Superconductivity Handbook – WIF Into the Future

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Superconductivity

Powering

Our Future

Light-Driven Superconductivity

A follow-up discovery to electricity in the early 20th century was superconductivity, which is the complete loss of electrical resistance and displacement of magnetic fields when certain materials are cooled to a critical temperature.

Superconductivity has come a long way since its discovery in the early 20th century too receiving the Nobel Prize in physics in 1987.

There are numerous applications of superconductivity being developed and implemented and it is these applications that once again will change our civilization far into the future in the same way that electricity did in the 20th century.

10. ITER

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is a joint venture involving seven bodies of government. ITER is currently one of the most expensive public scientific projects in history. The goal of ITER is to prove fusion is viable by getting more energy out than putting in. ITER is being built in France and will be the largest tokamak ever built. A tokamak is a device using a magnetic field to confine a plasma in the shape of a torus. The amount of temperatures ITER plans to induce inside the tokamak will be between 150-300 million degrees Celsius. At those temperatures, the isotopes of hydrogen (e.g. deuterium) can be fused turning into one of the four states of matter (e.g. plasma). The tokamak will require large superconducting coils to create an immense magnetic field to contain the plasma. The challenge that lies ahead for ITER is vast because there are other means to produce fusion in addition to the tokamak. It is likely that ITER will continues on its path to become operational by the late 2020’s and will demonstrate that fusion energy is attainable. However, companies like General Fusion and Lockheed Martin will likely bring fusion energy to the commercial market before ITER ever gets turned on.

9. Quantum Train

Magnetic levitation (maglev) is on the verge of being adopted in many new modes of transport, but few are adopting HTSM (High Temperature Superconducting Maglev). Although maglev can be created by a number of different processes, the most promising are the companies who are taking full advantage of the Meisnner Effect. The Meisnner Effect allows trains to float on a permanent magnetic guide way. There is currently a lot of buzz around Japan’s proposal to build a HTSM train which could achieve 600 km per hour. Japan’s HTSM train developed by JR Central has its limitations due to extremely expensive cost but the Japanese government intends to develop a superconducting maglev line between Tokyo to Nagoya costing well over $200 billion until completion. A more cost effective HTSM train is known as theQuantum Train. A Quantum Train being proposed by the Dutch would modify existing railway and would cut cost significantly compared to the Japanese proposal.  The Quantum Train intends to exceed 3000 km per hour due to the adoption of patented evacuated tube transport.

8. MRIs

When a patient slides into a modern Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine, superconductivity is what drives the medical imaging technique used in radiology.   MRI scanners use magnetic fields and radio waves to form images of the body. The technique is widely used in hospitals for medical diagnosis, staging of disease and for follow-up without exposure to ionizing radiation. MRI’s use strong magnetic fields and require superconducting coils that are cooled via liquid helium. MRI’s are certainly the most familiar application of superconductivity in the modern world. MRI’s have made a myriad of diagnosis varying from malignant tumors, schizophrenia, heart disease, and so much more. It is clear that use of MRI machines have proved to the world that superconductivity has immense benefits for the wellbeing of mankind. MRI machines in hospitals across the globe have saved millions of lives, all in thanks to superconductivity.

7. HTS Motor

High Temperature Superconductivity (HTS) is the driving force in the field of superconductivity. Historically, superconductor materials required very cold critical temperatures only achieved with the use of expensive cryogens such as liquid helium that operate at only a few degrees above Kelvin (absolute zero).  HTS materials operate at a much higher critical temperature (e.g. 70 K) and require much cheaper cryogens such as liquid nitrogen.  The typical motor requires lots of copper wire, materials and are highly inefficient when compared to an HTS motor. It is no surprise that the USA Navy is paving the way by being the first to apply HTS motors to their armada which will provide savings in energy costs while taking efficiency to a new level.

6. Elevators

The future of cities is leading to the Megacity; super dense populations of over 10 million residents or more. High Rises will abound and the way people are transported within these “walled cities” will change. The design of the current day elevator has not materially changed for over 160 years and has limited architects from building new, bold and completely different shapes for high rises. The use of new magnetically levitating elevators for skyscrapers will completely change architectural design for high rises going forward. Superconducting elevators will allow Megacities to flourish and will allow for theoretical Mega Structures to reach well over a mile high into the atmosphere.   Superconducting elevators take advantage of the Meisner effect and use a series of Linear Induction Motors to accelerate the magnetically levitating elevators cabins vertically and horizontally. The world tallest building in Dubai, Burj Khalifa, will seem trivial in height in the coming decades.

5. StarTram

It costs a lot of money to send anything into space, billions are spent yearly to send satellites into LEO and the International Space Station (ISS) has exceeded over $125 billion in costs. And because of cost, StarTram is still considered by overwhelming majority as unfeasible in today’s world. But StarTram would make it possible to send cargo and passengers into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).  Dr. James Powell, co-inventor of StarTram, is considered way ahead of his time and a true “All Star” in the world of superconductivity. Dr. Powell invented superconducting maglev in the late 60’s and his contributions to superconductivity are substantial to say the least.

The principles behind StarTram involves 100’s of miles of connected tubes evacuated of air that would reach 14 miles into the atmosphere. A SkyTram space portal would be located at a mountain range a few miles above sea level (e.g. Mongolia) to negate some of the cost of connecting the tubes from sea level to 20 miles high. SkyTram’s tubes will be lined with permanent magnets while SkyTram’s superconducting maglev pods will be able to accelerate through the evacuated tubes (no air resistance) at well over Mach 20 to reach LEO. The estimated cost of SkyTram is over $60 billion and would take massive coordination, both political and business in nature, to make SkyTram a reality. As a species, we have always been pondering what lies across the vastness between the stars and it is absolutely critical as a species to survive to get off this ‘Pale Blue Dot’. StarTram would greatly reduce the cost of space travel and would lead to the building of starships such as the superconductive EmDrive which would allow civilization to travel between the stars.

4. EM Drive

Quite possible the greatest discovery in propulsion systems in the history of mankind is the implications of the EM Drive. The EM Drive was Invented by British engineer Roger Shawyer in 2000 and has been shunned by the scientific community for over a decade because the EM Drive indicates its breaking Newton’s 3rd law of thermodynamic, the conservation of momentum. However, Chinese scientists in 2010 and scientist from NASA in 2014 confirmed Roger’s EM Drive that by converting electricity into electromagnetic microwaves inside a specially designed chamber exhibited measurable thrust. The ramifications of the EM Drive means that no propellant is needed to propel a satellite or spaceship across the medium of space, just a source of energy (e.g. radioactive materials).

Despite the skepticism and controversy the EM Drive has brought upon the scientific community, the superconducting EM Drive version would allow increase in thrust efficiency by a huge margin. Star Trek spaceships powered by EM Drives could reach 60% the speed of light after a few years of constant thrust. The physics behind the EM Drive is so revolutionary that the superconductive version is years away and the EM Drive wouldn’t be limited to space explorations. Roger says it best, “superconducting EM Drives will be ‘powerful enough to lift a large car’ (under Earths gravity)”.

3. LHC

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), one of the most expensive completed scientific experimental project in history has brought the discovery of the Higgs Boson. As a result of the discovery of the Higgs Boson, the Noble prize in physics was awarded to Peter Higgs & Francois Englert and has brought some closure to the Standard Model in particle physics. Multiple experiments are being done at the LHC to bridge the gap between the world of quantum mechanics and the world of general relativity. The role of superconductivity for the particle accelerator has been crucial for LHC’s success. In order for the LHC to accelerate protons close to the speed of light, strong magnetic fields and a vacuumed environment are needed to keep the protons on their trajectory. High levels of electrical current are needed to accelerate the protons to high speeds and superconductive coils allow for the electrical currents to flow without additional energy and zero resistance.

In the decade to come, China proposes to build a much larger particle accelerator than the LHC; over 54 km in diameter compared to LHC’s 17 km diameter. The role of ‘atom smashers’ will play an important role to our understanding of the observable universe. Particle accelerators are capable of producing anti matter, at a current cost of $62.5 trillion per gram, and perhaps the cost of anti-matter will follow Moors Law in the coming half century to allow for practical use of anti-matter for numerous applications.

2. HTS Power cables

Currently, almost all transmission of electrical current is via copper wire. In the USA alone, 6% of electricity is lost in transmission according to the EIA.  That 6% equates to 10’s of billions of dollars ‘flushed down the toilet’ due to poor transmission of electricity. The case is a lot worse for developing countries like India. In 2000 India reported a 30% loss of electrical current in transition across their utility lines but has subsequently made improvements and increased the efficiency of transmitting electricity to 18%. A much more efficient way of transmission is through the use ofHTS powercables , which provides 0% loss of electrical current during transmission. High Temperature Superconductors, such as HTS Powercables, use much cheaper cryogens like liquid nitrogen (Nitrogen is 78% of earth atmosphere).  A gallon of liquid nitrogen is 4 times cheaper than a gallon of milk. HTS power cables have become economically viable.

HTS power cables also require a lot less material than copper wire to transmit equal amount of current.  In the USA, the DOE has multiple HTS power cable project across the country to increase the grids efficiency, reduce carbon footprint, and save money. The case for HTS power cables to be adopted across the globe is strong. Germany has tested the world longest HTS power cable line of 1 km and has worked without a glitch. The most mind boggling notion surrounding HTS power-cables, combined with Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies (ET3), is its capabilities to store well over 15 TW (terawatts) of energy on a global scale.

1. Space Travel on Earth

The future of transport is on the verge of becoming a ‘physical world wide web’ of evacuated tubes (ETs) via ET3 (Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies). The case for tube transport had reached its tipping point when Elon Musk met with the ET3 team 2 weeks before he made his Hyperloop announcement 3 years ago. ET3 has been 25 years in the making. ET3’s first patent was in 1999 and dozens more have been developed since then.

ET3 involves a series of factors: evacuating 1.5 diameter tubes of air via vacuum pumps, linear electrical motors, and most importantly HTS superconductors and permanent magnets. Car sized capsules enter the evacuated tubes via airlocks and each capsule holds a cryostat that cools the HTS material on each capsule. A few gallons of liquid nitrogen could keep an ET3 capsule levitated for 4 hours.

So much attention has brought upon the Hyperloop yet ET3 has gone through over 15 years of R&D and is ready to be built right now. ET3 also goes by Space Travel On Earth because it brings ‘space like conditions down to earth’ (e.g. an evacuated environment is a void with only a few particles per million; like outer space). The implication of Evacuated Tube Transport (ETT) on the global scale will bring the world ever more connected. ETT capsules (800 lbs per) transporting food, waste, oil, freight, data, persons, energy, etc. will be able to travel over 400 mph in local Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) evacuated tube networks while international routes could reach 4,000 mph. Once Space Travel on Earth is implemented, it will have a far reaching impact on the world economy & would literally double the standard of living for all.


Superconductivity Handbook

WIF Future-001

– WIF into the Future

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 72

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 72

…Jean-Luc has broken three Rossignol skies, ten poles, one ankle and beaucoup hearts.

CHAPTER SEVEN

SCIFI

The country of Switzerland continues to be a bastion of neutrality to this day, even halfway into the 21st Century. That nonalignment usually keeps their nose clean, despite the trillions in dirty money and ill-gotten gains stored in financial institutions within their borders.

Tucked in the middle of the European Union, perched mostly in the Alps, officially named the Swiss Confederation, it has strong sense of identity and community and is founded on common historical background. Its linguistic diversity is representative of the people.  Svizra, Svizzera, Schweiz, ʒviːtsrɐ and Suisse are national labels attached to it; pick your flavor.

SCIFI chooses Suisse; hence the Suisse Conjoined Institute of Fetal Integrity which is to say that it specializes in separating babies joined by some body part. Dr. Jean-Luc Picard is a world-renowned authority in the cranial niche. When babies share a skull, he is the surgeon who untangles them. He is the only Frenchman doing it – he is the only human doing it.

Considering how rare such births are, Jean-Luc has a lot of time on his hands. Dust accumulation is the biggest threat to the sterility of his office. He is an avid skier and hiker, so St. Moritz is where he calls home. His operating room is wherever a patient is.

2052 has been a slow year for the cranial conjoined. He does do other surgeries, though some of his critics believe he would make a better doctor to ghosts than a brain surgeon. Consequently, he is breaking no records for productivity; however he has broken two Rossignol skies, ten poles, one ankle and beaucoup hearts. He is a handsome man, as they say in France.

Oh, that broken ankle? It has compelled him to spend more time at his craft. As for those broken hearts, one is seated at the reception desk of his SCIFI office building. “Good afternoon, Charlize. Do I have any messages?” English is his language of choice.

“Oui, deux,” hers is not and she passes 2 pink pieces of paper his way. It was only last month that she caught him with another girl. She didn’t believe it was a cousin of his for a single moment.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 72


page 75

SuperVolcano Handbook – WIF Geology

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Terrifying (Dormant)

Super Volcanoes

Вулкан - анимация на телефон №1287538 | Fotografía de naturaleza, Naturaleza impresionante, Hermosos paisajes

A supervolcano is defined as having the capacity to produce an eruption so big that it can eject around 240 cubic miles of volcanic material in the form of molten rock, hot gases, and ash. That’s roughly one thousand times more than the largest volcanic eruption ever recorded in modern human history. Supervolcanoes are formed when a momentous volume of super-heated magma rises from deep underground, but is unable to penetrate the Earth’s crust and creates a huge, high-pressure pool several miles beneath the surface. As time passes, pressures rise and this massive pool of magma grows, until a mega eruption takes place.

 These kinds of eruptions have taken place in the past, and will do so again. It is estimated that such a blast takes place somewhere around the globe every 50 to 60 thousand years or so, with the last one going off 74,000 years ago, in Indonesia. So far, 40 supervolcanoes have been discovered, with seven of them still active. Not even with today’s technology are we able to stop any of these volcanoes from erupting, and the best thing we can do right now is to monitor them, learn as much as we can, and prepare for their aftermath.
cal·de·ra
/kalˈderə,kôlˈderə,kalˈdirə/        noun
  1. a large volcanic crater, especially one formed by a major eruption leading to the collapse of the mouth of the volcano.

10. The Apocalyptic Eruption of a Supervolcano

We have to make a couple of things clear right from the beginning. For starters, we know relatively little about how supervolcanoes are formed, and we know even less about what sets one off. However, recent geologic studies have shown us that super volcanoes are not like other ordinary volcanoes, especially when it comes to the causes that make them erupt. While an ordinary volcano is triggered by internal mechanisms, like magma pressure building up over time and eventually punching through the rock, a supervolcano is triggered by the above Earth’s crust which, due to the huge size of the magma chamber below, becomes highly unstable and forms cracks and faults. Through these faults, the magma can generate an unstoppable chain reaction that would lead to a devastating and inevitable explosion, the likes of which can extinguish most life on the planet. Because of this fact, it’s far more difficult to estimate when a supervolcano will erupt.

One such ancient eruption took place around the time of the extinction of the dinosaurs. Coinciding with another cataclysmic event (the meteor that struck the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago), the area of what is now known as the Deccan Traps in central India was the site of a huge volcanic eruption. Even before India slammed into the Asian continent, one of the largest volcanic structures made its presence felt for nearly 30,000 years. It now consists of more than 6,500 feet of flat-lying basalt lava flows, covering an area of roughly 200,000 square miles (almost the size of the Washington and Oregon combined). It’s estimated that the original area was three times that size, but shrank due to erosion and plate tectonics. The present volume of volcanic material is somewhere around 122,835 cubic miles, as compared to the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, which spewed out only around 0.24 cubic miles of lava.

An even larger and more destructive event occurred some 235 million years ago in what’s now Siberia, which triggered the Great Dying event, where 75% of all land life and 95% of marine life went extinct. But the largest volcanic eruption in Earth’s past 300 million years took place underwater, and began 125 million years ago. It created a plateau 19 miles thick and 750,000 square miles wide (1% of the Earth’s surface), called Ontong Java, north of the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean. It released about 24 million cubic miles of lava, and was 100 million times more powerful than the Mount St. Helens eruption.

9. The Hellish Pyroclastic Flows That Soon Follow

Immediately following a volcanic eruption, an equally, if not deadlier event takes place. This is a pyroclastic flow, which instantly killed many of the people in the ancient Roman town of Pompeii in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted. When a volcano goes off, besides the eruption column that forms above the crater, another, deadlier ash-cloud surge flows down the slopes in all directions and at incredibly high speeds (up to 450 mph). This is a fluidized mixture of solid and semi-solid fragments of rock, ash and incredibly hot expanding gases which act similarly to a snow avalanche. Everything that is caught in this flow will be killed instantaneously as temperatures inside it can reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. If you find yourself on a path of one of these pyroclastic flows, there is absolutely nowhere to run or anywhere to hide. The gases are so toxic, they wreck the lungs almost instantaneously, while the water inside tissue is simply boiled off.

In a supervolcano, the ash in a pyroclastic flow would be so hot that it would turn into lava once it touched back onto the ground. This would lead to lava flows hundreds of miles away from the volcano itself. Because of the extremely high speeds an “avalanche” like this usually travels, a phenomenon known as “viscous heating” takes place. Basically, the force moving these solid volcanic materials through the air adds to their overall temperature, making them even hotter and thus turning them into lava midair. Any life found in the vicinity, but not caught in this hurricane of incandescent materials hurtling towards them, would be killed by the poisonous gases that are released after the pyroclastic flow dies off. The area engulfed by the flow would be covered by up to 700 feet of debris.

8. A Volcanic Winter is Coming!

Now you may be inclined to believe that, even though huge and deadly, supervolcanoes would wreak havoc on a local level. But this could not be further from the truth. While the popular image of volcanic destruction is that of molten rock engulfing everything in its path, far greater devastation takes place high in the air. A supervolcanic eruption column can rise up to 15 miles and the ash, which is dispersed by winds, can blanket the skies for years to come. The toxic gases react in the stratosphere, blocking out solar radiation and drastically cooling the atmosphere below. The resulting volcanic winter, along with other effects like acid rain, can affect the whole planet, disrupting natural cycles and annihilating plant life, on which other organisms, like us humans, depend.

In just several days after the blast, the skies would be dark and deadly, with fallout reaching distances of 1,750 miles from the volcano. Five hundred miles away, ash could settle up to 3 feet deep. Within this zone, movement would be impossible, roads invisible, air travel grounded and people outdoors would not be able to see where they were going, and would probably suffocate. Wet ash would collapse rooftops, short circuit power lines, and clog car engines and power station reservoirs. Nuclear power plants would be forced to close and lawlessness could take over.

Those living in the path of the ash cloud would need to protect themselves with masks and visors. This is because volcanic ash is in fact rock which has been blown apart into tiny pieces and transformed into minute shards of glass with jagged edges. In its fine powder form, this ash is easily inhaled into the lungs, and people and animals can suffer a slow and painful death caused by the rare Marie’s disease. As the lungs fail, the skeletal system goes out of control, rapidly depositing new bone on top of old. This will affect people living even one thousand miles away and within a month of the eruption.

A simulation conducted on what happened during the last time Yellowstone erupted, some 640,000 years ago, showed that in one month’s time, the cloud of fine ash and dust covered the entire Northern Hemisphere and within 18 months the average worldwide temperature dropped by 10 degrees C. As a result, sea ice rapidly grew in the Arctic, reflecting even more of the sun’s rays. This in turn led to a severe rainfall decline, and oceans and land areas retaining more CO2. All of these factors lead to a drop in biological productivity, with food supplies lasting just mere weeks in some areas. According to the analysis, it took roughly 20 years for the planet to recover to its pre-eruption period. So, if the blast and pyroclastic flow of a super volcano can kill millions of people (depending on where it is situated), the volcanic winter that follows will most likely kill billions all over the globe.

7. Aira Caldera, Kyushu, Japan

Now that you have an idea of what a supervolcano is and what devastating effects it can have, we’ll be talking about the seven such active volcanoes we currently know about. The first one is the Aira Caldera, located in southern Japan on the island of Kyushu. At first glance, the Sakura-jima volcano, at the northern half of Kagoshima Bay, looks like any other ordinary volcano. Even though it’s been in near continuous eruption since 1955, and threatening the nearby city of Kagoshima (population of 500,000 people), Sakura-jima doesn’t really stand out from the many volcanoes that dot the Pacific Ring of Fire.

This is highly misleading, as Sakura-jima is just the tip of a much larger and far more dangerous volcano. The fact that it’s positioned on an island in the middle of a bay is the first clue. This is because Kagoshima Bay itself is in fact the infamous Aira Caldera. A caldera, as opposed to a volcanic crater, is a huge depression in the ground which formed after a previous supervolcanic eruption. As the magma chamber emptied, the ground above sank in and partially filled the hole left behind. This caldera in particular formed after a huge eruption about 22,000 years ago, with Sakura-jima beginning to sprout 9,000 years later. Today this volcano acts as a mere vent for the much larger, 150 square mile caldera it sits on. When this supervolcano last erupted, it spewed out roughly 14 cubic miles of material.

Japanese scientists believe that a volcanic eruption big enough to disrupt the whole country has a 1% chance of happening in the next 100 years. With the many tremors that take place around Kagoshima Bay on a daily basis, the Aira Caldera is among the top on that list. If it were to erupt today, lava and pyroclastic flows, as well as ash clouds, could engulf areas where 5 million people currently live. Another 120 million people would be severely affected by ash fallout, which makes up pretty much the whole of Japan.

6. Taupo Caldera, North Island, New Zealand

Lying beneath the surface of one of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth sits the Taupo supervolcano. Located on the North Island in New Zealand, this caldera is currently covered by the country’s largest lake, Lake Taupo. This volcano began forming some 300,000 years ago, with the present caldera coming into existence around 25,000 BC, in what is called the Oruanui Eruption. It ejected somewhere around 288 cubic miles of volcanic material to the surface when it erupted. Today the magma chamber is situated some 5 miles beneath the surface, and is responsible for the largest eruption in the past 5,000 years.

This last major eruption at Lake Taupo took place around 200 AD from vents near Horomatangi Reefs (now submerged). The eruption plume reached heights of 30 miles into the air, well into the stratosphere. The pyroclastic flows that followed engulfed the surrounding area, 55 miles in all directions. This was the largest such event in recorded history, with the Kaimanawa mountains climbing one mile in a matter of minutes. The lake itself was blocked at its mouth, raising the water levels by 112 feet. This natural dam eventually broke out in a huge flood, the effects of which can be traced for over 125 miles downstream, and which include boulder beds and buried forests. It is quite possible that this eruption was the cause for the red sunsets the ancient Romans and Chinese recorded at that time.

5. Toba Caldera, Sumatra, Indonesia

The Toba caldera in Indonesia is responsible for producing the largest volcanic eruption in the past 2 million years. It is also the largest at 18 by 60 miles, which makes a total surface area of over 1000 square miles. This caldera probably formed in stages after eruptions occurred about 840,000, 700,000, and 75,000 years ago. This last one was the largest, spewing out a whopping 670 cubic miles of lava, ash and gas. Pyroclastic flows covered an area of at least 7,700 square miles, with the island of Samosir being engulfed by a thick, 1,800 foot blanket of tuff (pyroclastic debris). The resulting ash from the eruption covered an area at least 1.54 million square miles, and reached distances some 4,350 miles away.

Many scientists believe that this Young Toba Tuff eruption from 75,000 years ago put an incredible strain on the early human population still living in East Africa. So much so that it created a bottleneck from which only a mere couple of thousand people managed to survive. While this close call with extinction humanity faced back then actually happened, recent discoveries seem to point out that Toba wasn’t the main contributor. Archaeological investigations indicate that East Africa’s climate wasn’t so severely affected by the blast and its aftermath as to kill off almost all of humanity. What did it, however, is still a matter of debate. Nevertheless, it seems that the volcanic winter that ensued dropped Earth’s climate by at least 5 degrees C. and may have triggered a new ice age.

4. Valles Caldera, New Mexico, United States

Despite a very green, tranquil and inviting landscape present in New Mexico’s Valles Caldera National Reserve, the presence of hot springs, gas seeps and occasional tremors indicate a disturbing presence hiding underground. The volcanic caldera found there is relatively small compared to others here on this list, but at 14 square miles, it’s quite a hike to walk it from one end to the other. It’s also not the first here, as it collapsed over and buried the older Toledo caldera, which in turn covered previous ones.

This volcano had two mega eruptions in the past 2 million years, one 1.7 and the other 1.2 million years ago, piling up to 150 cubic miles debris and spewing ash as far away as Iowa. The last eruption here took place roughly 50 to 60,000 years ago, but this blast was far smaller in comparison. Though unlikely to erupt in the near future, the Valles Caldera lies above the intersection of the Rio Grande rift and the Jemez lineament, and its volcanic activity is due to tectonic movement along this crossroads. This makes this particular volcano highly unpredictable and hard to pinpoint a future eruption. With nearly 40 deep wells that have resulted in extensive subsurface data, the Valles caldera is the best explored caldera complex in the United States.

3. Campi Flegrei Caldera, Naples, Italy

Everybody knows that the residents of the city of Naples in Italy have always lived in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, which completely wiped off the map the town of Pompeii in 79 AD. What most people don’t know, however, is that on the other side of the city rests a 13 square mile caldera known as Campi Flegrei (burning fields). This caldera makes part of the city’s westernmost outskirts, as well as the Gulf of Pozzuoli. This volcano went through two major eruptions in the past, 47,000 and 36,000 years ago, with smaller periods of activity at relatively regular intervals of roughly 4,000 years. Two eruptions have occurred in recent history, one in 1158 at Solfatara and the other in 1538, which formed the Monte Nuovo cinder cone we see today.

More recently however, back in 2013, a series of earthquakes put the residents of Naples in a state of unrest. Satellite imagery has indicated that the land on top the seemingly dormant caldera had risen by 1 inch in the course of a month, with some regions raising as much as 4 inches. Since the land hasn’t yet receded back to its original state, scientists believe that the chamber beneath the city has filled with about 148 million cubic feet of magma. This is not nearly enough magma to be a major cause for concern, as a super eruption needs a lot more in order to occur. Nevertheless, volcanologists need to keep a very close eye on Campi Flegrei, as these tremors can cause major faults throughout the city of Naples. But if it ever erupts to its full potential, all life in Europe could be lost.

2. Long Valley Caldera, California, United States

Close to the Nevada state line, in east-central California, lays the 200 square mile Long Valley caldera, just south of Mono Lake. The biggest eruption that occurred here took place some 760,000 years ago and unleashed around 3,000 times more lava and other volcanic material than Mount St. Helens in 1980. The ash that ensued reached as far away as Nebraska and the ground above the magma chamber dropped by approximately one mile. What is most worrisome here is that in 1980, after a swarm of earthquakes, roughly half of the caldera had risen by about 10 inches. Ten years later, CO2 and other poisonous gases began to seep through the ground, killing off trees and other vegetation in the Mammoth Mountain part of the caldera.

What sets aside the Long Valley caldera from all others is the fact that, as volcanologists like to put it, this volcano has a split personality. By this they mean that this supervolcano can generate two distinct types of eruptions at once. The first style is a gloppy, not very explosive lava called basalt that poses little blast danger unless it contacts groundwater or snow. The other is richer in glass, called silicic magma, which tends to be more explosive in nature. The official prognosis puts an eruption on any given year at less than 1%, which is somewhat equal to the San Andreas Fault letting loose another magnitude 8 earthquake like the one that destroyed San Francisco in 1906 on any given day.

1. Yellowstone Caldera, Wyoming, United States

Unbeknownst to many tourists who visit Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is the fact that they are actually walking on probably humanity’s biggest natural threat. Several miles beneath their feet lies the largest pocket of magma we currently know about. It is estimated that there’s enough magma in there to fill the Grand Canyon to the brim, eleven times over. The entire national park and the surrounding area form the huge caldera. The caldera is about 1,500 square miles and can fit the entire city of Tokyo in its perimeter.

Yellowstone has been active for a very long period of time and has erupted on different sites, as North America moved over it on its tectonic journey west. Its last three eruptions took place 2.1 million years ago, 1.2 million years ago and 640,000 years ago and were about 6,000, 700 and 2,500 times larger than the St. Helens eruption, respectively. Last time it erupted, it released around 600 square miles of lava on the continent and covered most of the present-day United States in a thick layer of ash. Looking at the pattern of previous eruptions, it looks like Yellowstone could be preparing itself for a new one. However, volcanologists believe that it’s not quite there yet. Nevertheless, the grounds of the caldera have been rising and falling for thousands of years, which clearly indicate that the volcano is still brewing. If and when it finally decides to blow, it is fairly possible that all of the above mentioned catastrophes will happen. Most of the country would be covered in ash, with three feet of ash falling more than 500 miles away, as far as Denver.

A volcanic winter will probably ensue and it could last for up to 20 or more years, lowering overall temperatures by at least 11 degrees C. Together with the humongous amount of poisonous gases like CO2, the planet will then begin to warm up exponentially, similar to the Great Dying event of 235 million years ago. As the planet and oceans back then began to heat up, the vast quantities of methane hydrate (30 trillion tons), which lie frozen on the ocean floor even to this day, began to surface and heat up the planet by another 5 degrees in a positive feedback cycle.

The most frightening thing here, and far more probable than an imminent super eruption, is that what that ancient volcano managed to do in some 500,000 years, in terms of CO2 production and an initial warming of the planet, we humans can achieve in maybe two centuries. One of which has already passed.


SuperVolcano Handbook

WIF Geology

No Helium, No Fun – WIF Science

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 If We

Ran Out

of Helium

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Helium was first discovered in 1895. It is the second most abundant element in the universe and it makes up 0.0005 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere. It is a colorless, odorless gas that is lighter than air and it is the coldest liquid on Earth.

 While it’s abundant in the universe, on Earth, we might be running out of it. You may not know it, but helium is an important part of modern life and possible shortages have been such a big worry that the United States government has been stockpiling helium since the 1960s.

The problem is that once helium hits the atmosphere, it is pretty much useless, so it needs to be mined or pull from natural gas. This makes helium a finite element on Earth.

So what would a post-helium world look like?

10. No More Party and Parade Balloons

When the American government first announced a possible shortage of helium in April 2012, one of the first things suggested to conserve helium is to stop using it to fill up party balloons and balloons used in parades. This is pretty hard to argue against because it’s a completely frivolous use of the a finite element, even if you can get a good laugh out of listening to people’s voices change after inhaling the gas and parades won’t be as exciting. However, as you’ll see, helium has a lot more important uses.

Unfortunately, eliminating helium filled balloons isn’t going to solve the problem of helium running out, because only a minuscule amount of helium is used to fill up balloons. It would be like a pack a day smoker trying to avoid cancer by taking one last puff every year.

9. Airships

The Goodyear Blimp over Dodger Stadium. (Courtesy photo)

One reason that helium is so useful in many different fields is that it is safe to use because it isn’t flammable or combustible. This makes it great for flying machines like blimps. When blimps are filled with a different lighter-than-air gas, such as hydrogen, which is both combustible and flammable, things can go horribly wrong. A notable example is the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, when the German blimp LZ 129 Hindenburg burst into flames while trying to dock at the Naval Air Station Lakehurst in New Jersey. In total, 36 people were killed. While the cause is debated, the fact that the airship was full of flammable and combustible gas wouldn’t have exactly slowed down the fire.

Granted, blimps aren’t common and most people have probably only seen one at an air show or a football game, but amazingly they are still used by different segments of the United States government. One example is the Tethered Aerostat Radar System(TARS). They are unmanned blimps that are used to detect low and slow flying aircraft and marine craft. It’s currently being used along the American-Mexican border and in a portion of the Caribbean.

Another blimp used by the United States is the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, which is used to track things like cruise missiles or even trucks full of explosives. The project has been in development for over two decades and the Pentagon has spent at least $2.7 billion on the project.

A whole other field of flight that wouldn’t work without helium is balloon space tourism. Currently, there are two companies that plan on sending people into space using helium filled balloons. For $75,000 to $125,000, travelers can get into pressurized pods and the balloons will lift them out of the atmosphere. This is similar to the way Felix Baumgartner got to space to do his famous jump.

However, without helium, attempting to reach space in a balloon would be much more dangerous.

8. A Leak Checking Tool

When the Manhattan Project started in 1942, it was important that when they enriched the uranium needed for a nuclear bomb, there couldn’t be any leaks in the pipes or tanks during the process. Even a tiny leak could have been disastrous.

To ensure everything was sealed, the scientists sprayed the welding seams with helium. If there was a leak, the helium would get into it, because out of all the elements, helium has the second smallest atom (hydrogen is smaller, but it is inert, which means it doesn’t move). So helium can find really small leaks, which helps ensure that the tanks and pipes are sealed.

Besides just having a small atom, helium is also non-toxic, non-condensable, and non-flammable, so spraying it won’t leave a trace behind.

Since the Manhattan Project, helium has gone on to be a common way to detect leaks in more than just tanks and pipes. It is used in such industries as food canning, refrigeration, air conditioning, furnace repair, fire extinguishers, aerosol cans, and car parts, just to name a few. Essentially, any industry that relies on sealed cans use helium to look for leaks. That means without helium, we may have products that be will more dangerous because they are leaking, and/or products will be more expensive because some other method will need to be implemented to detect leaks in all those different fields.

7. Some Welding Will be Impossible

One of the most common applications for helium is welding; about 23 percent of the world’s helium supply is used for welding purposes.

Certain arc welding jobs, which is the process of joining two metals using electricity, depends on helium because it is used to keep the molten metal from oxidizing. One type of metal that couldn’t be welded without helium is aluminum. That means things like shipbuilding and building space shuttles will be much more difficult to do.

However, arc welding isn’t the only type of welding that utilizes helium. CO2 laser welding, which is used in car manufacturing, uses helium as a shielding gas. Shielding gas is used to keep the molten metal away from other elements in the air, like oxygen, water, and nitrogen. Without helium, this could cause an increase in vehicle prices while alternative methods are implemented.

6. Barcodes

One of the most common ways that we interact with helium is at the supermarket. Barcodes scanners use helium-neon lasers, also known as HeNe lasers and they use a gas ratio of 10:1 helium to neon. HeNe lasers are used because they are inexpensive, have a low energy consumption, and they are efficient. Besides just barcode scanning, HeNe lasers are also used in other fields, like microscopy, spectroscopy, optical disc reading, biomedical engineering, metrology, and holography.

Of course, the good news in this example is that, as many of you with smart phones already know, there are other ways to scan codes. It will just be a matter of changing over to the new forms of scanning.

5. Space Travel Would Become More Dangerous

A field that would be incredibly hard hit by a lack of helium is the aerospace industry. NASA reportedly uses about 90 to 100 million cubic feet of helium a year in a whole variety of ways.

