More energy issues

You may have seen the article in the NZ Herald on Saturday about our use of fossil fuels (The Carbon Party’s Over, Chris Barton, NZ Herald 8 August 2009). The bit I loved about this article was translating a barrel of oil (159 litres) into more everyday terms – namely the energy in it is […]

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Fuel consumption

So you’re used to reading about fuel consumption for cars, but what about planes?  The pilot of the rather aging Boeing 747 on which I travelled from Hong Kong to Frankfurt proudly stated that he had 140 thousand litres of fuel on board. (I think that’s what he said). The distance is about 9200 km […]

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Compton scattering

While we are talking about relativity, what about evidence for special relativity? That’s the area of physics which talks about the way things move at very high speeds (close to the speed of light).   For example, we talk about things contracting as they get faster (Lorentz contraction) and time slowing down (time dilation). Neither of […]

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Look no wires

My wife was complaining this morning about the mass of knitting that is underneath our home computer. Not knitting of the woollen jersey kind, but knitting of the wire kind, that is needed to supply power to the computer, printer, modem, etc etc etc and to allow the computer to talk to the printer, etc. […]

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A sun in your own living room

The holy grail of power generation is nuclear fusion. That’s the process by which stars are powered – simply put, hydrogen turns into helium and releases energy in the process. What makes it so perfect is that there is pretty-well a limitless supply of hydrogen on the Earth, tied up in the copious quantities of […]

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Off-the-wall thought

My last comment on powering transport has prompted these thoughts: Will Google Earth one day become so packed full of data that you can ‘visit’ somewhere from your own living room and get 99% of the experience – thus doing away with expensive plane trips to exotic destinations? But will the demands on your computer system […]

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Here come the advertisers again

Buried in my junk mail this weekend was a catalogue containing all those gadgets that might come in handy once in a lifetime – you know the sort – solar powered tea strainers and personalised tin-openers – that kind of thing (I must get some to give out as Christmas presents…)  One was a water-powered calculator. I haven’t seen […]

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Up and down

I chose to celebrate Auckland Anniversary by visiting Wellington. (Naturally enough.) No surcharges on the coffee there. It was my first visit to the capital as a tourist, and as you might expect I did some of the usual touristy things like Te Papa, Parliament, and the cable car.  The cable car is a real […]

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