and divert in order to keep real news at bay while we watch American Idol and wait, with baited breath, to see if  NFL football will come to pass, two "important" events that have absolutely no impact on one's life save that of our being entertained while conveniently ignoring issues that do impact our lives, i.e.,  climate change, energy depletion  & fiscal/governmental meltdown.

"A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things." - Herman Melville

Friday, June 17, 2011

Be Afraid, Very Afraid

Whistling Past the Graveyard, a post regarding the Fukushima disaster, does not begin to describe the magnitude of just what happen to Japan when the earthquake and tsunami hit the largest nuclear power plant in the world.

"Gundersen worries about more earthquake aftershocks, as well as how to cool two of the units.

"Unit four is the most dangerous, it could topple," he said. "After the earthquake in Sumatra there was an 8.6 [aftershock] about 90 days later, so we are not out of the woods yet. And you're at a point where, if that happens, there is no science for this, no one has ever imagined having hot nuclear fuel lying outside the fuel pool. They've not figured out how to cool units three and four."

Gundersen's assessment of solving this crisis is grim.

"Units one through three have nuclear waste on the floor, the melted core, that has plutonium in it, and that has to be removed from the environment for hundreds of thousands of years," he said. "Somehow, robotically, they will have to go in there and manage to put it in a container and store it for infinity, and that technology doesn't exist. Nobody knows how to pick up the molten core from the floor, there is no solution available now for picking that up from the floor."

Dr Sawada says that the creation of nuclear fission generates radioactive materials for which there is simply no knowledge informing us how to dispose of the radioactive waste safely."

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods." Einstein

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Flag Day

"The Big Banks Have Sold Us Out. Democrats And Republicans Have Sold Us Out. No One Is Defending Our Interests. Our Future Is Going Up In Flames. It’s Time For Us To Stand Up And Defend Ourselves"

BRT rarely does political rants, (maybe sometimes...:)) but the June 14th Flag Day Rebellion Against Economic Tyranny sounds like a winner to me as this is not about conservative vs liberal or libertarian against social progressive but rather about a financial and political system run amok, a corrupt institutional environment that has systematically stolen our money and has plunged this nation (and Europe) into fiscal bankruptcy, something unimagined back in the halcyon days of Ike and JFK. BRT has discussed at length how this came to be in posts about the Fed and the WS banks and how they run the show, something that cannot continue if we are to survive as a nation.

The Anonymous OpESR "manifesto"
presented in their first video states the following:

“We are a decentralized non-violent resistance movement, which seeks to restore the rule of law and fight back against the organized criminal class.

One-tenth of one percent of the population has consolidated wealth in unprecedented fashion and launched an all-out economic war against 99.9% of the population.

We are not affiliated with either wing of the two-party oligarchy. We seek an end to the corrupted two-party system by ending the campaign finance and lobbying racket.

Above all, we aim to break up the global banking cartel centered at the Federal Reserve, International Monetary Fund, Bank of International Settlement and World Bank.

We demand that the primary dealers within the Federal Reserve banking system be broken up and held accountable for rigging markets and destroying the global economy, effective immediately.

As a first sign of good faith, we demand Ben Bernanke step down as Federal Reserve chairman.

It took nearly a hundred years for a private institution to destroy the economy, the question to ask is, what are we going to do about it?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Converting Dollars to Bits the Right Way

As readers well know, BRT has written extensively about the foibles of the financial system. What has not been discussed is this blog's opinion about gold and silver as the support mechanism for same, something that was done for millennia prior to the central bank's recent success in turning money into a fiat entity created from nothing and backed by nothing. (Similar to religion but at least one has a fiat item in hand when buying a Starbucks or something else of intrinsic value. :))

Using gold or silver to back a financial system appears, on the surface, to be the way to go but other then quantifiablity and relative rareness of the metals in question, neither gold, silver or any other nobel metal does nothing of use unless used in tech, medicine or science, something to think about when attempting to create a financial system able to replace the fubar the central banking system has created for the world.

Enter Bitcoin, a system who's time's has come, hopefully.

