Results tagged “Science”

As today is my last day of my current vacation block, here is a quick overview of it.

Most of the time I spent on the term papers which so far needed much more time as I'd initially expected. It's not that I'm unable to understand it but rather that I'm unable to formulate the knowledge in my head in proper sentences which I could write down.

Nevertheless I found some time to also do some different activities altough not as much as I would have appreciated. I've been to the cinema a few times, I dug out my bicycle from the depths of our storerooms, I've paid the city of Linz a visit and also the Ars Electronica Center there which runs science and art exhibitions.

A bit of minor work here and there and that's been the roundup of my vacation. Nothing too exciting this time as the university stuff takes up a lot of time even in the holidays...

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After many years of being a brave supporter of SETI@home and in the more recent time BOINC I've decided now to stop accepting new workpackages on all of my instances and let the current ones finish. After that I'll uninstall all my instances of BOINC.

I'm a bit sorry for that but I've decided to do so because my instances were running on my work-computers and in the recent time the drawbacks like memory- and cpu-usage as well as the increased fan-noise because of cpu-heat began to overweight what I counted as my personal contribution to scientific research. Instead I count this removal now as another contribution to environment-awarenes by reducing the wear on my equipment and minimizing the power-consumption.

Farewell Seti, it has been a long journey since about 1998 when we met...

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Today the two Voyager probes celebrate their 30th year in space. Altough, 15.5 billion km (Voyager 1) and 12.5 billion km (Voyager 2) from home there won't be many participants if they started a party there.

For a quick imagination: Light which emits from the sun needs about 8 minutes to reach Earth. When Voyager 1 sends its data to Sector 001, the signal has a journey of more than 14 hours until it can be received by human devices.

For more info on this event and interesting details see the Voyager Homepage and the BBC Science News Article.

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In the last few months and years there has been an ongoing discussion about open and free platforms for scientists and researchers to collect and share their combined knowledge.

Until now there were very few possibilities for scientists, to be true I don't know a single one, to make their documents available to the public without costs. Of course, they could post their findings on a personal or corporate website but in that case they would have to set up a platform for commenting and easy access theirselves and also make this location detectable. This is too steep for most scientists.

But now Nature has set up an open and free platform, called Nature Precedings, where scientists can upload their documents and make them available for an open community to categorize, read, cite, comment, tag and most important search. It also provides RSS feeds and discussion possibilities like many of the socializing platforms out there.

Hopefully this step now speeds up the movement to more open and more accessable research in the whole scientific community.

In my opinion making research available for commenting and searching to anybody can only add more quality to the researches.

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Does your hippocampus feel strange? GET A NEW ONE:
World's first brain prosthesis

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Strange thing, I've written this article during my vacation and what happened a short time after I were back?

  • Power outage in America

  • Blackout in Great Britain


I swear, I have nothing to do with that! But could it be that I have somehow received a subconscious message? Can I feel the future? Or am I just thinking of too many things at once?
But this confirms my general paranoia somewhat.

Let's go on with the stuff that comes out of the wall. Sorry, that it's a bit outdated, but this is the way I thought BEFORE the power shortages happened.

Energy and Power
Energy consumption is increasing. The modern world as we know it today is not able to survive a single day without electrical power. Computers, fridges, even vehicles could not work and the modern economy would sink into chaos within a few hours. People today don't think about, how they are addicted to electrical energy. In the year 2000 more than 50 percent of the produced electricity relied on prehistoric energy carriers as oil and coal (see IEA Fact Sheet). As we all (hopefully) know, these reources will be depleted within the next few decades. I think it doesn't matter if they last for 40 years or for 80 years, estimations vary, in the end the result will be the same. If we begin to plan new energy production techniques THEN, it'll be too late. Luckily, today many people and companies already have realized this and are researching in areas of alternate power production technologies.

One of the most promising inventions seems to be the fuel cell. But this is only part of the solution as this lessens the need of not-renewable energy-sources only on the consumer side. The hydrogen has also to be produced and this production also needs energy. It can be produced in several ways and for the most effective technique the only thing (besides water) is electrical power (which currently is produced using oil or coal). One may ask, where the sense behind converting electricity intro hydrogen just to make a bit less electricity out of it (because there are some leaks in the conversion processes). Well, electricity has one very important flaw: It can't be stored effectively.
Hydrogen can.

In the future, when fossil materials are depleted, alternate sources of electrical power for hydrogen production will have their peak time. This will be the era of solar power plants, wind parks and biomass-reactors. And the best of all is, that the resources which are needed for them are not available in only special parts of the world (as it is today) but evenly distributed all over the globe. Everyone can take advantage of them.
This opens the opportunity to an all-new world order, with more democracy than we can imagine today. Ever noticed how often the force of a country is tied to it's access to resources? Think of America. Cut the pipeline and say bye bye.

In the days to come everyone can sell the power he produces and the 'energy-sellers' of today have to fit more into the role of distributors than producers. This conversion has to be a global process because the main source of power in the future will be solar power and the sun only enlightens 50 percent of our globe. The other side will have to live from the hydrogen it has produced over the day.

The main beneficiaries of the change to alternate energy will be the poor countries. Many of them have large, unused surface which then can be used to build huge, cheap photovoltaic power plants for example. Today's large power companies will rely on many little electricity producers instead of fossil resources under their control. Today the countries with the most resources under their control play the big roles in world politics, countries with less resources (or the opportunity to use this resources) have small roles, even if in sum they overweight the big ones.

Perhaps, if political influence keeps tied to resource-access, the whole world will be politically re-ordered and can become more democratic in the future because, as said before, the access to alternate energy sources is largely evenly divided all across the world.


Some links:
http://www.renewableenergy.com
How biomass works
How electricity grids work

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