One way is that when a rocket burns fuel, the fuel that was in the tank is replaced with helium. This ensures that the tank doesn’t collapse under structural pressure. This also reduces the risk of fire or an explosion in the fuel tank. Helium is also useful during space travel because it keeps hot gases away from ultra-cold liquids.

A third way that NASA uses helium is to clean liquid oxygen out of tanks. Finally, there are other minor uses, like it’s needed for pneumatic control systems and it cools fueling handling systems.

Without helium, space travel will still be possible, but it will be a lot more dangerous than it already is.

4. The Large Hadron Collider will be Useless

It’s believed the Large Hadron Collider at CERN can help unlock many of the universe’s mysteries. It’s the biggest, most powerful machine on earth, and it smashes subatomic particles together almost as fast as the speed of light. And in order for the whole thing to work, liquid helium is needed.

Shooting those particles around the 16.7 mile loop are magnets that steer the particle beams. However, they can quickly overheat and they need to be cooled with liquid helium to -452.47 degrees. Also, the niobium-titanium wires that make up the magnets that shoot the particle beams around the loop are housed in a closed liquid-helium circuit that is -456.25 degrees. Liquid helium also cools the entire system down to -456.34 degrees. 

Without liquid helium, the Large Hadron Collider would literally become, and we’re gonna use a technical term here, a hot mess.

3. MRI Scans Will Be Less Common

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a common tool in the medical field and it is used to non-invasively look inside the human body at things like ligaments, spinal cords, and organs, including the brain. A lot of times, ailments like torn ligaments and tumors are diagnosed using MRI machines. However, without helium it will be impossible to run these machines.

How an MRI works is that a magnet is powered and it creates a magnetic field. This field causes the protons of hydrogen atoms in your body to align and then they are exposed to a beam of radio waves. This creates a signal that is picked up by a receiver, which converts the information to a detailed image. However, maintaining that large magnetic field requires a lot of energy. To get that much power and sustain it without overheating, helium is used and that is done by reducing the resistance in the wires to almost zero. This is accomplished by constantly bathing the wires in liquid helium that is -452.38 degrees. On average, one machine uses 1,700 liters of liquid helium.

While there are MRI magnet cooling systems that do not use helium, the problem is that they are not designed for full body MRI machines, like the ones that are in hospitals.

2. Computer Chips and Fiber Optics

As we’ve mentioned a few times, helium is commonly used for cooling. In fact, nearly a third of it is used for cryogenics. One notable feat is that it can be cooled to temperatures near absolute zero, which is -459.67 degrees. This makes it the coldest liquid on Earth.

Another field where cold helium is vital in computers and telecommunications. One of the main uses is with fiber optics, which are cables that are used to connect the internet and telecommunications. Fiber optics can transfer more data over longer distances than wire cables. However, they are much more fragile than wire cables and they need to be housed an in all-helium environment or it can cause air bubbles, which would make them useless.

Another way helium is used when it comes to computers is that computer chips are made using superconductors. Superconductors are basically magnets that are supercharged and don’t overheat thanks to liquid helium.

Without helium, computer chips will be incredibly hard to make. This is going to have big ripple effects on everything that uses computer chips. This includes cars, smart phones, appliances, and of course computers.

1. Scientific Progress Will Be Slowed

The Large Hadron Collider is the biggest experiment that uses helium, but it is also necessary for use in all different types of experiments and machines that are used in universities and laboratories around the world. The reason it’s used is because it’s safe because it isn’t flammable or combustible, which is great for researchers, especially students who are still learning.

So other elements, much more dangerous ones, will have to be used to cool the machines. This will clearly slow down progress and make experiments and machines more dangerous. Even if there was a way to run the machines, that means they will have to be retrofitted or purchased new, which isn’t cheap. For example, Western Michigan University’s chemistry department has a $250,000 machine that needs helium and they have a tank of helium delivered monthly. That is just one department at one university.

Without helium, all fields of scientific study that rely on machines that use helium will be slowed down this includes physics, medical science, chemistry, and computer science, just to name a few. In turn, scientific study will be severely handicapped.


No Helium, No Fun

WIF Science

Quantum Physics Phun – WIF Science

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Implications of

Quantum Physics

Quantum Physics has given a lot of amazing things to humanity in the last few decades. From the technology with which you can track cheating spouses, to accurately scanning broken bones and muscles in the hospital, there are actually many practical applications of Quantum Physics. But if you believe the words of those nerdy scientists who are actually studying the discipline, many more revolutionary discoveries are yet to come (and that doesn’t just include more weird sci-fi movies).

 In the most basic of terms, Quantum Physics fundamentally studies the nature and rules of the tiniest known particles of the universe: those that actually make up the atoms and are broadly called sub-atomic particles. However, much of the discipline is still a mystery, even among the most experienced of Physicists, with many calling it a ‘weird science’.

10. Nuclear Fusion Power Plants

Nuclear fusion in the sun is actually the reason why life exists on earth (and also the reason why Mercury is basically just a lifeless roasted rock). The abundance of Hydrogen atoms in the sun, along with the heat and pressure ensures their constant fusion into Helium atoms, emitting radioactive energy in the process which comes to earth in the form of sunlight. Quantum Tunneling is among the fundamental processes with which fusion occurs in the form in the form of chain reactions.

Scientists and governments are currently trying to mimic this process on Earth, for which the services of Physicists and Engineers with advanced knowledge of Quantum Physics are being employed. Although the dream of powering the electricity grids with nuclear fusion remains a dream, scientists expect that new breakthroughs in the understanding of Quantum Mechanics will bring the dream closer.

9. Perfect Timekeeping

Whether it’s about syncing several space-stations and satellites circling the planet or getting a perfect time-reading from the Mariana trench or Mount Everest, Atomic Clocks, utilizing the principles of Quantum Mechanics are already making enormous contributions to humanity.

However, with the demand for greater accuracy increasing, more advanced Quantum Clocks are expected to be extremely crucial in helping to meet these goals. So, from ultra-precise self-driving cars to space travel, the principles of Quantum Mechanics will be extremely important in setting the pace for the future of humanity.

8. Extreme Computing

While computing technologies have come a long way in the last century, artificial intelligence is only just beginning to catch up the abilities of the human brain. Today’s Silicon-chips based computing technologies are soon expected to be insufficient in handling the demands of the future, where machines and humans are expected to be interconnected in a vast network that will be several times larger than today’s overall internet infrastructure. In this regard, Quantum Computing is currently being identified as the prime technology to replace the current one. The technology basically manipulates the natural properties of the atom to store and process data in real time.

In fact, experimental models of Quantum Computers have already yielded enthusiastic results, although scaling the same to economically feasible units have proven to be rather challenging. However, scientists expect that the technology could start dominating the global landscape by as soon as 2030. With the technology, data processing abilities are expected to make such great leaps that calculation that current take supercomputers over two years may be completed by Quantum Computers in a few seconds.

7. Intergalactic Travel

Humans are still a long way away from establishing habitable outposts on other planetary bodies. However, if you believe the words of well-known futurists (like Dr. Micho Kaku), our hopes of conquering the final frontier will depend a lot on our knowledge of Quantum Mechanics. While conventional technologies may not be able to deliver enough speed for humans to even colonize other planets in the Solar System, astronomers and space-travel enthusiasts frequently are very hopeful about the possibilities offered by Quantum Physics.

The spaceships of today already use Quantum Clocks, while the use of Quantum Computing is expected to bring humans even closer to perfecting future spaceships. Experts believe that the better understanding of Quantum Entanglement will ultimately be the key to perfecting intergalactic travel across wormholes.

6. Extremely Secure Cryptography

With hacking and online security identified as one of the most pressing concerns of this century, the demand for more secure cryptography is high. From banking transactions to personal messages, billions of exchanges of data every minute are supposed to be kept secure. But this has proven to be something that’s not very easy to achieve with existing technologies. It is here that Quantum Cryptography has been identified as the silver bullet against online security threats. Basically, the technology manipulates photons to store and share information on a subatomic level. In fact, the technology has already been successfully applied in several instances (like voting and satellite data).

Major technology companies are already spending their resources on Quantum Cryptography to scale it and make it more accessible for the technologies of the future.

5. Incredibly Detailed Optic Devices

Today, one of the most widespread application of Quantum Mechanics is happening in the field of optics. The most advanced microscopes in the world apply Quantum Tunneling in identifying the smallest objects like DNA and electrons. In fact, most of the modern microscopic innovations and discoveries owe their existence in some way to Quantum Mechanics.

In the future, the most accurate telescopes are expected to make use of advanced Quantum principles as well.

4. Tackling Diseases and Ailments in the Human Body

Over the years, the principles of Quantum Mechanics has played a major role in the development of modern Radiography machines and MRI scanners. In the near future, innovative technologies developed with the application of Quantum Mechanics are set to bring even more massive changes in healthcare.

