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  •  Free energy - Wikipedia (0+ / 0-)

    So, bryfy, you know all about Tesla? :)

    •  About Nikola Tesla (1+ / 0-)
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      I am an electrical engineer so I know a little about Nikola Tesla.  He was a genius who created many concepts that are indispensable today: three phase transmission, the induction motor (I think), he held a patent for an electrical transformer, he even built a radio-controlled boat.  Tesla was arguably one of the brightest minds, ever.  But that does not mean he was always right.  None of us are.  His genius did not stretch to his business sense, so he died impoverished (which was a crying shame considering what he created during his life).

      Robert A. Heinlein said it often in his fiction: "TANSTAAFL"  There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.  

      About free energy:

      Solar power is free energy.  It is there every day, in full strength if you get above the clouds.  Well, it's free after you pay for the PV panels...  

      Hydroelectricity is free energy.  Well, it's free after you build a dam and flood many square miles of quaint riverside land...

      Geothermal is free energy.  Well, it's free after you drill the holes and build the plant and pay people to operate and maintain the plant...

      Distributed wind energy (a wind turbine on every rooftop) is free energy, every time the wind blows.  Well it's free after you pay for the turbine and inverter and battery storage system to carry you through those pesky light-wind days...

      Nikola Tesla appears to have had a theory about using natural fields and/or space charges as sources of free energy.  Well, it would be free after the energy collectors were built...


      •  fossil fuel and nuclear is free too (1+ / 0-)
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        Fossil fuels can be dug up and burned for free, they're just sitting there in the ground doing nothing anyways.  Of course ignore the costs of digging it up and the equipment to burn it.  Which is less than the cost of a solar panel.  And of course ignore the environmental costs.

        Nuclear is free - just put enough of the right concentrated minerals in close proximity and endless energy!!!

      •  No free energy (0+ / 0-)

        Thanks, free energy, no perpetual motion. Um, what makes the universe go round?

        •  Stop wasting our time (0+ / 0-)

          "The answer to fear cannot always lie in the dissipation of the causes of fear; sometimes it lies in courage."

          by woolie on Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 02:24:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Do you know what Chernobyl did to people? (0+ / 0-)


            This photoessay shows a little of what the nuclear plant disaster at Chernobyl (1985) did to the area around the town, and to people who weren't even anywhere near. The Russians stopped the aerial spread all over Europe only by seeding clouds, and it rained on the next country - Belarus.
            So, Woolie, I don't think we have any time to waste in exploring new energy and getting rid of nuclear plants.

            •  Cporrection - 1986 nt (0+ / 0-)
            •  The Educated Person Will Be Aware of Chernobyl. (1+ / 0-)
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              I have described in some detail in a diary here a work of critical analysis done by a Ukranian-American who became so obsessed with the details that she abandoned her American life and went to live in Ukraine to examine the situation in exhaustive detail.

              Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl," Some Comments

              I highly recommend this book - with the caveats I listed in the discussion - for the educated person.

              I have spent many hours thinking about Chernobyl because in my position I am continually challenged on this subject.

              My position on the subject is clear.   It is regrettable in every way that there is a special fetish for the victims of Chernobyl to the exclusion of the hundreds of millions of people - and quite possibly more - who are likely to be effected by climate change.

              Several thousand people have died in the last few years in the Ukraine from coal mining related disasters, and many more have been killed by air pollution from burning coal - brown coal in that country.

              Right now the country is experiencing an unprecedneted doubt, almost certainly related to climate change.

              It is interesting to note that Ukraine - even though that country knows far more about Chernobyl than you do - is planning a major expansion of nuclear power.

              The well educated person is situated as to be able to do comparisons.   It is strictly true on a profound level that nuclear energy is the only form of energy that can properly be required to be perfect to be acceptable.  No form of energy is perfect but it is very, very, very, very clear to the educated person that some forms are more dangerous - by far - than others.

              If Chernobyl has wiped out the city of Kiev - and in fact there is some evidence that the city of Kiev is still there - it is very unlikely that it would have been quite as castrophic as any of the last 20 years of unrestricted normal fossil fuel operations.   In fact though, Chernobyl did not wipe out the city of Kiev.

              It is arbitrary to declare that the Chernobyl disaster - as regrettable as it was - is the only energy disaster that matters.

              In fact the largest energy disaster in the 20th century - one that killed hundreds of people in a single night, unremarked by the people who have a special Chernobyl fetish - was a renewable energy disaster.

