Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Solar powered cooking

Thinking about solar power [AKA diurnal thermo-nuclear]; Maybe one of the most effective things we can do to counteract global warming and ocean acidification is to store heat energy in rocks and bricks to be used for frying, steaming and baking food. The simplest way of doing this will be to use curved mirrors to focus the sun's heat onto hollow pipes. The air inside the pipes needs to be heated to about 250 deg C but that just means the mirror concentrator for each such pipe needs to be about 6 times as wide as the diameter of the pipe. My recommendation is that the collector pipes are held immobile and exactly parallel to the Earth's axis of rotation. This arrangement means that the mirror concentrators only need to move right around the pipe once every 24 hours. [The word "Clockwork" comes to mind.] A Stirling engine can be used to pump/blow the hot air along an insulated delivery pipe [underground for preference], and into the bottom of the insulated rock pile or brick stack. The oven will be whatever shape suits the baking style of the home and will simply be the top part of the insulated brick stack with thick tiles for floor, walls and roof. The door could be hinged, or sliding, or just some kind of insulated metal sheet. As can be seen, none of this is "rocket science" is it! Furthermore, something similar but with different dimensions and lower temperatures could be made for drying the washing instead of using mechanical electric energy guzzling driers like so many urban households do now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A little skepticism versus the infallibility of personal experience

Below is a copy of a posting I have recently made [25 Aug '09] to a discussion group [about 'Consciousness] on FaceBook. In that particular thread I am being chided by "Dixie" an exponent of Zen meditation who tells me I am ignorant and deluded, because I don't sit and meditate like she does. I have taken to not denying such charges because, in my gathering dotage, I now see that it is true, at least for several reasonable values of the word 'true' anyway. But I am not happy to simply acquiesce in the assertions of somebody else's world view without challenge. I've been there, done that; there are too many other people who just wanna tell me how to think, for some reason or other. I am loath to just quietly accept the view of a person when they are asserting what amounts to the infallibility of personal experience.
Dixie has just remarked that she doesn't want to continue arguing "because this is not really a discussion any more", and so she is not going to post again, until I can prove that I have meditated as prescribed.

So Dixie, what you are saying is that your description of things MUST be right, because it IS right. If I ask how you know that it is right, what makes you so sure that it is not "make believe", you say it is because you KNOW that it is right and it could not be wrong.

But then one has to ask: do you mean that as far as you are concerned, it is not possible that you could be mistaken? Please understand that I am not asserting that you are mistaken, simply asking if you can conceive the possibility that your understanding could be wrong.

My reason for seeking this clarification is precisely because I have experienced being wrong in the past, and also experienced being *right*. The being wrong in various ways showed me things about myself, and about how people 'tick'. The being right showed me how there is a way, and there can be times when, MY decision is right, simply right. But it always seems that other people want to describe my world for me using their words, their concepts. They may be well meaning, they might be nice people, but how can I know if they really know what they themselves are talking about?

So this is why I ask, again, in other words: How can you be sure that what you experience in deep meditation is not just a deeper layer of naive realism?

You see, years ago I had an experience in which I knew that "God" had touched me. I didn't need anybody else to confirm that for me, and I still don't. Because of the context in which this occurred, I became a Christian. But that was then. Now I am not a Christian, but I still know that it was God - though I would rather say "Life" - which touched me. I don't need anybody else to interpret my life, my world, for me.

I am looking for people who are willing to engage with our world constructively, and that requires that none of us assumes we have a monopoly on truth.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Thinking new thoughts and daring to be different - the world has a new paradigm.

For many years now I have been trying to work out what I ought to be doing. I suspect that many people have this as one of their projects, simmering away slowly at the back of their minds, if not at the front. I have come to adopt a collection of ideas, mostly pinched from other people of course but some seem to be my own home-brew. I have accepted for some time that there is a new paradigm a-brewing in the world, but couldn't see the totality.

Recently I became aware once again of the theory underlying Stirling engines [an idea first patented by Rev Robert Stirling, a Scot, in about 1816]. I became aware also of the truly vast number of practical applications of Stirling engines and the fact there is nothing stopping the deployment of these machines in thousands of places around our planet for the purposes of using solar power for generating electricity, desalinating seawater, driving air conditioners, and so forth.

A Stirling engine is simply a device for extracting useful mechanical energy from temperature differences in the environment. You can see for yourself on youtube that properly made Stirling engines can extract usable from the temperature difference between the skin of a person's hand and the air around them!: and

OK so that is not a huge amount of power and motion, but there is no intrinsic limit to how these machines can be adapted to different locations and circumstances:
  • Simple collection of hot air under glass/polycarbonate laid over suburban rooftops [a temp diff of at least 20 deg C possible]
  • ocean floor water at 4 deg C next to tropical/equatorial surface water at about 20 deg C [15+ deg C diff possible night and day but greater possible with solar heating]
  • all manner of solar tracking mirror concentrators [or Fresnel lenses] can create temperature differences anywhere up to a few hundred degrees.
What this means is that all the protestations about solar power, wind power, and so forth being too expensive, or too inefficient, or too hard to implement, are just bollocks!

I can see now that Mark's law # 4 is indeed true:
When people cooperate and work together then, to the extent that we cooperate, all projects become possible that are in line with the laws of physics.
What this means is that the economists' preconception that 'value is based on scarcity' is an obsolete hangover from the pre-scientific universe.

Now we can see that value is that which enhances the quality of human existence. Value as such is created through human labour and there is NO intrinsic reason why we cannot achieve the emancipation of all people from slavery, poverty, fear, preventable disease, and unjust exploitation.
Why can I be sure of this? Because the paramount truth about us now is that we really are a new species: Homo sapiens scientificus and we are now in a position to take our place amongst all the other species living off the infinite stream of energy supplied each day by the sun. We have to wean ourselves off the milk of Mother Earth, ie stop burning all the liquid fossil hydrocarbons [rock oil] and crispy crunchy coals and lignites.

The burning of such vast amounts of hydrocarbons from out of the ground has put us in danger of potentially overwhelming disaster: climate changes which threaten the agriculture we depend on for food, heating and acidification of the oceans which may destroy all the fish species we depend on for food. But we can do things differently. There is no need for us to continue being stupid. Being "stupid" means to continue doing something which has been shown to be intrinsically self-defeating. We DO NOT have to be so stupid. Each one of us is capable of changing, what it takes is exposure to true information presented in a format we understand by people we trust in a context we can relate to.