What problem BitCoin solves:  Mathematically, the specific implementation of the bitcoin protocol solves the problem of "how to do all of the above without trusting anyone".  If that sounds amazing, it should!  Normally a local currency has to trust all kinds of people for it to be able to work.  So does a national currency.  And in both cases, that trust is often abused.  But with BitCoin, there's no one person who can abuse the system.  Nobody can print more money, nobody can re-use the coins simply by making a copy, and nobody can use anyone else's coins without having direct access to their keys.  People who break its mathematical "rules" simply end up creating a whole different system incompatible with the first.  As long as these rules are followed by someone, the only way BitCoin can fail is for everyone to stop using it.

This marvelous quality of not having to trust anyone is achieved in two ways.  First, through the use of cutting-edge cryptography.  Cryptography ensures that only the owner of the bitcoins has the authority to spend them.  The cryptography used in BitCoin is so strong that all the world's online banking would be compromised before BitCoin would be, and it can even be upgraded if that were to start to happen.  It's like if each banknote in your pocket had a 100-digit combination lock on it that couldn't be removed without destroying the bill itself.  BitCoin is that secure.

The notion of trusted entity being the driving force for finance is something almost totally overlooked by everyone including yours truly. :)

Whether or not payment processors ought to be telling us how to spend our money online, the fact is they can. We rely on third parties to transact online, and when government wants to restrict how we can spend money online, it's these intermediaries they turn to.

To transact online, you have to have an account with a third party like PayPal that you trust will follow your payment instructions. There's been no such thing as "online cash," no currency that could be exchanged untraceably between two persons without a third party intermediary--no such thing, that is, until now.

Bitcoin is the first online currency to solve the so-called “double spending” problem without resorting to a third-party intermediary. The key is distributing the database of transactions across a peer-to-peer network. This allows a record to be kept of all transfers, so the same cash can't be spent twice--because it's distributed (a lot like BitTorrent), there's no central authority. This makes digital bitcoins like cash dollars or euros: Hand them over directly to a payee, and you don't have them anymore, all without the help of a third party.

Bitcoin could be disruptive to the max, something the powers at be are probably laughing at just as IBM laughed at Bill Gates when he "innocently" asked IBM if it would be "OK" to sell the operating system IBM was financing to other computer manufacturers on a per processor license.

The Color Red

After reading the University of Rochester's interesting article regarding the color red, it's no wonder why it's the color of choice for all things relating to war, sports and every other endeavor requiring speed, strength and quick reaction times. 

But, as often stated in BRT, there's an inevitable cost when getting up close and personal with the color red.

Red is one of my favorite colors but blue's the one by a sliver for yours truly. :)

Monday, June 06, 2011

A New Resource

A new resource for high quality content via PDF and the National Academies press is now online. Signup is a breeze and yours truly downloaded the book, America's Climate Choices, a tome who's time has come. :)

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Visualization for All

Until now, the ability to model complex systems was relegated to those that A, had access to closed systems to visualize complex skeins of data through university or corporate connections or B, had the money required to buy the apps needed to do the modeling, something many of us are loathe to do, especially if one is a dabbler like yours truly who has always wanted to create outrageous visualizations on the cheap but could not but now can thanks to  Gephi, an open source visualization platform given to the world by Stamford University and touted by Google in  their Summer of Code program, a place for students to contribute code to open source projects intended to enhance visualization endeavors ranging from new approaches to video production to creating new ways to manipulate large data sets while giving the contributors a head start to gainful employment. 

As per open source, Gephi runs on Linux, Windows and Mac and is free, something akin to beer but with longer lasting, I think, benefits vs.  the imbibing of suds but then again, I can't vouch for that given my affection for hops & barley thanks to in depth guidance from guys like Mike and Murry who know far more then I about the wonderful world of micro brewed beer. :)

Enjoy. I know I will. :)

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The World of the Small

Little flowers, water droplets and all things dealing with nature at the small scale fascinates yours truly. When viewing this, one sees how the earth can do without us without question, something to think about, don't you think?

Friday, June 03, 2011

Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air

This is an important book. Eloquent, practical and available as a freebie in PDF, MacKay gives practical info about sustainable energy without, thank god,  bloviator commentary, the curse of  corporate controlled network "news". With Global Warming now going into it's first phase transition, the need to actually do something of consequence about the unnamed 800lb gorilla residing in the living room of the world is nigh. Give it a read, your life may depend on it.

End of rant.