Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

The Grid

I've got to tape a segment for Fresh Air about my story on the Grid in National Geographic....I hope they don't try to stump me with questions about how electricity works. Would result in much verbal arm-waving, if you can imagine such a thing. I think it airs Thursday, fyi.

Here's my story.

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 6, 2010; 1:36 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Strasburg delivers
Next: Heatmaggedon


I remember when the grid ("Da Grid") fell on itself a number of years ago. During this hellish weather pattern I'm trying to fax an amount of good karma in numbers entirely too huge to fathom to keep Da Grid upright and working.

Posted by: -ftb- | July 6, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Along the Columbia, whose banks are draped with wires, they have to stop the windmills sometimes when the dams are running full bore, not enough wires I guess.

Posted by: shrink2 | July 6, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Grid-related question. I just heard an NPR discussion on electric cars. The panel had about 2/3 proponents of massive switchover to electric cars by, say, 2030. About 1/3 of the panelists were highly skeptical.... they quoted articles from back in about 1910 trumpeting electric cars as the future. The skeptics scoffed that the electric car has been tried off and on for a century and has failed every time.

Here is my question: could I go to a plug-in electric car that is fueled by a stand-alone solar setup. Lots of hot water heaters are stand-alone solar. What (besides cost, of course) would prevent me from seting up a solar charging station that would charge, say, 4 batteries, allowing me about 250-300 miles of go?

That type of setup would avoid the argument made by the skeptics that switching to all-electric is pretty much just switching from a gasoline engine to a coal engine.

Posted by: baldinho1 | July 6, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Surprisingly, nearly all of Central America seems to be on a single grid. It's not an easy place, physically or politically, to do that.

I'm not sure whether southern Florida's shape is a good or bad thing. It's worrisome when a proposal to enlarge a nuclear plant south of Miami runs into questions about rising sea level, already a problem.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 6, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Here is a response from Plug In America:

Q: Can I charge a plug-in car with solar or wind power?
A: Yes. The cleaner the power the cleaner the car. Using solar PV or wind power at your home or business makes even more sense with a plug-in car. The investment pays off faster, and the car becomes truly zero-emission. EVs typically can travel 3-4 miles (or more) per kWh. If you drive 12,000 miles per year, you will need 3,000-4,000 kWh. Depending on where you live, you will need a 1.5kW-3kW PV system to generate that much power using about 150-300 sq. ft. of space on your roof. In fact, many EV drivers recharge their cars from rooftop solar panels today, generating virtually no pollution for their local driving.

Back to me: this seems doable, depending on how much sun my roof gets. My guess is in NH the winter will be hard to keep up with lots of driving, as the days are short and the temperatures cold.

I gotta think you have to really want to eliminate CO2 to pay for a solar charging setup AND pay the premium for the car AND pay for the routine replacement of aged batteries. Who knows?

Posted by: baldinho1 | July 6, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

DOC: if the big nuclear plant became submerged, think of the savings on cooling! All that tower maintenance goes away.

Posted by: baldinho1 | July 6, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

And this is a great piece - things we don't often think about.

Dang, I 'd just kicked that Robert Palmer "I Dream of Wires" tune cootie, and now the Gary Numan version's kicking in.

Ah, well, it could be worse.

Good luck with the taping, Joel.
I've seen you rock a mic in person -- I'm sure you'll comport yourself with the usual professionalism. [Don't make 'em bring in the 8-sec delay.]

Don't forget to check the cell phone battery (and turn the ringer off) and the cough button.

Good grief, can it really be 4 years ago this week of that infamous show on WaPo radio (undoubtedly hastening it's demise)?


Posted by: -bc- | July 6, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

The one nit that I would pick with this article relates to solar power. Distributed solar generation correlates almost perfectly with periods of peak use. Peak demand inevitably occurs during hot, sunny periods in the summer from 1pm to 6pm. Amazingly, that is also the same period of time during which solar power is capable of generating the most power. Solar power is often derided as uneconomical when compared to $0.08/kWh power, but in fact, the peak power that it offsets is much, much more expensive--probably like $0.50/kWh or more.

