Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fusion breakthrough?

Perusing the science pages as I am wont to do, I came across this little snippet about a Reversed Field Pinch experiment that produced an interesting result.
A discovery made in the RFX-mod Reversed Field Pinch (RFP) fusion device demonstrated that if one keeps on increasing the current, above 1.5 million amperes, the helix becomes very smooth, the trapping of the plasma in the magnetic fields improves and the plasma gets hotter. Moreover, the helical state appears to be the preferred one at high current and is spontaneously chosen, or self-organized, by the plasma. RFX is a large RFP device (ten cubic meter plasma) located in Padova, Italy.
One of the traditional problems with fusion containment in general is that it becomes 'disorganised' past a certain point. The exciting thing about this piece of news is that the Plasma can be made to self organise into a helix, reducing containment issues.

If true, this could be a radical step forward towards the goal of Fusion power. Self organising plasma, who'd have thought?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

En Passant

Just passing the old blog and felt I had to make mention; lots of Volcanic and Earthquake activity over the past year. Chaiten, all the volcanic rumblings and eruption around the Aleutian Island chain. Haiti and Peru with big Earthquakes which seem to be easing their way up the American side of the Pacific rim, and now Iceland with an event some are already comparing with the 1783 Laki Event.

Could be interesting. Certainly a correlation with low sunspot activity, but then, correlation is not causation. What with all the Sulphur in the particulates, and a chance of Hydrofluorine, some form of acid resistant clothing might be politic for our European cousins.

All those spanking new windmills and solar panels might prove a waste of time though.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Advertisements for debate

Looks like the Heartland Institute is trying to do some media awareness. Good adverts, but will the politicians and mainstream pay any attention? Probably not. Too many vested interests with an eye on the 'carbon' dollar out there for that.

Hat tip to A Dog named Kyoto.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

What would happen......

Just idle musing you understand; but I wonder what would happen if you built eight, (or six, or four) Tokamak type devices and arranged them standing on their sides in a circle, with one side of each donut shaped device cut so that the plasma torus developed within each devices circular magnetic field intersected in a central magnetic 'pinch' chamber. Like in the two diagrams below.

Given that if the right conditions are created, Nuclear Fusion can and has been achieved within Tokamak type devices, but not enough to match the power input; if the plasma contained within each of the six toroids of plasma was run up to near fusion temperatures, by running six plasma streams together at a central point in a open ended 'pinch' type magnetic containment chamber, would that create conditions of heat and pressure sufficient within said magnetic 'pinch' chamber to induce a near-continuous Nuclear Fusion reaction without quite such a massive amount of initial energy input as ITER or other similar projects?

Supposing that the right hydrogen / deuterium fuel mix is injected into the eight (or six, or four) plasma toroids the rest is down to creating the conditions where such a reaction will make place. Heat, pressure, velocity, and leave the rest to the laws of Physics.

Of course my idea could be complete rubbish, but given what I've read recently, it sounds just as likely than some of the other concepts I've read about. In the words of Lewis Carrol's White Queen "If you can believe six impossible things before breakfast."

Back to Manuscript revision.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Cloud Mystery

I don't know about anyone else, but I find a lot of synergy with this clip;

I think Henrik Svensmark's theory has legs because it does show a link between cloud formation and cosmic rays which has been public since Wilson's work on cloud formation in the early 1900's. I find myself agreeing with most of the content for the following reasons;
  1. The 'greenhouse effect' of water vapour makes the minimal effect of CO2 look positively ineffectual.
  2. The Sun is a variable star and is apparently heading into a prolonged minima.
  3. Svensmark is experimentally demonstrating his postulation, not just using speculative computer models and 'adjusted' data which do not accurately reflect reality.

Interesting stuff. Certainly more credible than the CO2 lobby's "We can't think of anything else it might be".

