I was going to write about my lack of concern over the firing up of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the world's largest particle physics laboratory but a press release by CERN issued on Sept 5, 08 sums it up quite well. From what I understand CERN is going to accelerate particles in a 27 kilometer loop of super-cooled magnets, smacking them together and “popping” into existence really heavy particles that we have never seen and probably never will. The heavy particle called Higgs bosun or God particle won’t stick around long enough to be photographed or sign autographs so how will we know that the LHC worked? By the evidence left behind. Kind of like the mess in the Family room. No one did it or saw it happen but it’s there all the same. Some groups are concerned that this particle smacking will cause the end of the world or worse, the universe. I’m with Steven Hawking and those who don’t think this will happen. “Professor Hawking is not convinced that the so-called “God particle”, which theory suggests gives matter its mass, actually exists, and in 2000 he backed his judgement by making a $100 (£50) wager with Professor Kane, who thinks it will soon be found.” Considering that all we have done on and to the planet hasn’t ended it yet, I’m not going to dig out my “The End Is Near” sign over spinning some miniscule bits around and whacking them together. But in case I’m wrong “So long, and Thanks for All the Fish”.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Who would have thought that at this early stage of the game or late stage if you are an environmentalist, that we would have too much wind power? That’s right. According to an article in the International Herald Tribune by Matthew L. Wald, nearly 200 windmills in New York have been forced to shut down due to congestion in the power transmission lines. This lack of infrastructure sounds a lot like the North American oil supply problem. In recent U.S. political campaigning one presidential hopeful suggests that his opponent’s stand against offshore drilling would be damaging to the U.S. economy. This is contrary to the opinion of many experts who say that the bottleneck is not the supply of oil but the capacity to refine the stuff. There doesn’t seem to be any incentive to build new refineries for an energy source that is going the way of the endangered species that helped create it, albeit kicking and screaming all the way. So we have two energy sources with inadequate infrastructure. Gas may be on the way out but the need for electricity is not going to go away in the foreseeable future so why not just start the process of building the estimated $60 billion cross-country backbone needed for the increased energy production from solar and wind powered sources? Fear and Greed would be my guess. Getting any sort of an agreement between the 500 groups that own the power lines and the multiple levels of government may call for federal intervention, something the U.S. Energy Department is considering. Augmenting the electrical power grid will take years and billions of dollars. It will happen because it has to happen. During that time coal fired power plants will be built (there’s always room for coal) and will contribute to the already too high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Wind farms have to be built where there is wind and it seems that most of the wind is in out of the way places. It makes me wonder what the cost of running transmission lines is compared to building new coal fired plants. Here’s a thought. If coal fired plants pollute the environment and wind farms are environmentally clean, why not scale back the electrical output of the coal burning utilities to make room on the existing transmission lines for the power from the wind farms. The result will be the same amount of energy only cleaner. Using green energy will bring down the price of producing it (economies of scale) and might just help save the planet. Reference: International Herald Tribune, Matthew L. Wald Published: August 27, 2008