March 1, 2010 archive

Pique the Geek 20100228: Energy from Fusion. Overview

Nuclear fusion is often proffered as the final solution to our energy needs.  That well may be, but hardly anyone understands what it means, and almost no one, outside of physicists, knows how it relates to nuclear fission (the power source that we use now).

It all has to do with Dr. Einstein’s simple, but seminal equation, E = mc2.  This means that mass can be converted to energy in a huge fashion.  Let us take a kilogram of mass, any mass, and convert it to energy.  Using the formula, and it has been proved over and over to be correct, one kilogram of mass (think of a big sirloin steak, for example) becomes a LOT of energy.

According to the equation, that kilogram of mass becomes thus:

E = (1 kg)(2.9979 x 108 m/s)2  = 8.99 x 1016 Joules

This is almost 90,000 billions of Joules.  We are talking big energy.  But it does happen quite like this.  Only in matter-antimatter annihilation does all mass become energy.

Overnight Caption Contest

Pique the Geek 20100228: Energy from Fusion. Overview

Nuclear fusion is often proffered as the final solution to our energy needs.  That well may be, but hardly anyone understands what it means, and almost no one, outside of physicists, knows how it relates to nuclear fission (the power source that we use now).

It all has to do with Dr. Einstein’s simple, but seminal equation, E = mc2.  This means that mass can be converted to energy in a huge fashion.  Let us take a kilogram of mass, any mass, and convert it to energy.  Using the formula, and it has been proved over and over to be correct, one kilogram of mass (think of a big sirloin steak, for example) becomes a LOT of energy.

According to the equation, that kilogram of mass becomes thus:

E = (1 kg)(2.9979 x 108 m/s)2  = 8.99 x 1016 Joules

This is almost 90,000 billions of Joules.  We are talking big energy.  But it does happen quite like this.  Only in matter-antimatter annihilation does all mass become energy.

Sunday Train: Rescuing the Cardinal from Demise

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence



When looking at the famously mis-titled “Vision for High Speed Rail in America” map trotted out last year, showing those of state-planned High Speed Rail corridors that have already applied for and received official designation as High Speed Rail corridors … there are ghosts on that map.

The Ghosts of Trains Past, also known as the Amtrak long distance routes.

As discussed on November 8th of last year in Rescuing the Innocent Amtrak Numbers from SubsidyScope, some of these ghosts are healthier than others. One of the ones in the most dire shape is the Cardinal, responsible for the only line on that map that enters either West Virgnia or eastern Kentucky.

Why it does so badly, and how it might be fixed up a bit, after the fold.

Ageism, Assumptions, Tokenism, and the Hope Beyond

After meeting this morning I was approached by a Friend (fellow Quaker) who seemed deeply impressed at my latest vocal ministry. The first question she asked was “So, how long have you been here?”

I suppose I could have taken some offense to this, based on the fact that I’ve shared messages regularly, with a five month break in between, for nearly a year and a half. Though we had never talked directly, I knew her face and I certainly knew her through her words and her participation in First Day worship. That it took a particularly powerful message to give her the inclination to speak to me at all is something I lament. After all, I never know what message the Light of God is going to grant me from week to week, and while certainly I am pleased when it makes a major impact upon the worship service, any message I speak is no more or no less blessed nor inspired by the Divine.

Part of what I’m dealing with, unfortunately, is ageism. In surveying a very large cross-sample of faith communities, I have discovered that they are often disproportionately comprised of the middle aged and above and sometimes comprised almost exclusively of senior citizens. To their credit, I recognize that many faith groups have taken the initiative to address this directly and have coined acronyms, buzz words, and clever titles to draw more younger worshipers into the fold. The intent is often noble, but the follow through is frequently less than a rousing success.