The somewhat ironic thing about Xcel Energy, who are running the smart meter experiment in Boulder and provide (backup) power to NREL (as well as Denver and Minneapolis) is that they have all sorts of tariff rules in place to discourage solar generation, including not allowing retail customers to "sell" electricity (net meter) back to the grid. While their undertaking in Boulder is interesting, it's pure PR that doesn't stand much chance of being implemented in the rest of CO or MN.

Posted by: Awal | July 6, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I really enjoyed this article. I thought it was technically precise and found just the right tone.

I especially liked the explanation of how frequency works as a feedback mechanism. I think a lot of people don't realize that electricity takes the notion of "just in time inventory" literally. And as I have said before, if you wanna get rich, invent better batteries.

Although robustness is, of course, the key challenge for the aging grid, another topic of concern is something called power quality.

This has to do with how precisely the voltage and current align in alternating current, as well as how closely everything approaches an ideal sinusoid. Poor power quality leads to inefficiencies and can muck up certain precision devices.

Concerns over power quality quality have led to an increasing reliance on "power conditioners." These are the electrical equivalent of water filters. They take relatively sloppy public alternating current and turn it into the cleaner and more precise alternating current suitable for more persnickety machinery.

And Joel, if you ever get caught in a bind with a tricky question just make reference to electromagnetic flux. That usually settles 'em down.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 6, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Totally cool, Mr. A! MrJS loves Fresh Air.

[Don't make 'em bring in the 8-sec delay.]
bc, I think it's gonna be a taped show. Aren't 8-sec delays only for 'live' broadcasts?

Don't matter. Mr. A will be trif in any case.

Netherlands strikes early over Uruguay.

Posted by: MsJS | July 6, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

That power plant's cooling canals unintentionally became wildlife habitat: crocodiles love the warm water. The canal system was controversial due to fears that it would generate fog banks in winter. Other plants, all of them old, inadvertently became cold-weather shelters for manatees.

The not-in-my-backyard aspect of large power lines must be a huge barrier to improving electic grids in the US. For the same reason, I doubt that true high speed rail service can ever be provided from Boston to New York. Maybe not even from New York to Philadelphia.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 6, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Very nice goal by the Uruguay star Forlan. I like him. His name sounds like a computer programming language.

Posted by: -pj- | July 6, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Awal, you are accurate on the peak demand x peak production. But it's not just for hot days.

In MN, the coldest days tend to be very clear and the solar efficiency actually improves due to the better conduction in the cold, so a sunny winter day in MN can actually produce a surprising amount of electricity (or so a Green show told me), as long as the snow is off the panels.
I think a very hot day would impair efficiency somewhat, but this is of course offset by the amount of solar energy pouring in. Unless we figure out how to use snow power, we'll probably be out of luck when blizzards hit, though.

Huge electric reservoirs or tapping geothermal energy as well may be the ticket.

Or, just owning a lot of huge, shaggy dogs for those cold nights.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 6, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

pj -- you mean there's a guy named Fortran? Cool. My favorite programming language way back when on those behemoths with the false floors (ahhhh, punch cards and paper tapes ... them were the days, eh?).

Posted by: -ftb- | July 6, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

TBG-- the time might be right for a BPH, but the heat wave isn't, so let's stay cool instead.

I'd love to attend Yoki's BPH via webcam and IM though. Keep me posted?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 6, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Another problem with power lines, transformers, inversion, etc., is the massive amount of energy all of this loses (essentially, as heat), to the atmosphere. This is why they can not be buried, they would melt. Grid transmission loss is another argument for local/retail power generation.

Posted by: shrink2 | July 6, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Forlan seems a little buggy... Saw one shot of him yelling and his tongue looks almost black.

