In 1872 the Arabs invented the condom, using a goat's lower intestine.
In 1873 the British somewhat refined the idea by taking the intestine out of the goat first.
H/T: Curmudgeonly & Skeptical
by gadfly1 Comment »
by gadfly1 Comment »
State and local governments should turn over garbage collection and recycling programs to the free market. Let each household decide what services to purchase, and let them pay the bill directly for those choices. Let freely negotiated contractual arrangements between households and waste haulers determine what is collected for recycling and where the non-recyclable material should go. ~Cato Institute
It seems like only yesterday when National Serv-All appeared to lose its garbage and waste disposal contract with the City of Fort Wayne -- but it happened just last fall when a start-up company with the outlandish name of "Earth First" (fortunately, not Earth First!) apparently won a competitive bid to take over the city's garbage pick-up. But politically-savvy National Serv-All hired on some political insiders to take a two-year contract extension offer to Mayor Henry, an offer he apparently could not refuse.
But "Hizzoner" the mayor could not let sleeping dogs lie. In the fit of a three-dog night, the mayor appointed an eleven member panel and hired a $50,000 consultant to design a new bidding process to solicit bids for a new trash contract. So the new contract became four separate contracts, all of which apparantly will be won by National Serv-All to make it the exclusive disposal contractor (this after two councilmen mysteriously decided to reverse previous "no" votes on the Serv-All contract). Sigh, All is well in Mudville once again. As Kevin Leininger of the News-Sentinel points out:
Disposal costs in similar cities range from $32 to $47.75 per ton, compared to Serv-All's per-ton bid of $24.70.But Gregg Walbridge, the CEO of Earth First beleives that the soon to be seven-year contract with Serv-All will turn into an monopoly that benefits no one except the trash disposal company.
Some will dismiss Gregg Walbridge's concern as an 11th-hour, sour-grapes attempt to benefit himself at a competitor's expense. But whatever his motives might be, Walbridge is right when he warns that monopolies seldom ensure low prices for customers.As was the case last year, this year's trash contract has a smell about it. It should surprise no one when I suggest that there is a simpler way to go about this business ... council needs only to pass an ordinance to remove the city from any involvement in trash collection services. According to a study by the Cato Institute entitled "TIME TO TRASH GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION IN GARBAGE SERVICE." no government involvement is the best solution.
Walbridge insists a monopoly is exactly what National Serv-All is creating by its pending purchase of a controversial waste transfer station on Pontiac Street – a monopoly he said could result in higher costs for Fort Wayne residents should City Council approve the last of four contracts with Serv-All ...
Confirming rumors ... heard for weeks, the president of Earth First said he's been told Serv-All is in the process of buying the Summit Recycling and Transfer facility at 2509 E. Pontiac St. Why does that matter? Because specifications for the city's contract required trash be disposed of within a 10-mile radius –.. meaning the transfer station or Serv-All's landfill.
Serv-All was the only company to bid for the city's trash-disposal business in July. Coincidence? I can't say for sure, and certainly Serv-All's attractive bid indicates the company was concerned about possible competitors. But four other companies, including Earth First, sought one or more of the three other city contracts for the collection and processing of recycled materials and the collection of household waste.
The necessity of government-managed garbage collection is grounded in the belief that economies of scale and collection route density result in the formation of service monopolies. The policy remedy is for government to induce competition through the use of franchise bidding in which private firms compete for the right to be geographic monopolists.Read the whole study, convert your religious recyclers, and tell Fort Wayne to get out of your trash. We could soon be to the point where the government will accept no trash, or we will all have to drive Audis.
This study finds that economic criteria do not provide a rationale for government intervention. Economies of route density do exist, but they do not provide a rationale for the current structure of the refuse-collection industry. Both municipal and franchise contract services are found in dense settings, where competition is possible, and unregulated open competition can be found in less dense settings, where natural monopoly conditions should exist.
Even where natural monopolies exist, their pricing behavior is constrained because the entry and exit costs faced by potential competitors are not large. Instead, natural monopolies in refuse collection are contestable and therefore charge prices identical to those that result from bidding for exclusive franchise contracts.
The extent of government involvement currently found in refuse-collection markets is not justified by economic criteria. Accordingly, the decision about how often the garbage should be picked up, what kind of post-consumer materials (if any) should be collected for recycling, how non-recycled waste should be disposed of, and how much should be paid for those services should be left to individual
by gadfly2 Comments »
My new (under $140) Kindle arrived about the time that I was finishing my research into the exciting concept of nuclear power using thorium. Kirk Sorensen and his colleagues over at Energy from Thorium have now convinced me that thorium is indeed the present preferred way to go in order to meet long term power demands (while at the same time avoiding the long term nuclear risks) by using liquid fluoride thorium reactor units. I have not been moved to agree that the Department of Energy and its inefficient government laboratories provide the best hope to put this LFTR technology in place immediately. Private enterprise, not government bureaucracy, has always been the bulwark of American exceptionalism and prosperity. In 1975 we dumped the Atomic Energy Commission. Now it is time to dispose of its successor, the DOE.In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present
* and is gravely to be regarded. ~President Dwight David Eisenhower
This is a work of fiction. The science described here is accurate and either already demonstrated or considered by experts to be plausible. The characters here are mostly fictional. However the character of Arthur J. Cranshaw is modeled after the late Keeve M. ["Kip"] Siegel. a professor of physics at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and successful entrepreneur. He was the founder of KMS Fusion, the first and only private sector company to achieve controlled thermonuclear fusion using laser implosion technology. On May 1, May 3, and again on May 9, , KMS Fusion achieved -- to the embarrassment of federal government laboratories -- the world's only successful laser-induced nuclear fusion ignition.The actual claim of the achievement by KMS of a controlled, laser-induced, nuclear reaction was made on May 13, 1974, but Time Magazine pooh-poohed the idea.
Professor Siegel died on March 14, 1975, under mysterious cicumstances while testifying before the joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy. He was testifying about government obstruction of his company's (successful) research efforts. With his death the property rights of KMS Fusion were essentially looted by the federal government and its race to achieve nuclear fission was fatally crippled. No laboratory has yet achieved what KMS Fusion achieved in [1974.]
Lately scientists have been turning to a more efficient tool for creating fusion: the laser. By heating a tiny pellet of deuterium or tritium with a powerful pulse of laser light, they cause the explosive evaporation of the pellet's surface. As the material sprays off, the rest of the pellet implodes. The hydrogen nuclei are thus forced together. [. . . ]The Access to Energy newsletter believes that Time was wrong:
But scientists are not yet certain that the burst of neutrons that characterizes such reactions is produced by true thermonuclear fusion or by the collision of relatively few fast-moving atomic nuclei in the compressed deuterium or tritium.
KMS had no such reservations about its work. It claimed to have produced true thermonuclear reactions in its various pellets. But when scientists looked a little closer at KMS' own disclosures, they noted an apparent inconsistency. In a letter to stockholders, KMS conceded that the experiments produced only a small number of neutrons—between 5,000 and 10,000. According to accepted theory, if the other conditions of density and temperature reported by KMS had indeed occurred, the yield should have been at least 1 billion neutrons.
Yet we have full confidence that the KMS claim is perfectly true. KMS Fusion is a comparatively small enterprise, but it has assembled some of the world's finest talents, including Nobel prize winner Dr. R. Hofstadter, for its staff and consultants. It has developed special techniques for shaping and timing laser pulses to zap the pellet with the greatest effect for the lowest input power. Unbeknownst to Time, it does not rely only on neutron diagnostics, but has developed an X-ray imaging technique which allows it to observe what is going on in the pellet during the crucial billionth of a second of the implosion. It is not the type of company likely to commit an error, much less to perpetrate a hoax.A New Scientist artiole in the magazine's May 30 1974 edition, explains how the fusion power would be used to produce electricity in terms of 1974 technology:
In order to construct a laser fusion reactor, pellets would have to be dropped into a chamber and exploded continuously, while the energy of the neutrons would be converted to heat by a molten metal, such as lithium, circulating outside the chamber. The metal would then be used in a heat exchange device to produce steam from water, and the steam used in turn to drive an electrical generator.As might be expected, author Spielberg's fictional version of the KMS story differs in detail although it maintains a natural plot line of the KMS story, but moves everything ahead 25 years. Emphasized is AJC Fusion's (the fictional KMS) profit motive ... but the whole "laser fusion to electric power" scenario is to present an unbelievably perfect process for readers with all viewpoints ... whether it be the consumer's pocketbook, the safeness of the implosion process, the environmentalist wacko's save-the-planet dream or the investor's guaranteed return.
I am talking about the creation of unlimited energy, the answer to this century's dream of power from water, of controlled fusion. ... We make fusion happen and we get neutrons and with neutrons we make methane. We strip off the hydrogen atoms to use as fuel in a fuel cell, and the fuel cell makes electricity, and the electricity is energy.It is indeed frustrating to me that learned professors and engineers continue to accept the unprovable concept that carbon dioxide causes global warming and that global warming is bad. Scientists specializing in nuclear physics should be well aware that chasing pie-in-the sky theories is costly. Would the scientists seriously pursue expensive renewable energy solutions if such "tilting at windmills" had to be financed privately? I think not. So we need to get the government out of the business of funding scientists who work inside and outside government agencies. Then and only then will we see an end to milking the government for stupid research projects ... and we will begin to see real scientific efforts that really work to better our existence.