              It was at the Banqiao dam.   Many educated people in fact ignore this disaster - a position that is extremely arbitrary and, in fact, in light of the Three Gorges Dam, a little bit strange.

              Unlike the continuous stream of fossil fuel related deaths, both accidental and systematic, i.e. continuous, the Chernobyl disaster was never repeated, not even in RBMK diasters.   By contrast there is no way to stop fossil fuel disasters, if even their mechanism is well understood.

              As bad as the Banqiao dam disaster was, it will pale in comparison to the destruction of Yangtze River from climate change.   I have attempted in the linked diary to estimate the magnitude of such destruction, comparing it in scale to things like the Second World War.

              I have had to repeat this viewpoint many times, so many times that it has largely become second nature.   It will be a much safer world when the deaths of 100 Russian coal miners last month - all of whom are already forgotten - becomes as important as the deaths of the Chernobyl victims 20 years ago.   It will be a safer world when the people who will die from air pollution tomorrow count 1/100th as the Chernobyl victims.

              •  Can we find a way to clean energy? (0+ / 0-)

                I am glad that you grapple with the dangers of all energy industries. However, it is false logic to suggest that coal's problems, or those of dams, make those of nuclear power desirable. I hope we are fortunate and intelligent enough find a way to clean energy.

                •  it's ridiculous (1+ / 0-)
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                  to make a claim to any kind of "free energy" perpetual motion machine, much less to argue there's a conspiracy theory behind it.

                  I'd recommend a primer on thermodynamics and conservation of energy.

                  "The answer to fear cannot always lie in the dissipation of the causes of fear; sometimes it lies in courage."

                  by woolie on Sat Jun 23, 2007 at 08:27:38 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  China and India don't count (1+ / 0-)
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                The developing world doesn't even exist to most people in this country.. in particular people making claims about the power of wind and solar, carefully neglecting the fact the developed world became that way by massive burning of fossil fuels and the expenditure of energy that was required to build the infrastructure and cities of the first world.

                "The answer to fear cannot always lie in the dissipation of the causes of fear; sometimes it lies in courage."

                by woolie on Sat Jun 23, 2007 at 08:18:49 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Free Energy? (1+ / 0-)
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      Now, when you refer to "free energy," are you talking about Gibbs free energy or Helmholtz free energy, because they're not the same thing, you know?

      Sorry ... just a little physics joke.

      And Tesla? Of course I know about Nikola Tesla. My background is in physics, so I suspect I know far more about Tesla, his work, and the theoretical basis behind most of his work than you do. Judging from your comments, I would say that all that you know about Tesla seems to have come from what you have read at some conspiracy theory website that you found on the internet.

      As a physicist or at least a physics-minded person, I should point out that nuclear energy is the only source of free energy that is available today, since it is the only process by which energy is actually created. That is, a small part of the mass of the atom is converted directly into energy when the fission process occurs. All other "sources" of energy really are just transfers of energy from one form to another -- chemical to thermal to mechanical to electrical, etc., and usually ultimately to thermal -- along with the resulting increases in entropy that accompany the processes and make them irreversible.

      Energy (or mass and energy in the case of subatomic processes) is never created or destroyed. When we talk about energy being wasted, we mean that the energy has been put into a form from which it is unsuitable to extract and convert to a useful form. Usually this is because the energy has become so dispersed that nothing useful can be done with it.

      The huge advantage that nuclear energy has is that such a small amount of material can provide enormous amounts of energy. Nothing else can compare.

      On the other end of the spectrum, so-called "renewable energy" sources are very diffuse, which is why they require such large amounts of material and resources to collect this energy and convert it to a useful form (usually electricity). This in itself is not an insurmountable problem, but it does make these sources more expensive and also results in a larger environmental footprint than less diffuse energy sources. If, however, one is willing to spend the resources and sacrifice the space, then they are feasible.

      Wind and solar energy suffer from a more important drawback, however; they are not reliable sources. Try as we might, we cannot control the weather to make the wind blow and the sun shine when we need it. This, in my opinion, is ultimately what will limit the fraction of our energy needs that can be provided by these technologies, and all of the experience that we have with them worldwide supports my opinion.

      As for Tesla's ideas about "free energy" (probably just another idea to collect energy from a diffuse source), whatever he was thinking about died with him. Whether it was feasible or not will never be known.

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