Experts have identified nanotechnology and quantum computing technologies as the tools that will help deal with threats like cancers and organ failures more effectively in the future. Reliable researches have also pointed out that these technologies will also help the human body fight more effectively against diseases in the future.

3. Finding Evidence of Parallel Universes and the Multiverse

The concept of Parallel Universe has been one of the most fascinating subjects for fans of science-fiction. Indeed, the concept is still broadly considered to be a theory rather than fact. While physicists and astronomers in general are divided over the existence of parallel universes, many well-known scientists have stood behind the concept. On one occasion, Stephen Hawking theorized that black holes could in fact be portals to another universe.

Meanwhile, renowned scientist Brian Greene believes that the concepts laid by the String Theory can point out to the fact that Parallel Universes or Multiverses can indeed exist. Scientists like Hawking and Greene have pointed out that with a better understanding of Quantum Mechanics and with more advanced tools in the future, we may indeed discover sooner or later that the universe isn’t lonely after all.

2. Our Concept of Time and Space

If Einstein’s theory of relativity was already too complex for you, lately modern physicists have theorized ever more ‘outrageous’ concepts today which will undoubtedly confuse you even more. Firstly, in the definition of space, modern physicists are in the consensus that even the seemingly empty parts of the universe aren’t actually empty at all. These supposedly empty parts of the space are held by things the scientists and astronomers call ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’. These two things together is estimated to make up around 95% of the entire universe.

On the other hand, modern physicists consider time to be something of an illusion. In fact, the very concepts of any event as a past, present or future occurrence is refuted, with the principle that reality is timeless. Moreover, the same scientists also entertain the idea that the linear concept of time is incompatible in quantum scale.

So basically, if we believe the words of quantum mechanics enthusiasts, what we thought was empty isn’t actually empty (i.e. space) and what we thought was an undisputed reality doesn’t actually exist (i.e. time). If this concept doesn’t shock you, then you probably don’t exist.

1. Consciousness Makes Reality

What if reality is the result of an accumulative consciousness? Or what if reality didn’t create you, but in fact, you created reality?

Of late, the term that incites the most vigorous debates in the world of Theoretical Physics is consciousness. While there is a basic consensus among Theoretical Physicists that the state of matter at the quantum level can differ to an extent depending upon the interpretation towards it, some scientists like Robert Lanza, Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff have gone a step further and theorized that consciousness actually defines how matter actually acts at the quantum level. Lanza, for instance, considers that time and space are mere tools that are applied by mind to interpret the information of the universe. Hameroff and Penrose have, on the other hand. theorized that consciousness is actually the consequence of quantum gravity effects in vibrating microtubules that are present in the neurons.

Hence, if you would want to believe academics proposing these notions, you are right now creating reality and living in it (like spiders creating their own webs to catch themselves in).


Quantum Physics Fun

WIF Science

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 244

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 244

…for those left behind by Stellar Explorer, it is impossible to learn from the mistakes — when you are not apprised of the actual outcome…

There are no concrete answers let alone solutions, in this speculative world of SOL technology, but man struggles for answers anyway.

When you test drive a new automobile/sky-car/jet-cycle, does one try out every color of your preferred Simplifying the Apple Watch Breathe App Animation With CSS Variables | CSS-Tricksmodel? Does the red one go faster than the black, or does it only look faster? In the case of the SOL Project, the only variable being 397 pounds of human beings, could that have changed the norm to such a radical degree?

Many other like questions and some more technical ones has crossed Roy Crippen’s mind. Perhaps the humblest of those drives to the fundamental heart of the matter: Does man belong in space? In other words, are they technically capable of tackling projects such as SOL or going twenty years back, Space Colony 1?

You can have everything right, cover all your bases and this happens:

  1. a killer satellite from a rogue nation blasts the first orbiting space colony out of  Martian orbit, stranding the world’s most prominent and popular married couple and they disappear before they can be rescued
  2. the accelerator on a spacecraft, that has only been on a couple test-drives, gets stuck just as two of your young and brightest test-pilots reach the speed-of-light and those brave young men are related to their folks in number 1

Bad luck–maybe, bad science or bad math—probably, but in either case it is impossible Image result for it doesn't add up gifto learn from the mistakes, when you are not apprised of the actual outcome:

  1. Either branch of The Space Family McKinney tree is alive and well. Without the clueless people on Earth knowing, their math is incorrect
  2. Courtesy of the planet Eridanus, instead of -4, the count of McKinneys in space thought lost currently stands at +5, with the actual addition of Deimostra.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 244


page 219

Old Thoughts, Bad Thoughts – WIF Myth and Legend

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Odd Things

People Used

to Believe

Humans have believed all kinds of strange things throughout our short time on this planet. This is, in part, because humans (and our evolutionary ancestors) love stories. We gather around campfires and invent entire mediums, industries, and technologies to aid in their telling. But on the other hand, humans have always had a deep need to understand the world we inhabit, and the combination of these qualities can lead to very uninformed people believing some very strange things.

10. The Sun is Actually Really Cold

He believed that the sun wasn’t hot, that it was actually very cold, but that its outer layers were of a luminous material, or an extremely reflective ocean. The discovery of sunspots had him reeling with possible ideas, suggesting that these were either momentary glimpses at the surface beneath the atmosphere or great mountain peaks that were being exposed by the tides of a vast ocean.

Obviously, these theories were laughed out of scientific circles by a host of polymaths, and Herschel’s ideas never caught on. The sun isn’t cold, and those sunspots are actually produced by the sun’s magnetic field.

9. Isaac Newton’s Future

Isaac Newton may have been known for his scientific exploits, but he was also absolutely obsessed with Alchemy, going so far as to construct his own furnaces to produce alchemical experiments. He wrote about these things extensively, using code to hide his theories from prying eyes, believing that anything could be transformed into anything else (something we know now is very wrong). If these texts were observed by anyone from modern times, they would be seen as occult or religious tracts. He was so obsessed with Alchemy and the supernatural that it might be considered that his interest in science was his real hobby.

To Newton, the philosopher’s stone was a real thing, which he was constantly searching for.

Newton was also fiercely religious and believed that the Bible should be taken literally. He spent much of his time attempting to uncover a secret code created by the authors of the Bible, something left by God that would redeem humanity before His inevitable return.

After studying Biblical texts extensively, he concluded that the world as we know it would end in 2060 and that it would be preceded by an apocalypse.

8. Bloodletting

All the way up until the start of the 1900s, the practice of applying leeches or cutting parts of a person’s body open to drain them of their blood was not only common, it was a thriving industry. The practice comes from the erroneous belief that all illness comes from the body having too much blood in it and that to cure that illness, the excess blood needs to be drained from the patient.

This is, of course, false, and while the practice of bloodletting fell and rose throughout history, it was perhaps never more popular than in the 1800s. It was a common practice for leeches to be imported for this purpose, and it’s estimated that in France alone, 42 million leeches were imported each year. These leeches were used to drain the blood from patients, cared for by barbers (yes, you read that correctly). A patient could have as many as 100 leeches applied to them. Barbers and caregivers would coat the part of the body they wished to apply the leech to with sugar-water, milk, or blood to entice the tiny critters to start sucking. This industry caused leeches to become fairly scarce, driving the cost of them up by 300%, and forcing “care-givers” to find inventive ways to extend the life of a leech.

The first physician didn’t come out against bloodletting until 1828.

7. Lambs Grew on Trees

During the Middle Ages, it was a common belief that the cotton being imported from India came from a vegetable that had a lamb attached to it by umbilical. This inaccuracy was reported by Sir John Mandeville in the 1300s. Mandeville wrote that in Tartary (the part of the map we know of as Russia and Mongolia today) a strange plant that produced gourds containing tiny lambs was a common sight.

It turns out that much of what Mandeville wrote about his travels were either outright lies or based on notes from other travelers.

Another version of this myth suggests that these vegetable lambs would die once they ran out of food surrounding their pod if they weren’t killed by their natural predator (wolves).

Other writers would go on to claim to have seen these vegetable lambs, and the belief would not start to crumble until the 1600s.

6. Women’s Orgasms Were A Sign of Insanity

As late as the early 20th century, it was believed that women did not experience sexual desire and that the female orgasm was something that needed to be solved, rather than a thing which could be beneficial to a woman’s mental and physical health.

Sigmund Freud was one of the physicians who proposed the idea that clitoral stimulation could lead to psychosis in women, a “theory” which saw quite a few women institutionalized as a result. Women who had difficulty or could not have a vaginal orgasm were labeled as lesbians (which was also thought to be a mental illness), imbalanced, and masculine.

History has had a bad habit of demonizing the female orgasm. The vibrator was originally invented so that doctors could relieve “hysteria” (known as sexual frustration today) in women, and it was generally not believed that women were capable of experiencing sexual desire and were merely receptacles for male anatomy.

Today, we know that the female orgasm is beneficial not only to a woman’s mental health but also to her physical health as well.