Ah, the costs of having to be on the road for the first half.


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Netherlands is putting some good pressure on..

Corner for naught...

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Forlan's almost Beckham-like on the set pieces... Keeper does well to push that aside...

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

One Netherlands shot deflected by the keeper, Robben lofts the rebound over the crossbar!!

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Netherlands sneaks one in!!!! 2-1 lead!!!

Off a Uruguayan leg!

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I think Fortran is his first name, ftb.

I'm off today and tomorrow and don't have cable. So I'm watching the game on Univision. I don't speak Spanish. So I'm not sure who I'm watching. Tomorrow, however, I get Espana vs. Alemania. That will be fun to watch.

Posted by: -pj- | July 6, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Robben drives home a picture-perfect cross!!! 3-1 Netherlands!!!

Somewhere, Burt Ward is smiling... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

My goodness! Nice header that was impossible for the goalie to defend.

Posted by: -pj- | July 6, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Ah, I now see I'm watching Uruguay vs. Países Bajos. So it's not just the orange guys vs. the baby blue guys. And the baby blue guys are feeling the blues.

Posted by: -pj- | July 6, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

THAT was NOT a yellow-worthy challenge...

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Scotty. That didn't look like much to me either.

Posted by: -pj- | July 6, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Oooooooh, Robben wants that chance back!!! Just whiffed on that lovely flick-on!!

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

My my.

On a whim I picked Netherlands to win it all in a local pool. I just checked and I'm going to win enough for a nice dinner for two just by virtue of them making the finals.

Posted by: MsJS | July 6, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Aiieee!!! Robben couldn't quite pop it over the keeper!

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Kind of a weak finish for Países Bajos on that breakaway.

Posted by: -pj- | July 6, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Furious Uruguay push foiled by an offsides...

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Van Bommel's lucky to have avoided a red for that extra boot in the Uruguayan's naughty bits...

And an Uruguay ground-hugger makes it 3-2!!!

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Great goal by Uruguay! Not going to be enough, though.

Posted by: -pj- | July 6, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Where'd that yellow come from???

This is getting very odd...

But it's over!! The Orange are to the final!!!!

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

My computer says it's 102 outside. That's about 39-40 C. I ain't gonna go out and test it. What shocks me (if anything does anymore) is that there are still people sunning themselves around the pool outside my window.


Posted by: -ftb- | July 6, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Totally off-topic, you 'Merikans better stock up on Forever stamps cuz the Snail Mail Service wants to raise the first-class stamp rate to 46 cents.

I'm hoping to get a new sign for my local station. The letters wore off several years ago and were replaced with strips of gray electrical tape. Now the tape has gotten very frayed.

With the extra funds the rate increase will bring in, there oughta be a spare $1.79 for a new roll of tape with which to make new letters.

Posted by: MsJS | July 6, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

I bought stamps at the Post Office today...but they didn't have Forever stamps. If the Post Office doesn't, who does? It's a conspiracy, I tell ya.

The last time the rates went up, I thought about buying a lot of Forever stamps, but for the few stamps I use each month (for bills - so 20th century) it wasn't worth it.

Posted by: seasea1 | July 6, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Ow ow ow... Shouldn't have checked the local temp.

102, but it only feels like 101. :-O

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

The soccer game was broadcast in Hungary using the German feed. Not that it made the game any less dull.

But you have never laughed until you have seen 'Zwei Und Halb Mann' im Deutch.

And I forgot by tattoo story from this morning. The best tattoo I've ever seen was a Medusa head complete with the head full of snakes. It was on a bridesmaid at a Baptist wedding.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 6, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Oh my, I hadn't seen the Adidas ad with the World Cup version of the Mos Eisley Cantina! *LOL*

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 6, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Today's beer update:

Today's first beer was Kelt, a Slovakian beer I bought at a truck stop outside Bratislava for 0.62 Euro, or about 75 cents, for a half liter bottle. The same amount of lemon seltzer water cost over a dollar.

