Solar Farming

  • Thursday, July 28, 2011
  • Archimedes
  • Labels: , ,
  • Ever since the use of fossil fuels raised enough worries to begin a quest for a renewable energy source, sunlight has been one of the most sought after methods of power generation. From this quest to harness the sun mankind has created inefficient, but workable solar cells that convert light into electricity, along with monterous fusion reactors in an attempt to make our own "sun in a bottle". Despite these inventions, I'd say that without a significant breakthrough in either of these alternatives, we wont be able to power anything other than individual households even if they are implicated into our power grids en mass.

    Fusion reactors are promising, so I wont shoot that idea down, but why did we go through all the hassle of creating chemical substances that react with light to give off electrical energy when a much more complex but very well engineered natural substance does pretty much the same?

    Chlorophyll in plants convert sunlight into ATP and then from that, glucose. Its been around since the dawn of life on the planet, and, creation or evolution, it works at an efficiency much higher than machines. The only reason that we haven't been able to use it for fuel purposes is that the plant does not see the need to excrete fuel, only to grow and reproduce. Of the energy generated by a plant, a massive amount goes into growing its supporting structures, extracting nutrients from the soil and manufacturing chemicals used to reproduce, only a small amount by comparison is turned into stored sugar, which is of interest to us. What should be done is to engineer a simple plant cell that will at first take nutrients from its surrounding and divide for a set amount of cycles, then begin to grow massive amounts of chlorophyll and store large amounts of sugar, at a chemical que, the stored sugar is released into its surroundings, which would later be collected.

    An outdoor pool given sufficient nutrients and a sterile environment could easily house millions of such cells. Given if one cell could produce but one gram of sugar per day, the energy yield of such a pool will be much larger than if it was covered with conventional solar cells, artificially engineered enzymes and chemical cycles could be implanted onto the cells and speed up production, the whole process is very skin to a nuclear one in the sense that the energy created by one reaction is very little, but the number of reactions make the total substantial.

    U238 (depleted uranium) reactor

  • Friday, July 22, 2011
  • Archimedes
  • Labels: , , , , , ,
  • Depleted Uranium, its heavy, its hard to dispose of, it makes good armor piercing shells, and we have piles of it sitting around from nuclear reactors and mines waiting to be processed. Despite us having so much of the stuff, the fact that it is unsuitable for use as weapons grade fissile material resultes in research into its potential limited to it being incorperated into anti-tank rounds, and the fact that this stuff has the potential to power a reactor seems to have slipped the scientific community until now.
    A reactor burning depleted uranium cannot produce any weapons grade material, we can just build one and shove it over to Iran and say "look, this stuff burns cheaper fuel, gives more power, has almost no risk of a catastropic meltdown no matter how incompetent your operators are, and is way better in every respect except that you cant make a bomb with it. If your nuclear intentions are peaceful, replace your reactors with this."
    As for the reactor design itself, there is already one being looked into called a traveling wave reactor which will use enriched uranium to start a self sustaining reaction in a field of depleted uranium using neutrons released from the enriched reaction to enrich/destabalize the surrounding depleted uranium in order to keep the reaction going. Once fueled, such a reactor could run for decades before the entire field of depleted uranium is brunt, and its output will only increase unless checked for the "burning front" will increase in legnth as the reaction spreads. Despite the increased output, the fuel starts out unsutable for weapons and never actually gets close to a critical mass except when the reaction is first started, so although the risks of a meltdown are there if some idiot turned off the cooling system, the chances of the reactor turning into a bomb are slight.
    Another design I was going to propose was slightly more complex and involves a series of faceleted and interconnected chamebers lined with depleted uranium, one central chanber will have a small neutron fuse like the ones used in bombs, but neutrons from the fuse will not be focused onto one point like in bombs but released to bounce along the chamber whose geometrical design allows the escape of neutrons into a similar neighboring chamber. The neutrons arnt actually "bouncing", rather, they are exciting and causing fissile reactions whenever they hit the sides of a chamber, causing more neutrons to be released.

    Recoil Inhibitor

  • Sunday, July 17, 2011
  • Archimedes
  • Labels: , , ,
  • "If the first shot hits their feet, the second shot probably goes up to their chest, the third flys over their heads, and anything after that you are wielding an anti aircraft gun." Such were the words of a gunnery sergeant describing the effects of firing an automatic weapon from the hip without aiming.