5. Cosmic Ice Theory

In 1912 Hanns Hörbiger attempted to challenge the scientific community by introducing a controversial theory which suggested that humanity, the stars, and the planets were all made of… ice. Hanns and his partner, Philip Fauth, argued that the formation of the Milky Way was caused by the collision of a massive star with a dead star filled with water. This collision resulted in the formation of the Milky Way galaxy and dozens of other solar systems—all made of ice produced from the collision. When these ideas were challenged for not making any mathematical sense and for there not being any physical evidence for it, Hanns said “Calculation can only lead you astray,” and, “Either you believe in me and learn, or you will be treated as the enemy.”

This ridiculous theory didn’t catch on with mainstream science at the time, not until the conclusion of World War I at least, when Hanns decided to take his theories into the public sphere, where they might be better appreciated.

His rationale was that if the general public grew to accept the theory that they were in-fact made of ice, then the scientific community would have to accept it as well (we mean, isn’t that how science works?). While serious scientists did not accept his theory, many socialist thinkers at the time did, concluding that it was superior to theories invented by Jews.

And you are probably guessing where this is leading. Hitler, Himmler, and all of his cronies also adopted these ideas as well, along with a whole bunch of other horrifying things.

4. Doctors Didn’t Need to Wash their Hands

Before the advent of germ theory, medical professionals would go from examining dead bodies to performing live births on mothers, which as you can imagine, caused all manner of infections and a high mortality rate among patients they cared for. It wasn’t until 1840, when Ignaz Semmelweis, a 19th-century Hungarian doctor observed that one of his fellow surgeons died after cutting his finger during an autopsy.

Semmelweis surmised that because many of the doctors in his hospital often operated on corpses before treating live patients, they were inadvertently spreading “cadaveric matter.” And when he instituted the policy that all of his doctors were to wash their hands between patients, the mortality rate at his hospital dramatically dropped. Naturally, he wanted to spread this discovery with the rest of the medical world.

There was quite a bit of resistance to this idea, though, mostly because Semmelweis’ publication on the matter was barely coherent, and handwashing wouldn’t be strongly advocated for until 1860 by famous nurse Florence Nightingale. And it wouldn’t be until the discovery of germ theory that handwashing would become a staple in hospitals around the world.

3. Sexual Energy Controls the Universe

Wilhelm Reich went from being the enemy of Fascist Europe to being the enemy of the US Government, from psychoanalyst to the founder of sexual liberty in the West. Reich believed that orgasms were caused by a mysterious energy in the atmosphere called “orgone” and that this energy permeated and moved the entire universe. He suggested that a good orgasm could liberate a man or woman, and a bad orgasm could make them a prisoner.

Sexual liberation was not exactly in vogue in Hitler’s Germany at the time, so Reich was forced to flee to New York, where his ideas would be embraced by the disenfranchised left. Reich even “invented” a device that he claimed could “energize” a person with orgone. The device, called an “Orgone Energy Accumulator,”  was feared by conservatives and revered by left-leaning individuals, and some even swear by its power today. Reich’s ideas got him labeled as a communist sympathizer in the 50s, and eventually, the FDA would come after him for selling his Orgone Accumulators, demanding that they be destroyed along with all literature pertaining to them.

Reich would be arrested for violating this order and sent to Federal prison, where he would die alone in 1957.

2. Women’s Bodies were not Designed to Handle Train Rides

The resistance we’re seeing to the rise of artificial intelligence and 5G internet is nothing new, it’s age-old. When the first locomotive was unveiled, men feared that its immense speed (top speed getting up to 50 miles per hour, or 80 kilometers per hour) would cause a woman’s uterus to fly from her body.

A companion to this fear was that the human body, male or female, might melt if brought to similar speeds.

Cultural anthropologist Genevieve Bell suggests that this revulsion to new and developing technologies results from a kind of “moral panic” that a society experiences when an invention threatens to alter how we perceive time and space. Put more simply, we humans hate changes to the status quo, and we’ll kick and scream until that change either goes away or we realize it really isn’t so bad after all.

1. The Earth was the Center of the Solar System

Up until the end of the 2nd Century AD, it was thought that the Earth was the center of the universe. Although this notion is ridiculous to the vast majority of us who accept the clearly superior Heliocentric model (which purports that all bodies in the solar system revolve around the sun), to humans observing the skies in the 2nd Century, it did seem like the sun, stars, and the moon all revolved around the Earth.

Beyond famous Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Ptolemy, early Christianity taught that God had placed the Earth at the center of the universe, thereby making it unique.

Though recently, conspiracy theorists have begun a movement bordering on cult-like proportions suggesting that the Heliocentric model is a huge hoax perpetrated by world governments and that the Earth is actually flat, we don’t have to tell you that this is bullocks, do we?

The Geocentric model of the universe was so pervasive in human history, that it would remain the scientific rule until being invalidated in the 16th Century AD.


Old Thoughts, Bad Thoughts

WIF Myth and Legend

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 203

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 203

…they believe the end of year 2035 is near, a conceptual rendering of time, partially reconnoitered by Sammy’s growth and keeping track on an old-fashioned wristwatch…

Painting of Nestor Ferronato

As the enlarging emergence of Epsilon Eridani and the heightened anticipation it is Related imageproducing, Sampson’s demeanor stabilizes; finally a goal is in sight. There aren’t stars around every corner. In the coming of a new orange sphere, he can sense the warmth internally, even though an Earthly comparison would be like spotting the Rocky Mountains from the east while driving an automobile. What seems like a day later, you first get the sense you are going uphill.

epsilon eridani by arise chicken117

The far-reaching scope of the NEWFOUDLANDER’S viewscreen becomes the hot topic as they believe the end of year 2035 is near, a conceptual rendering of time, partially reconnoitered by Sammy’s growth and keeping track on an old-fashioned wristwatch. The estimated forty trillion, that is the #40 with twelve zeroes, miles of space traveled, where nothing but darkness and tiny white dots dominate the viewscreen, finally there is a tangible celestial objects to train their longing eyes on.

Five (that is the #5 with no zeroes) heavenly bodies they are coming upon. Other than the obvious blazing tangerine fireball, this system’s sun, a star from Earth telescope’s perspective, four immense planets are orbiting Epsilon Eridani at the far-out distance equal to Jupiter’s. They are spaced far enough apart in the planes of their orbits so that their gravitation cancels each other’s out. There are no other significant bodies inside this planetary parade, although there is one nearly continuous band of asteroids, meteors, and comet-like matter circling Epsilon 100 million miles out.

Each of these gigantic spheres numbers many objects as “moons” as an entourage.Epsilon Eridani b.jpg Several of these would make sizable planets on their own merit and perhaps they were before this quartet of gravity hogs drew them into their inescapable clutches.

“Get a load of that one,” Sampson to Celeste & Sammy, “it is twice the size of Jupiter!”

A NEWFOUNDLANDER monitor dedicated to geological activity reveals a tempestuous surface, three-fourths boiling with volcanism. Elsewhere, raging magnetic storms ripple through a conspicuously toxic atmosphere.


THE RETURN TRIP

great destination by henryz – deviatart.com

Episode 203


page 184

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 199

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 199

…the American people are not about to tamper with the perception of perfection… perception being the trigger for reality…

Perfection in Octad, 2010 by Rizwana A Mundewadi

It becomes very apparent by the pre-election year of 2035 that no one has the stomach to mount a challenge to Crippen/Walker. Not even the garden-variety armchair billionaire, with cash to burn and no need of a good reputation, will waste his time or money. Oh, the Democrats have scrounged up a glossy young candidate for convention purposes, but that only serves as a checks/balance to incumbent power, thereby preserving a solid 2.5-party system for future use.

At this particular point in history, the American people are not about to tamper with the perception of perfection… perception being the trigger for reality.

There is, however, steadily rising suspicion surrounding the United States’ and Roy Crippen’s inspired pet-project: SOL. Once it is achieved, speed-of-light travel will give the creator and his nation the single largest advantage ever attained by man.

  1. Unless you count 5000 BCE, when the wheel was invented.
  2. Or before that, some ancient figured out how to start a fire manually.
  3. Or, after all that, anything from “The Wizard of Menlo Park” (Edison).

To those who are screaming foul, Roy Crippen reminds those earth-bound worriers that SOL is only possible in the darkness of space. During his various discourses on the subject, President Roy reminds the wider-world that when plans for Space Colony II were vacated, with each nation taking the cash-out option from the insurance settlement, gone are the days when every new technology is shared. For those who are jealous, SOL translates to “s**t-out-of-luck”.

Surely the usual defendants, i.e. Russia, China, United Korea, Talibanistan, will do their best to beg, borrow or steal the expertise, but Prez Roy has cleverly invited them to the technology feast, on his terms only, with pre-approved scientists. The former Aldona Afridi, using his Fletcher Fitch disguise, is in charge of (dis)parsing the know-how.

