Mar. 15th, 2009

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Fledgling mantle plume may be cause of African volcano's unique lava

Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may be, according to scientists, a new mantle plume. Mantle plumes emerge from the earth's core and, in the past, have resulted in the Hawaiian islands and Yellowstone National Park's geysers. In this case, the plume has caused the region to dome upwards by almost one mile above sea level and 500 miles in diameter as the lava pools.

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BBC NEWS | Technology | Riding the recession the HP way

I like this quote: "We are not looking at the recession," he told the BBC. "We are looking at investment in technology for the long term so that HP is fully prepared to provide its customers with a variety of choices when we get out of the recession. ... Innovation is not for the next quarter, it is for the next two years, five years from now. The key is to invest in innovation that truly matters."
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The Way We Live Now - Growing Up on Facebook -

An interesting article pointing out what may be some problems with growing up so connected; namely, being able to discard your past and start fresh, as many of us of the older generation have, sometimes on several occasions.
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Salt solution: Cheap power from the river's mouth - environment - 25 February 2009 - New Scientist

In the Netherlands, and experiment is underway to determine if energy derived from the mixing of salt ocean water and fresh inland water at can be commercially viable. The approach, known as salinity power, would take salt water from the North Sea and run it beside fresh water from the Rhine, separating them with a semi-permeable membrane. Osmosis draws fresh water (dilute solution) into the salt water (concentrated solution), raising the pressure of the salt water side in the process which is then run through a turbine to generate power. Unlike other forms of green energy, this one can run 24/7. Plants could be situated any where that fresh-water rivers meet the ocean. In the proposed experimental system, the developers hope to generate about 1 gigawatt of electricity, or enough to meet the needs of 650,000 homes.
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From AC to DC: Going green with supergrids - environment - 11 March 2009 - New Scientist

The idea of using DC rather than AC for conventional power grids is being seriously considered for the first time since the Edison-Tesla feud. At that time, Edison favoured the mathematically and conceptually simpler DC despite the complexity of the equipment needed to drop voltages from transmission levels to those required for household use. This conversion problem limited the voltage that could be used in for transmission and, as a result, made the approach practical only for transmission over short distances.

Enter HVDC (High-Voltage Direct Current), currently being considered by both Europe and the US as a replacement for their current grid because, unlike the current AC-based grid highly variable energy sources like solar and wind would not affect the grid significantly. In AC systems, adding energy to the grid requires load-balancing to ensure that the power cycles are maintained. HVDC is currently used in situations where large amounts of power need to transmitted for unusually long distances, such as between New Zealand and the North and South islands. In these cases DC was favoured because DC, in fact, has much lower transmission loss over long distances, provided the voltages are sufficiently high.

All that being said, there are a number of technical challenges that need to be overcome before HVDC grids can be moved from specialty to general-purpose applications. Also, it is uncertain how much transforming our current system to HVDC would cost, despite optimistic studies that state the costs are not excessively high.

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Friday the 13th Strikes Again -- Two Months in a Row

For those with something against Friday the 13th, this year we get three of them (February, March, and November). The next double F13 comes in 2012.
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You, too, can be a super-villain, by following these step-by-step instructions.

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January 2010

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