    Over the course of the evolution of the gun, primitive muskets were made more reliable, more powerful, more accurate, and easier to reload. But as weapons got more "automatic", I think one area of development was missing until lately, recoil reduction.

    The power and firerate of small arms are still being upgraded, the US military for example has finally moved past the 5.66mm NATO rounds used by the M16 and its variants into the more powerful 7.56mm NATO rounds used by higher performance weapons such as the M4A1 and the SCAR heavy. All this advancement in reliability, weight, and firepower still resulted in the same primitive recoil reducer in the form of a rifle stock jarring the shoulder of the soldier firing said weapon, someone seems to have forgotten to tell the firearm developers that the amount of kinetic force the target receives is always less than the amount of recoil generated.

    One exception to this trend however is the KRISS Super V, otherwise known as the Vector submachine gun. It has a recoil dampening device built into the receiver which makes the hammer that fires the gun move in a up and down motion countering the up and down of the recoil resulting in a fully automatic weapon of the .45 caliber with the recoil of a pistol.
    What I propose is an add-on which will dampen the recoil of any weapon, recoil is a phenomenon which occurs in two stages, stage one where the hammer hits the pin firing the bullet, and stage two where the bullet leaves the barrel and the gasses behind the bullet escape, pushing the barrel upwards. While the KRISS solved the issue by reducing stage one recoil, I try to take on stage two. After the bullet leaves the gun, an attachment that screws onto the end of the barrel captures some of the gas and releases a spring loaded hammer downwards against the recoil. After the gasses leaves, the hammer resets itself and waits for the next shot.

    Computer Optimization (AKA the reson I coudnt post for the last 5 days)

  • Tuesday, July 12, 2011
  • Archimedes
  • Labels: , ,
  • Personal computers have become so common nowadays that we don't really appreciate how complex they are until they break down and us dumb users are left with the daunting task of fixing them. My computer recently had a fit involving a corrupt windows folder on my backup portable hard-drive and the system trying to use the bad backup as its windows folder. Whats worse than the buggy performance was that one of the first things to go was the less-than-stable driver for my internet adapter, meaning I had no way of going online and just googleing whatever problem I had. Then came the chore of reinstalling windows on a computer that dosent recognize its own hard-drive (bad drivers) and reinstalling all the servicepacks, directx, adobe flash, java, etc., and at this point I wondered, shoudnt there be an easier way to do this?

    Why dont somebody, like the manufactures who are trying to sell their computers, make a boot-able disc with all the registry, drivers, updates, extensions and all that crap pre-optimized and ship it with their products? Whenever dumb users decide to delete their drivers and system 32 folder and realize "oh crap, maybe that stuff was important" they just have to boot off the disk instead of bothering the manufacturer/retail store/tech support making life a little easier for everyone.

    Addon Video Card?

  • Tuesday, July 5, 2011
  • Archimedes
  • Labels: ,
  • Well I just got back from a trip to China and the electronics there are dirt cheap. Some nice friends of mine decided to endow me with a new laptop to replace the ancient IBM R50 I have been using for the past 7 years, but sadly said friends know very little about computers...

    The computer I received has a decent dual core processor and an upgraded 3GB of RAM, no complaints there. Its small, light as a feather and has a great keyboard, again no complaints. Its got all the safety specs that comes with the thinkpad series, but the only thing which makes it a piece of junk to a gamer like me is the integrated graphics card...

    My older computer is about seven years old, and this one is only 3, one would think that the new one would run some basic 3d fps games a little faster, but that is sadly not the case. Games that ran smoothly on my old computer were choppy and gay on my new one, and when I looked for a solution, I seemed to find only a sad reality, you cant really upgrade integrated graphics...

    I really don't think its the CPU or motherboards inability to handle a full sized graphics card, its just that its become cheaper recently to just slap a really crappy card onto the motherboard. I think if some genius out there would make a PCI splitter, the problem would be solved. I split the PCI cable used for the internet adapter, slap on another video card, the system recognizes the VGA, install a few drivers and we are good to go, right?

    If anyone knows another way to increase graphics performance on a computer with integrated graphics, please feel free to speak up...
    Copyright 2010 ArchimedesRealm