Today's second beer was Dreher, a Hungarian beer the bar was having a World Cup special on. I used as a chaser for my shot of Unicom, a Hungarian liquer designed to give Jagermeister a run for its money.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 6, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear about your injury. Recover quickly.

I work in a sub-field where loss of the power grid is considered Failure Zero when considering redundancy, meaning the system is assumed to not have electricity from the utility. From there, the question is how long the system can stay on and what else can break without anything else quitting.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 6, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Now I'm watching a show called ComedyStreet which seems to be a German variation on 'Candid Camera', only with more toplessness.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 6, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

"...75 cents, for a half liter bottle [of outstanding beer]. The same amount of lemon seltzer water cost over a dollar."

Well there you have it, sometimes you just can't afford to stay sober. Thank you so much for the travelogue, it keeps me hardly working.

Posted by: shrink2 | July 6, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

seasea, maybe my mother was there earlier that day and cleaned them out of Forever stamps.

Just before the $0.41 to $0.42 increase in stamps, Mom went in to the Post Office to buy enough Forever stamps to last through all the mailing associated with my then-upcoming nuptials. When her turn in line came and the clerk asked her what she needed, Mom said "Forever stamps. I'd like about 400, please." The man looked under the counter and said he'd have to go get some more from the back. After a short delay, he comes back with a bag and says that he only has 180, if that would do. Thinking that that would at least get us through the invitations and response cards, Mom said that would be fine, and handed him her credit card, took the bag and left.

It wasn't until she was halfway home that she realized that the $1476 tab was awful high for 180 $0.41 stamps, and when she got home and looked in the bag, she realized why. She had just purchased 180 BOOKS of stamps.

We had more than enough stamps for my wedding, and she's supplied them to a few of my friends for their weddings. Her response to any teasing is that at least that mistake investment is beating the stock market over the same period, and she'll always need stamps.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | July 6, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I just exchanged emails with a friend/colleague of mine in Amsterdam. He's turning 50 (finally!) in about a month, and I told him that the win today was only *part* of his birthday present. He mailed back that complete revenge (on so many levels) would be Netherlands beating Germany. That will depend, of course, on the outcome of the next semi-final game.

Too hot to think, even inside in the A/C. I shall emerge in, perhaps, November. . . .

Posted by: -ftb- | July 6, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Ha, MoftheMountain! Stamp hoarders!

Posted by: seasea1 | July 6, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Who has today's bear update?

Posted by: seasea1 | July 6, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

seasea, I had the opposite problem with Forever stamps a few months ago. I went to the Post Office after the counter had closed. The vending machine they had didn't sell single stamps, so I had to buy about 20 Forever stamps. I was ticked off, but I won't have to buy stamps until late in the fall. Maybe not until next year.

Not quite the same situation that MoftheMountain's mom. 180 books of stamps is an astonishing number!

Posted by: -pj- | July 6, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

MoftheMountain, best laugh of the day, and I needed one! Our little rural post office is chronically out of any specialty stamps. Standard issue Old Glories for us.

Posted by: talitha1 | July 6, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

If the electric utility is receiving information back from the consumer via fiber-optic cable, doesn't that mean the utility is also putting cable into the house?

Can they also sell other services via that cable? I can see bundling my electric bill with my Internet, for example.

Posted by: -TBG- | July 6, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Happy to provide a laugh. I can't believe she didn't return some of them, but she figured it was a sure return on investment. My mother to a T (tee? tea?).

I believe she bought them from a fairly major post office, too, so she's lucky they didn't have all 400. lol.

My sister and I swear we're going to buy her a fire-proof safe one of these days to keep her investment in.

Toodles, all! It's quittin' time.