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Misleading headline

As an occasional big game fisherman who has handled live sharks of eighty pounds and upwards during a tag and release programme; could I make the suggestion that any one (Or at least their executors) who reads and acts on the following headline; "Sharks can be cuddled like dolphins, say scientists" should sue the media outlet responsible in the case of injury or death whilst trying to mishandle a shark.

Whilst it is true that there is little chance of injury whilst handling some of the smaller species, up to and including the tropical Zebra Shark, there is a significant risk factor associated with trying to anthropomorphise some of the larger species. Sharks are like any other wild creature, and react badly to being crowded by humans. They have a tendency to bite, and even small to moderate sized specimens of the Blue Shark (Prionace Glauca) have teeth resembling that of a circular saw. I've seen said teeth close to, you won't catch me trying to get all Walt Disney with them. Christ on a bike! Some people do make misleading statements.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Current reading

I'm currently reading "Sun in a bottle" By Charles Seife which is the story of the various failures of nuclear fusion development since the mid 20th century. Having read the comments I think that many of the detracting reviewers missed the books whole premise. It isn't about the successes, it's about the failures, which is how we learn what not to do things.

My own thoughts are that the book is an interesting and informative look at past mistakes in the development of Nuclear Fusion, what went wrong, and also how fusion has been made to work, albeit very inefficiently. What it isn't is an 'attack' upon those working in the field of Nuclear Fusion research. It rightly criticises those who have been fanatical or fraudulent, but in a roundabout way also points the way forward.

Am making alterations to my MSS 'A sky full of stars' to take on board this new information.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

You want a what where?

Living where I do and fishing as a hobby, I think I've cultivated a reasonable understanding of the locale. Tides, wildlife etc.

There is a company from Alberta which wants to develop the Cable Bay area, which covers a piece of currently unmanaged woodland from the Cable Bay Trail in the West, to the Eastern shore of Dodd Narrows across from Mudge Island. No problem so far. New developments going in all the time around Nanaimo. It's a growing place, even with the world economy in the state it's in.

One of the things I've heard is that the company wanting to develop the area want to put a Marina in the area. My brow furrows in perplexity because the narrow channels in the area make for some quite tricky navigation at certain states of the tide. I know this from trying to fish in Dodd Narrows, which at anything but the brief period of slack water is troublesome to say the least. Mostly the tidal flow jogs along at around four to six knots (just under 7mph or slightly over 11km/h). During neaps and springs the tidal flows are reputed to reach sixteen and a half knots (Just Under 19mph and around 30.5km/h) in the neck of the narrows, which is well above the 10km/h coastal speed limit in BC. Certain types of craft can zip through without noticing if they give it some serious welly. On the other hand, trying navigate against the tide, or even with it in say a sail boat with a relatively small auxiliary engine at the wrong time can prove at best embarrassing, or at worst, alarming, although no one has been killed down there for quite some time. At times (about twice a day) the Narrows look like a set of white water rapids. Even further down where we live, some rather ugly looking vortexes form and you can hear the tide as a sort of background roar.

Local opinion goes that the developers of Cable Bay will try to 'flip' or sell on the land when permission to develop has finally been approved. I have no axe to grind one way or another, but my own thoughts are; they want to put a Marina where?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pollen & Wolf

Now we're finally seeing some vaguely springlike weather, the Birch buds have broken and there's grainy pollen all over everything. Cars, windows the lot. We had a small Herring run, but a month later and much smaller than last year, although it was big enough to bring both Steller's and California Sea Lions into Dodd Narrows. A few days ago there was one California Sea Lion (Steller's don't bark) barking away somewhere North of Round Island at about eight in the morning. Then there was a shot and there was no more barking.

At Easter we were graced with a raft of Surf Scoters ululating as they took a break on their way somewhere; they're later than last year too. Local legend has it that everything is much later than usual. Although this year we haven't had the Black Tail Deer plundering our tulips like last. Little sods. I've been getting in a little fishing, although I seem to keep missing the right state of the tide. Neighbours have suggested I try my luck at a place a couple of miles hence where there's a nice steep drop off close to shore.