The reality is that when you’re in an older community, it’s a lot more difficult to be taken seriously as a young person. As has been evident with me, you have to really prove yourself first. So far as “young” is concerned, I’m only a few months away from 30, so I’m not exactly fresh out of adolescence anymore, but even those of us quickly entering the third decade of existence are all too often not nearly as involved or even as inclined to share vocal ministry or actively participate in meeting functions. I, of course, am different in that regard, quite deliberately so, and while I appreciate the fact that my regular participation often encourages those in my general age range to show up, I am also often the only person younger than say, 45, who feel comfortable or moved to share a message. I know that there are others my age who would not shy away from opening their mouths and sharing with the rest of the meeting their own inward, equally valid stirrings of the Light.

If only this phenomenon pertained purely to faith communities. It is true in many organizations, regardless of political allegiance, ideology, cause, or any other metric. Just as before, those who are younger than the statistical mean often have to deeply impress the regular participants before they are considered part of the whole. If they are incorporated at all, they are sometimes included merely as an afterthought or as a token member, meant to serve as the entire voice of a generation, when surely we have realized by now that one person alone can never serve as the mouthpiece for a very diverse, highly unique group of people, regardless of their superficial similarities.

I recognize, certainly, that this is a habit pattern more than any desire to exclude. It’s easy for us to get lulled into submission by The Way Things Have Always Been Here™. This is why I am not particularly outraged by this sort of behavior as much as simply annoyed and inspired to speak out against it. It wouldn’t take much to correct this kind of willful slumber if we were willing to embrace the idea that change is neither incomprehensible, nor threatening, nor some sort of zero sum game whereby we somehow lose what we have at the expense of someone else. We all gain from opening our eyes a bit wider and with that comes the richness of greater participation and the wealth of insight which exists when many different people contribute their own voices and their own experiences.

We might recognize then that we are made stronger and more enlightened, not less so when we see the beauty of life’s pallet projected upon a canvass of our own creation. We might understand that there is more that links us together based on our common humanity than the few superficial differences exploited by those who aim to keep us separate, not just from ourselves, but also from God, who craves our collective unity as much as he loves each of us equally and without condition. If we learn these lessons, we will have that which drives us and propels us forward towards the change we know we must have.

My prayer is, as it has always been, that we will reach this point, someday.

Don’t start bumping your bigoted d***heads just yet.

At least of couple bloggers I read fairly regularly have cited Kanazawa et al. Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent. Social Psychology Quarterly, 2010, based on press releases.  The actual article is DOI: 10.1177/0190272510361602, but unless you have a subscription, the journal is charging an outrageous $32.00 fee to download the article. (I’ll get back to that.)  

PZMeyers, an evolutionary biologist and blogger at Pharyngula, has already sounded the warning on the predictable self-congratulatory praise for the findings expected from liberals and atheists.

Meyers says:

Stop patting yourselves on the back over this study

Good grief. This ridiculous study is making the rounds of the atheist community, with its claim that liberals and atheists are smarter than conservatives and religious people. Look at the numbers!

Young adults who identify themselves as “not at all religious” have an average IQ of 103 during adolescence, while those who identify themselves as “very religious” have an average IQ of 97 during adolescence.

Seriously? Show me the error bars on those measurements. Show me the reliability of IQ as a measure of actual, you know, intelligence. Show me that a 6 point IQ difference matters at all in your interactions with other people, even if it were real. And then to claim that these differences are not only heritable, but evolutionarily significant…jebus, people, you can just glance at it and see that it is complete crap.

Politics and Visionary Poetry

offering

Political Poem

by

Nightprowlkitty

as tho there is

any reality

to politics

that can be

grasped ever,

ever,  never,

it is smoke,

it is elaborate

costume of

deception created

to capture

our attention

in spiderweb of power

enchanting us to believe

there is separation

between ourselves and each other

and the sky and the earth.

politics cannot contain

our fierce fire,

our fresh air,

our loving waters,

our humble earth,

our limitless space

with no boundaries

never boundaries

always free

always liberation.

Old tales

are helpful,

stories of humanity

from every corner

of the world

leading to the roots,

waiting for us,

waiting to feed us,

to welcome us home.

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