Posted by: MoftheMountain | July 6, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Bear update? The wrench is dead. I talked to one of the game warden team who shot the sow last weekend and she sure looks like my marauding bear. Good riddance.
It's a bad case of calling your dog rabid to shoot her but there you go. She used a schoolyard to travel around a busy corner and this was her fatal mistake. The wardens were getting tired of the complaints, obviously.

Gawd it's hot.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 6, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Here's yesterday's bear update. Today's probably won't be available until 2100CDT or so.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 6, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Is there a visual equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and chanting "la, la, la, la?" If there is, that's how I'll deal with the demise of shriek's bird feeder destroying bruin. May she RIP.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 6, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

I hate that you can't buy Forever stamps on rolls. They make them worth buying, but inconvenient to use.

Posted by: -TBG- | July 6, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

So much cool stuff about the article and comments. Awal making important remarks, RD on power factor, baldinho's questions, and more. Joel's interest in DC transmission is interesting. Impedance is the problem and DC beats it. Maybe DC can go underground, without impedance, although as shrink says, heat is still a consideration.

Power factor is often treated by running motors with no load. This is the point beyond which I am lost, but if somehow this could be incorporated into flywheels, then problems mentioned by RD (better batteries & power factor) might combine into a single solution.

Boo on Xcel Energy, Awal.

baldinho, someone picked 40 miles as optimum range on some of our current electric car production for probably a good reason. Battery weight. I think it would take more than a rooftop for a regular 40 mi./day run.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 6, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah... my new favorite expression is going to be: "I'm such a kludge!"

Posted by: -TBG- | July 6, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Jumper - there are kinetic storage systems based on high-velocity flywheels. The design is similar to high speed centrifuges. And you can store a lot of energy this way. The problem is that these things are intrinsically unstable - especially when they are being spun up or spun down. One small imperfection and it all goes big-time kafluey. Which means that they have to be made with great precision, which is pricey.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 6, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

I believe big-time kafluey is available as a boodle handle.

Came home early, watered the tomatoes, herbs and flowers. My sensible side wants to go to bed now because of the 3:15 AM alarm. But who listens to her?

And, noooooooo! Internet sales tax pushed by a Democrat.

Posted by: -dbG- | July 6, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

I went swimming late this afternoon. The middle school swim team had just finished practice. Overheard in the locker room as I was changing:

Girl 1: Everybody, look at my cute bra!

Girls 2, 3, 4: Oh, yeah, that is cute!

Girl 5: Hey, I have one just like that, except fluorescent blue!

Girl 1: I used to be flat as a cake.
Girl 2: That's a compliment to the cake.

(I can't claim to understand this one.)

Hey, we're learning this song, *sings*. It's in foreign. It's not our language.


Girl 1: C'mon, hurry up, my mom said no primping, and you're primping!

Girl 2: What's primping?

Posted by: -bia- | July 6, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

I know it seems harch frosbitten but the sow has taken really bad habits. She was shot close enough that both officers shot her, with a 12 ga slug and a .308 Win bullet. She didn't go 10 feet as as was told. All those game wardens are experienced hunters; they know where the heart is.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 6, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

102? It was 104 degrees according to our car's thermostat right after we left the restaurant today. That is inhuman, especially as the offical air reading is supposed to be 95.
We either need white asphalt or figure out how to utilize our streets as heat to energy pumps.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 6, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

shriek-I understand, and sympathize. Still...

Isn't white asphalt something Sec'y of Energy Chu proposed last year?

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 6, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Now you mention it Frosti, I googled it and found Chu mentioned it on the Stewart Show.

I'm glad to know this Cabinet has been picked for some science savvy. No Brownies here.

However, a roofer complains that asphalt can't be painted and there are other ways to save on heating/cooling costs without promoting global warming.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 6, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, you're the best.

Posted by: -dbG- | July 6, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

This is not for you!
This is not for you!
Ohhhhnooooooo not for you!

guitar psychedelia bridge


Not one but two friends announce their divorces today. Kids involved, the full catastrophe. These are sports buddies, but I have known them for many years. One is super private, the other "wants my help" it is so sad.

I have known both of these marriages since they began and begat and one is a surprise the other is not, but it still just makes me mad: the kids. No one can help themselves and so on. Human condition and so on. So now I will compose myself and return calls. Sorry for the interruption.
Wishing love saves everybody,

Posted by: shrink2 | July 6, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, this article explains (at least here) why it seems warmer than the official temp. Where I live the official temp in on a pier by the lake, and although I am about a mile from the lake the difference can be considerable, depending on wind direction and water temp.

Posted by: dmd3 | July 6, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

What a mess, shrink! It's sad to see a marriage that you've known from the beginning go bad. Worse when you've known both parties.

Kids, of course, can multiply the complexities exponentially. Yuck.

Posted by: -pj- | July 6, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Rainforest, thanks for the info, I had read it was a cultural thing, sort of when one did not want to say "no".

Posted by: -CB- | July 6, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Centrifuges! That's my cue to come in, having spent my day hooked up to a blood centrifuge in the act of donating peripheral blood stem cells for a person with leukemia. Sooo glad it's done and I don't have to face any more needles for a while!

The Geekdottir was my guardian angel, she did all the driving and scratched my nose when it itched, fed me, etc.

I have been on the bone marrow donation registry for twenty years and this was the first time I have been matched. He has leukemia and gets the product tomorrow. I solicit good thoughts and prayers that it will work for him. I thought the product looked gross, but the nurses liked it.

I am tired, as they said I would be, but I feel much better now that the drug to produce the stem cells is working itself out of my system. I think I'll go to bed shortly. It's been a long day, and one of the side effects of the drug was insomnia so I haven't slept well in several nights.

G'night all.

Posted by: slyness | July 6, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

-pj- Thank you and that is exactly right. Everyone knows divorce, but from top dead center, when it was all "The One", they have great kids, well I realize this board is not my therapist and you know I don't come to you for help, even though if I needed to, I would bet you could somehow.
You just seem like a ready room full of really smart, experienced people from everywhere and that is not 'just' anything. Beers, bears, friends who are suddenly in for more trouble than they can conceive, heat, cold, you are a crew that can move...dreading the call to the guy who said, "he knows he can depend on me." Oh well, that is life. Gotta make that call.

Posted by: shrink2 | July 6, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

My one run-in with flywheels is a memory I have from college as we were "designing" a solar field to power some mid-sized city or somethingorother. The instructor mentioned that we could size the array based on 80 or 90 percent efficiency... since we were going to use flywheels to store the energy.

It all seemed very pie in the sky then. Are flywheels actually in use that are that efficient?

That was about 22 or so years ago. I don't know if I have heard flywheels mentioned much since then.... though I don't read lots of solar industry journals.

Posted by: baldinho1 | July 6, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Whew, no answer, so where were we. Flywheels.
I like the mountain farts better. A deep water thermal storage device would be better still. More wires, the grid, is old technology. Local generation and storage will rule the world.

Posted by: shrink2 | July 6, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Slyness, thank you for doing that. A friend of ours was just diagnosed with lukemia last week. No idea if this treatment is/could be/will be offered for him, but how wonderful to think someone might make his life easier, as you just did for someone else.

Posted by: nellie4 | July 6, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

SCC: leukemia

Posted by: nellie4 | July 6, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

slyness, if life/death is the problem,
you are the solution. nellie is right, my little sister married a man 2 decades ago from a marrow transplant success; she met him on the same ward where her husband (he played some of the TV advert doctors you might have seen in the sixties and seventies) had died.

We are going to OMSI with their great little kids, their spawn next week. I thought she was insane when she married a guy who was a survivor of the disease that killed her ex, but now that it worked, so far, it all seems obvious and when I am wrong, I am glad I am wrong. There are many ways to love.

Posted by: shrink2 | July 6, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse

shrink... nice that you punctuated the divorce story with a love story.