Oh, and there's been a couple of Wolf sightings so local gossip informs me. I wondered why Dog has been kicking up these last few nights. He must have been hearing the call of the wild.

Have purchased a copy of the Writers Market Guide, and the next month or so will be punting my MSS around Vancouver and Toronto, see what turns up. If nothing, then I'll try further south and see if I get a bite from there.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Reject slip

A letter of rejection has arrived on my doorstep all the way from a literary agency in London, England. I was half expecting it, but the Agency concerned spoke well of the quality of writing, but used the old chestnut that the subject matter was not in a genre they dealt in. I knew I was taking a long shot, but the result is not wholly displeasing.

Maybe I ought to try an Agency in the same time zone and see what happens. At the very least the postage will be a lot cheaper.

I'll revisit the 'Cerberus' and 'Sky full of stars' MSS over the long weekend and get myself a copy of a Writers handbook that lists reputable literary agencies in BC or the Western USA. See what happens there.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Just had a look out of my kitchen window while making a cup of well-earned tea and noted a lot of bird activity over on the shore of Mudge Island. I'll go and have a look with Dog in a while and see if there is an early April Herring Run going on. It's a month late but what the hell.

If this proves to be the case, tomorrow I will purchase that new fishing rod I've been promising myself and renew my salt water fishing licence.

Anarchists, an observation

Have been following the news from G20 in London with a wry twist of my mouth.

Two main observations;

First upon the protests;
Is it my imagination or was there a bigger press pack then there are protestors? There seemed to be a small (50 or so, no more) bunch or rioters and another 4000 'others' which I believe ran the political gamut from left to right with another 1000 or so hangers on and the addition of several hundred reporters of one sort or another.

Second upon the venue;
Why central London? You could just as well have used a better venue with a more easily secured perimeter. Helicopter the delegates out from their various pads for the beano at the more easily secured venue, and back again when they were replete with fatted calf and taxpayers dollars etc. Job done.

Secondary observation;
The soi-disant 'Anarchists' wouldn't last five seconds in a real world 'Anarchy'. People like me would have seen them coming and shot the bastards, or they would have crossed one of the more forceful members of the 'business' community and ended up doing something useful for once in their wastrel lives, like feeding hungry animals. I used to know a few self styled 'Anarchists' many years ago, and all of them were pretty sad and not terribly bright specimens of humanity.

No matter; life over here goes on, and I have work to do.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Current weather & current reading

More 'global warming' in the shape of snow and sleet today. Having seen the stupid people who insist that man has any appreciable effect on the worlds' climate, despite clear cut evidence to the contrary, (Polar Bears fine, No predicted cataclysmic climate effects evident, rather chilly don'cha think) are so blinded by their own scientifically illiterate dogma that they think anyone with an alternative opinion is mentally ill; I've given up commenting on other climate related blogs. Only a new ice age will convince the pro AGW crowd, but even if that were to come to pass I have the horrible sinking feeling that even when the last of them is being hunted by hungry Polar Bears across the Icy Tundra of just for the sake of a laugh, let's say Florida, they will still think that the climate is all the fault of those nasty SUV driving bunch of 'deniers'. Oh gawd.

By the by, Have picked upon this Ayn Rand meme that is going around and begun to read her work to see what all the fuss is about. Have completed 'We the Living' (Movie link here) and 'Anthem' and heard her speaking in old interviews about her philosophy of 'Objectivism'. I find her work surprisingly easy to read despite it's literary reputation, and extremely hostile to any authoritarian collectivist doctrine such as communism or socialism, yet I do not feel so far that the policy of enlightened self interest as espoused in her novels is any more attractive than Anarchy. This opinion may change.

Current book open on the bed stand is 'Romanitas' by Sophia McDougall. Like the story, but her style is a little opaque for my tastes. Still plugging away at it nonetheless.