The Crippen dedication to the SOL Project is a given, with the trusting approval of the voting public. Of course there are the “Starships cause hardship” arguers, but they need only look to everyday improvements to their lives for moral validation.

And now Deke & Gus McKinney, having blossomed during the SOL (also the ancient Roman Sun-god) era at NASA, has their hand prints all over the wet-cement that is the speed-of-light. And though the stairs only go to the second floor, look for them to lift it out – off the drawing board and past the Moon.


THE RETURN TRIP

2nd Floor Upstairs Neon by Dean Harte

Episode 199


page 184

Turn On The Lights – WIF Next Gen Power

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The Future of Power:

New  Sources

of Energy

Listen, fossil fuels have been great. They’ve provided such an abundance of cheap energy over the last century and change that we’ve ridden their wave from horses and muskets all the way to rocket ships and the internet. But there are costs to burning them (you know, like how you also burn the planet). As the cons begin to outweigh the pros, it’s abundantly clear the time of oil and coal is rapidly coming to an end.

The debate over which renewable sources could potentially replace them (and therefore deserve more public investment) has been raging for years now. But solar, wind, hydroelectric and nuclear (fission) are just the beginning. Turns out one thing we don’t have a shortage of is jaw dropping ideas for energy production that can, with the right resources and public investment, be implemented within our lifetimes. Things like…

8. Nuclear Waste

Nuclear fission reactors have been around forever, currently provide roughly 20% of America’s energy, and will likely be a central component to any climate response plan due to the low greenhouse damage they cause. Contrary to popular belief, they’re also quite safe, as accidents like the infamous Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters are preventable and rare. But there is one problem that isn’t being overblown, and that is the nuclear waste issue.

Current light-water technology surrounds uranium fuel rods with enough water to slow the neutrons and generate a sustainable fission reaction, but only an unacceptably inefficient 5% of the uranium atoms inside the rods can be used before they have to be replaced. The remaining 95% kind of just gets dumped into an ever-growing stockpile (90,000 tons and counting) that we don’t really know what to do with. This is where Fast Reactor technology comes in, which submerges the rods in sodium and can therefore switch those numbers: using 95% of the uranium and only dumping the remaining 5% rather than further contributing to the current mess. If we can muscle our way past the political stigma against nuclear power, this technology has real potential.

7. Nuclear Fusion

Of course, we don’t have to stick with fission at all. At least not long term. Nuclear fusion, in which molecules are combined into a new element using immense heat and pressure, is safer, overwhelmingly more powerful, clean and harmless to the environment, and could provide power in enough abundance to launch mankind into the kind of future only dreamed of on The JetsonsSadly, at this moment it’s not easy to sustain net positive (meaning we get more energy out of the reaction than we have to put in to trigger it) fusion reactions long enough to be commercially viable.

There’s an old adage commenting on the long, long road fusion has already traveled and how far it still has before we start rolling it out: “nuclear fusion is the power source of the future, and always will be.” It’s funny and a bit depressing, given the enormous potential that always seems to be just one breakthrough away. But we know fusion, the Holy Grail of clean energy research, works. We need only look up at the stars, which exist because of fusion. So technically, since none of us would exist without the sun, you do too. 

6. Geothermal Energy

As appealing as fusion and wind are, though, there’s certainly something to be said for an energy source that doesn’t depend on expensive reactor facilities or unreliable weather conditions. Enter geothermal energy: heat pulled straight from beneath the surface of the Earth, where there’s always plenty. Now technically, we’ve been harnessing geothermal energy for over a century by just collecting it from water and steam. But modern geothermal harnessing techniques are limited, both in range of use (even when the technology is mature, it’s mainly used for basic heating and cooling functions) and by geography itself (we have to harness the heat where it is, almost always in tectonically active areas).

However, we’re constantly improving at both getting to the heat and spending less money, effort and time doing it. And in the very near future, expect technologies falling under the umbrella of Enhanced Geothermal Systems, which drill and pour water into ‘hot dry rock’ areas in the earth’s crust in order to turn the currently inaccessible energy stores there into several times more usable, clean energy than fossil fuels currently give us access to, to reshape the energy landscape.

5. Space-Based Solar

The first thing anyone thinks of when they hear the term ‘renewable energy’ is probably solar. Why wouldn’t they? The sun is bombarding the earth with more raw power every second than we’ve ever managed to spend in a year. But the problem was never a lack of it; it’s always been harnessing and storing the stuff. Luckily, solar panels are getting cheaper and better at an alarming clip. But what if we could harness the sun’s energy in space? It’s always there, after all, in waves not filtered and diluted by the fickle atmosphere (which reflects 30% of it back into space anyway).

The basic idea would be to construct enormous solar farms which would collect the sun’s high-energy radiation and use mirrors to deposit the energy into smaller collectors, which would then send it to Earth in the form of microwaves or laser beams. As of right now, this technology is prohibitively expensive. But maybe it won’t be for long. After all, companies like SpaceX are constantly engineering ways to drive down the cost of sending cargo into space, so hopefully we’ll be running out of excuses not to build one of these world-changing (and charging) behemoths in our lifetime.

4. Solar Windows

But you know what? Cool as space solar is, we don’t actually have to go into space to revolutionize solar energy generation (which is already revolutionizing energy itself). Down here on the surface, solar panels are already covering rooftops throughout Europe and desert expanses in the American Southwest, not to mention steadily eating away into fossil fuel dominance. With upcoming quantum dot solar cell technology about to burst onto the scene, which essentially replaces standard silicon with artificial, solar-energy collecting molecules, expect the revolution not just to continue, but to accelerate. 

Before we continue, it’s worth noting that lots of cool but ultimately impractical solar-panel-as-something-else designs (where solar panels replace roads, walls, windows, etc) have been floated lately. The problem always comes down to the fact that solar panels just aren’t advanced enough to double in function. But quantum dot tech may change that. Imagine every window in the world filled with solar harnessing technology that you wouldn’t even be able to see with an electron microscope. So say goodbye to those unsightly panels, because without even looking different, your transparent windows might function as mini power stations in just a few short years.

3. Tidal Power

We already have hydroelectric power, generated by massive dams that use rushing river water to turn energy turbines. It’s powerful, clean stuff and certainly worth continuing to use. But it’s nothing compared to the untapped energy of the ocean’s currents, which, if properly harnessed, could power the planet several times over. Sadly, solar and wind cornered the renewable market early on, and as a result, tidal power is only just now getting reconsidered due to its enormous potential.

Oyster, for example, is essentially a giant hinged flap bolstered to the ocean floor, which swings back and forth with the current and pumps enough resulting energy to the surface to power thousands of homes. There’s also the Terminator turbine, designed by Air Force Academy engineers and inspired by aircraft, which ditches drag technology for wing-like lift, in order to (theoretically) harness an astonishing 99% of available tidal power (as opposed to the standard 50%). And the potential isn’t limited to raw energy generation, either. Perth, Australia just started using a tidal-powered desalination plant that can provide drinking water for more than half a million residents.

2. Hydrogen

Advantage number one: burning Hydrogen produces just about no pollution or greenhouse emissions at all, which is why NASA has been using the stuff to send rockets and shuttles into space for years. Sadly, it’s tough to expand this energy source to a global scale since hydrogen, the simplest and most abundant element in the universe (by orders of magnitude) isn’t available in large enough quantities where we can actually get it (unless it’s combined with other elements like Oxygen, as is the case with H2O).

But if we could figure this out, maybe by engineering a way to separate hydrogen from the elements of which it’s a part, we could change the world. Luckily, such hydrogen fuel cells, which may very well be the future of transportation, are already being built. Honda is actually planning to demonstrate the power and efficiency of this technology with a new Clarity Fuel Cell car by plugging the vehicle into a house which it will then power (as opposed to electric vehicles, which would draw power from the house). Like all new technology, of course, this will be expansive and unavailable to the public at large for some time. But the potential is real.

1. Biofuel

Like a lot of entries on this list, biofuel itself has been around for ages. Henry Ford actually envisioned his Model T car running on ethanol before cheap oil was found everywhere and captured the energy market instantly. Ethanol, the first generation of biofuel, is making a comeback too, but the fact that it can only be harnessed using the same land and resources as food is problematic (and driving up the cost of food). Generation 2’s switchgrass was floated as an alternative for a while, due to its hardiness and ability to grow like a weed virtually anywhere. But we’d need an amount of land equivalent to Russia and the US combined to grow it in large enough quantities to overtake fossil fuels as the primary power source for cars, so that won’t work.

But what about algae? Its natural oil content is over 50%, it’s not food, and doesn’t require fields or fresh water to grow. Instead, the remaining parts of the plant can be converted into gas and electricity and fertilizer to grow more algae in small labs. This one’s no brainer, folks.


Turn On The Lights

WIF Next Gen Power