Sorry to hear about your friends' breakups. We are a group you can come to for help. Both virtual and real. We've done both. The healing powers of a boodle hug are well known.

Posted by: -TBG- | July 6, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

A walkoff homer for the Nats tonight. Most excellent to the Nats fans here. You guys gotta get Zimmerman back on track. Tonight will help with that.

Posted by: baldinho1 | July 6, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

What I need in the electric car that I would buy is a battery that can be readily changed out. It has to weight something south of 40 lbs. I need to be able to charge the aforementioned 6 or so batteries with my stand-alone solar setup and have them ready to swap in and out of my car.

I charge 6 batteries, each with maybe 40 miles of go. I pop one in for the 20 mile commute to work. I store 2 more. One for the ride home. One just in case. If I get home I have 3 more ready to go. I plug the 3 I took with me to work back in, etc.

The day/night charging thing would be tricky, so I might need the ability to plug the charger in to a conventional source if my needs are too much for the solar generator.

I read recently that people envision a nationwide network of battery changing/charging stations similar in design. You drive 40 or 50 or 80 miles or whatever then pull into a charging/changing station. You offload the dead battery, plug it in and take a charged battery. You pay a fee to do so that is less than the equivalent gasoline.

My setup would restrict me to a 50 or so mile radius from my house. That doesn't bother me, as I would likely have a second car that is a traditional gasoline car anyway.

Posted by: baldinho1 | July 6, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

-TBG- thank you sincerely. I could tell you fun, real love stories all day, I collect them, my religion, bore you to tears. I am sorry it is the death of love I dumped here, I shouldn't; it bespeaks death itself and...again thank you.

On the electricity topic, now that I am composed and defended: any piece using the word Grid should develop the idea, sending energy over long distances through wires is wrong. It has to be seen as a necessary evil, like burning fossils.

Posted by: shrink2 | July 6, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Yes, shrink. Boodle partners can scratch each others noses literally and figuratively and as family and not as family. There are many, many options here.

Sleep well, slyness.

I'm off to bed.

Posted by: -pj- | July 6, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

On the electric car topic - they used flywheel storage (KERS, or Kinetic Energy Recovery System) in McLaren and Ferrari Formula 1 race cars last year as an experiment in electrical suppliment to gasoline engines. Any team was allowed to use it, but only the two raced working versions of it, if memory serves.

IIRC there was a two-step system featuring batteries and regenerative braking systems to keep the flwheels spun up, and electric motors to suppliment the rear wheel drive (though they could have just as well applied it to all 4 tires, I suppose). To RD's points, there were some downsides to the systems, one of which was the dangers of high-speed flywheel storage, should things go cattywumpus (they never did in that respect) and the drivers having to learn to get themselves out of cars without making accidental paths to ground in the event that the high-capacity electrical systems find a path to the chassis. Completing that circuit to ground in those crates theoretically had enough juice to kill muy pronto, though no one tested that theory, thank goodness. Its use was suspended for this year due to some other rules changes (such as banning refueling during the race), though the FIA says they will allow for newer versions of KERS next season, and may mandate it for 2012.

Not saying those guys have all the answers, but this may be another crucible (and a lot of money) to speed up development of such technologies.

I hope that fan who fell from the second deck in Texas - and those underneath him - recover soon ... I'll be thinking about those folks, and some of my fellow Boodlers here tonight.


Posted by: -bc- | July 6, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

Aristotle wrote:

Tragedy, the first form of drama, was brought to the stage as a means of reminding men of the things which happen to them, that according to the nature for which things to happen so. And so if you are delighted* with what takes place on the stage, you should not be troubled with what takes place on the larger stage.

Gotta check the translation here. Surely he did not mean Shadenfreude = Catharsis.

