All your science in here


#881

Oh and they have such a strong punch they can break aquarium glass. Fucking epic creatures.


#882

That’s engineering, not to be confused with science. Engineers create stuff, scientists find stuff that’s already there - ish.


#883

they are quite tasty. I remember being served them in Vietnam


#884

We can see linearly polarised light, just about. If you’re sitting in front of an LCD screen then find a white area and give it a try. It’s not easy. try shielding out any other light in the room. One way to improve your chance of seeing it is to try tilting your head. The entire visual image will tilt as you do, but the polarisation feature won’t.

It isn’t at all clear that sensitivity to polarised light gives us any evolutionary advantage nor, at least according to the Wiki article, is it clear why the mantis shrimp can.

VB


#885

Yep. Eaten in Penang :+1:


#886

#887

Children can be enthusiastic about stuff, which is great. But this is really a question of

  1. Can you afford to buy the same kit as other people have
  2. Can you put it together in the way they did i.e. the way it’s supposed to be put together
  3. Can you run it without hurting yourself in the short term (the forum reports indicate that his parents had at least a supervisory role here)
  4. When you have, can you tell whether it’s worked or not

I’d imagine this would be quite a challenge for a 12 year old though.

Sadly the problem with fusion is not making it. ‘Even’ a 12 year old can run a plasma in deuterium and detect a few D-D neutrons. The problem is making it efficient (a lot more energy out than you put in), reliable (runs continuously 24/7) and economic (generates power which can be sold for more than the cost of paying for the exercise). People have been working on that for most of my lifetime and they’re still not nearly there. In the meantime PV cells on roofs and in fields are harvesting energy from the free and perfectly good fusion reactor at the centre of our solar system …

This is not to say that some young people haven’t been genuine prodigies. Mozart was composing before he was 10 and was pretty good at it by 12. Michelangelo finished carving his Pieta when he was 24 and it’s so utterly breathtaking that I was moved close to tears when I saw it. Keats was orphaned as a child and trained as a medic until he was 19. He then turned to writing poetry. He died aged 25. The two guys in Holbein’s The Ambassadors were representing their countries in a major foreign state at the ages of 25 and 29 respectively. The 25 year old was also a bishop.

VB


#888

Are we still 30 years from commercial fusion, like we were when I was a kid?


#889

tl;dr


#890

Depends who you listen to.

Conventional tokamaks look tough. ITER isn’t expected to have DT in it until 2035 (currently) and there is a raft of problems which it either can’t see an answer to or is simply not planning to address.

Laser fusion promised big, mostly on the basis of the US’s giant computer modelling efforts, and then expensively failed to deliver. Unfortunately the model is the same one they use to predict how their weapons stockpile is doing (it’s changing due to radioactive decay but they can’t actually test an occasional device to check they still work because of the test ban treaty). So the model is highly classified and therefore not open to the sort of independent scrutiny which might explain what’s wrong with it. In the meantime Congress, not unreasonably IMHO, turned the money off.

Spherical tokamaks might work. The people on the trading estate up the road are hoping to be putting electricity into the national grid by 2030.

Across the pond some ex-MIT people have taken money from the Italians and are hoping to have a machine generating net power in 15 years. Mostly they seem to be concentrating on magnets though. Which are not the only problem.

Lockheed Martin made a video saying they wanted to make a fusion power plant small enough to fly in, and power, an aircraft. It would be 20 years before it was supplying electricity to the grid, but only 10 years before it could power a vehicle and 5 years before they had a prototype, That was coming up to 5 years ago. I wonder how it’s going (they’re a defence contractor, so they aren’t saying) ?

A somewhat whackier scheme based on shock-driven implosion is being checked out on the other side of Oxford. They’re not making any timescale promises. I’d be pretty unconfident about this except they’ve got Steve Rose on their Advisory Board. He’s an ex-colleague of mine and a very smart bloke indeed. But for all I know the only advice he’s given them is not to make any timescale promises.

VB


#891

I bloody love videos like this.


#892

#893

Amazing. Let’s hope it can be made cheap enough.


#894

Certainly needs to be cheaper than just evaporating and re-condensing the water.

VB


#895

Presumably those desalination plants work by a contraflow system, so the condensing water warms up the incoming water? Could these get pretty efficient?


#896

Ooh reverse osmosis is the thing, it seems.


#897

TBH I don’t know. I think the evaporation is quite often done by solar power. There needs to be something cool for the vapour to condense on. Perhaps that’s the pipes carrying the incoming feedwater ? But you can’t let that get too warm or the condensation would stop working. It’ll come down to the numbers, of that I am sure.

Reverse osmosis is a thing indeed. But that needs the water to be pressurised and the membranes also need preparing and using with a good deal of care.

VB


#898

Didn’t they support Rick Wakeman on his 1977 tour?


#899

Quite possibly


#900

Great find.
“Reverse Osmosis” must be their tribute band. :grinning: