An Inconvenient Truth About Thermoelectrics

Submitted by cvining on

From Nature Materials, February 2009, Volume 8 No 2


An inconvenient truth about thermoelectrics pp83 - 85

Cronin B. Vining

Despite recent advances, thermoelectric energy conversion will never be as efficient as steam engines. That means thermoelectrics will remain limited to applications served poorly or not at all by existing technology. Bad news for thermoelectricians, but the climate crisis requires that we face bad news head on.

Full Text  |   PDF (345 KB)


Solar Power

Submitted by cvining on

Science Newssn-solar-2007 has a nice introduction to the role solar power may play in fighting global climate change.  Some telling statistics:

  • Total World Energy Consumption (2001): 13 Terawatts (TW)
  • Total World Energy Consumption (2050): 26 Terawatts (TW)
  • Total World Energy Consumption (2100): 39 Terawatts (TW)
  • Derived from coal, oil & natural gas (2001): 86%
  • 1 gigawatt (GW) power plants needed to generate 10 TW: 10,000
  • Time to build 10 TW of power plants: one new 1 GW plant/day for 27 years
  • Exploitable hydroelectric power worldwide: 0.5 TW
  • Extractable wind power worldwide: 2-4 TW
  • Solar energy arriving at earth: 120,000 TW

Nathan Lewis of CalTech is a prominent proponent of the argument that solar may be the only primary power source sufficient to fight global climate change.  He has written some excellent, technically detailed articles on the subject [bib]lewis2006[/bib],[bib]lewis2007[/bib] and a nice overview-style article with George Crabtree of Argonne [bib]crabtree2007[/bib]


Sunni surge better than US surge

Submitted by cvining on

BBC is reporting the "Sunni extremist surge seems to be having more effect than the American one."

One more example that Iraq is a Dollar Auction: each time we up the ante, so does "the extremists". Bush keeps telling us we can't afford to lose.  Trouble is, neither can the other side(s). So the game will go on until one side wises up and walks away.

Nothing to win here.  Please move on. 


One Celled People

Submitted by cvining on

This has to be one of the best ever commentarys on those who oppose stem cell research:


WHAT'S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 13 Apr 07   Washington, DC

The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act passed the Senate 63-34,
but President Bush promises a veto. He said the use of embryonic
stem cells in research "crosses a moral line." In case you're
wondering where this "moral line" is drawn, WN has looked into
it. George W. Bush and other conservative theologians believe a
"soul" is assigned to the fertilized egg at the instant of
conception. That makes it a person, even though it's not counted
in the census. In-vitro fertilization makes a lot more of these
one-celled people than it needs; leftovers are stacked in the
freezer until it starts filling up. President Bush cares deeply
about these helpless one-celled people and wants to ensure they
are properly flushed down the disposal rather than exploited by
godless scientists interested only the reduction of suffering.


Internet Growth
Internet Growth 1993-2006

In 1993 the number of internet users was a trivial percentage of the world population. Today there are over a billion users, nearly 17% of the world population[1], and some 440 million host computers on the internet [2].

Initially the rate of growth of users and hosts greatly exceeded the "Moore's Law" rate of doubling every 18 months (equivalent to 59% annual growth). Today the number of users is increasing about 13%/year and the number of hosts about 24%/year. Apparently more people are getting their own dedicated internet connections. The DNS (Domain Name System) lists all computers (hosts) connected to the internet. Presumably because many people use dialup connections with dnynamic IP, the ratio of users to hosts has varied from about 1.7 in 1995 to a peak of about 5.5 in 2001 and has been decreasing since then to about 2.4 today. Over time I should think the user and host growth rates will both approach the population growth rate. References: [1] Internet User Growth [2] Internet Host Growth