We use the abundant neutrons produced by the fusion reaction and the carbon dioxide is free to us in the air and we make methane. Yes but synthetic methane. We will actually be reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air as we make our methane--a kind of "nonfossil" fossil fuel. But only if you burn it. We don't burn the methane. We use it as a source of hydrogen atoms. We use genetically-engineered cyano-bacteria and our proprietary cocktail of enzymes to strip the hydrogen, which we collect from the methane, leaving a carbon--and nitrogen-rich slurry that can be used as fertilizer. A fertilizer. Do you see? Reduced carbon dioxide, low cost, low-energy hydrogen production, high-efficiency fuel-cell-generated electricity, and a fertilizer by-product. Is it not amazing! We don't contribute to greenhouse gases and we get more energy more safely with an energy economy based on hydrogen. And as you know, the only product from a hydrogen fuel cell is water.
by gadfly14 Comments »
In the Eighth Century an obviously deranged Muhammadan alchemist named Geber first conceptualized the "philosopher's stone," a mysterious substance capable of turning inexpensive metals into gold. He may have gotten the idea from the frequency in which precious metals are found in alloys and ores. By the 19th century, alchemy and the philosophers stone had been brushed aside for some "real" scientific discoveries.
One of those discoveries was made in 1901 when Frederick Soddy, who had studied both science and alchemy, found the secret of atomic energy. Soddy and Ernest Rutherford became interested in radioactivity after Marie Curie displayed glowing vials of radium compounds in Paris in 1900.
Late in 1901, the pair discovered that radioactivity is a sign of fundamental changes in matter. A pulse of radiation signals that an atom is changing into a different kind of atom, a different element with its own chemical properties. Rutherford and Soddy found for example that radioactive thorium, atom by atom, was gradually turning itself into radium. At the moment he realized this, Soddy recalled, "I was overwhelmed with something greater than joy -- I cannot very well express it -- a kind of exaltation." He blurted out, "Rutherford, its a transmutation!"Soddy went forward from there, enthusiastically over-selling the future concept of atomic energy and the world was transformed forever.
"For Mike's sake, Soddy," his companion shot back, "don't call it transmutation, They'll have our heads off as alchemists."
Soddy explained the discovery to the public promptly in May 1903 in a British magazine read by cultivated ladies and gentlemen. Radioactivity, he said, pointed to "inexhaustible " power, henceforth matter must be considered not just as inert stuff but as a storehouse of energy. A year later, while taking a long journey by steamship to Australia where he was to lecture on radium he made a more specific calculation, the kind of tangible example an audience would not forget: a pint bottle of uranium contained enough energy to drive an ocean liner from London to Sydney and back!Now, almost 110 years after Soddy and Rutherford first observed thorium transmutation, a movement is afoot to convince the world that here at last is a "safe," cheap alternative for electrical power generation using thorium. Now the metal of Thor has another champion.
"It’s the Big One"” said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA rocket engineer and now chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering.
"Once you start looking more closely, it blows your mind away. You can run civilization on thorium for hundreds of thousands of years, and it’s essentially free. You don’t have to deal with uranium cartels," he said.
For decades, a West Chicago plant originally owned by Lindsay Light and Chemical Co. exposed thousands of workers and West Chicago residents to thorium, a radioactive element that helps fuel nuclear reactors and nuclear bombs.Now that history has exposed some of the proponents' "safety" claims as false, the next whopper that needs to be discussed is thorium;s "environmentally friendly" tag. It is a given fact that nuclear reactions do not generate CO2; however, nuclear scientists with guidance from government/media propagandists and the sinister "man-made global warming" conspirators, are seemingly convinced that coal, natural gas and oil-fired power plants must be shut to cut out CO2 emissions (in order to save the planet from warmth).
Use of the metal was a closely guarded secret. During World War II, it even carried a code name, "Penbarnite."
From 1945 to 1963, the West Chicago plant was the main source of thorium for the government weapons program, according to a 1997 Energy Department report. The report cited company records showing that Lindsay Light and its successor, American Potash, sold 11.7 million pounds of purified thorium for use in reactors or weapons.
Only after the plant closed in 1973 did federal officials discover the extent of medical and environmental effects from the operation.
A 1980 study of more than 3,000 workers at the plant showed somewhat elevated rates of death from cancer, especially lung cancer. Argonne researcher Andrew Stehney also examined autopsy results of former plant workers. One 23-year veteran of the facility had thorium concentrations 6,000 times higher than normal in his lungs and lymph nodes. The man had died of pancreatic cancer.
Waste and leftover thorium ore from the plant have created a health hazard that still affects local residents. Operating at a time before stringent regulation of radioactive materials, the plant trucked the sandy thorium waste to ordinary dumps or let people take it away for use as landfill.
More than 600 homes near the plant have been targeted for cleanup since the mid-1990s, said officials at Kerr-McGee Chemical LLC, which bought the West Chicago plant in 1967. At last count, Kerr-McGee had shipped nearly 1 million tons of contaminated soil from West Chicago to a dump in Utah.