Posted by: shrink2 | July 6, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse

SCC to the nature for things to happen so

Posted by: shrink2 | July 6, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Oh terrific! Not only do I keep getting an unremovable FB invitation on Safari, but my kitchen is being inundated by somebody's plumbing problems on one of the three other floors above me. Water is coursing down the vent (very dirty water, I might add) onto my countertop, and water is coming into the cabinet under the sink. And now it's on the floor. Yes, I've called the emergency number. God knows when anybody is gonna come over. So much for a (needed) and quiet night's sleep. . .

Thanks for letting me vent. The only good news is that the Tigers beat the Os again.


Posted by: -ftb1- | July 6, 2010 11:33 PM | Report abuse

If memory serves? Mine's somewhere between fix-it-yourself and a buffet.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 6, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

It was on the third floor, where the water has been turned off. The poor dear who lives above me is inundated much more than I am (and she has to be in her 90s). I'm gonna go to bed and in the morning beg my cleaning people to try to get over here to clean the kitchen again (they were here last week). I just know that if I get down on the floor (willingly) I'll *never* be able to get up again.

I wonder what I'll be dreaming about tonight (if I ever fall asleep). Cya "tomorrow".

Posted by: -ftb1- | July 7, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Funny, LiT.

My memory service is pretty much a wobbly, ill-equipped Lazy Susan. Keeps getting stuck in the same spots, too.


Posted by: -bc- | July 7, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Shrink, I got a similar double-whammy last year. One had been married about half my life, and I knew them from day zero, one before that.

Oh well. Yesterday was yesterday; today is today. Pain may not always kill love before its time, but it's what drives people apart.

That aside, true stories about love are the best, if often the strangest. My parents met, got engaged in three days, and have been married 45 years.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 7, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

baldinho1 - Nothing to it, as long as you can eschew the usual addiction to improperly-short following distances and unnecessary acceleration. Unfortunately, the driving habits of those around you will tend to affect that.

Quite simply, most non-commercial-haul drivers could get around fine with petroleum-based engines getting nearly quadruple current mileage rates if they had better driving habits.

You could get around fine with a slow, heavy electric car charged by a combination of your own solar cells, small wind turby, and a primitive fuel cell, if you were willing to adopt the same (slow-but-steady) driving habits.

In case you were wondering, this is all going to happen eventually. It's just a matter of waiting until it's very obvious that it's cheaper to do it the right way than it is to do it the faster way. At the moment, it's not yet obvious to enough people. So be it. The change of commuters' mind-set is slow, but the decrease in the availability of cheap energy-dense carbon fuels is patient.

And that hydrogen storage thing that "they" keep saying isn't practical? That's also on the way.

Posted by: Bob-S | July 7, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

Shrink, I took theatre history, and my professor explained that the Greeks believed that even the Gods were bound by fate.

They also tended to understand insanity and crime as caused by blood curses-- that an ancestor had offended the gods by committing sacrilege and brought down a curse on their descendants.

So, when you watch the Oresteid, it matters that Agamemnon is descended from Pelops, the son killed by Tantalus and served to the gods as a feast. Pelops was returned to life and became a king and had many children. King Atreus was one son, and he and his brother were banished after they murdered their half-brother, a favorite of Pelops.
King Atreus was Agamemnon's father, and Agamemnon himself sacrified his daughter Iphigenia, not just to mollify the gods and for political purposes-- but he himself insisted on doing the actual murder.

So, this house was sick and twisted, and incidentally ruled city-states that were foes of Athens. Orestes was handled an impossible moral dilemna-- avenge his father only by the blood-crime of killing his mum. He was damned if he did, damned if he didn't. He is driven mad by the furies. The end solution, given by the gods, is to have the state administer justice, rather than depending on blood feud or DIY justice which could lead to unspeakable crimes that could twist and haunt a family forever.

It was also a trumpet for Athenian democratic rule over these corrupt dynasties, too.

So schaudenfreude, no. Just plain old-fashioned monster stories-- monsters with the faces of people, and how other people can carry pain and twists that they never asked for, except by being born to the wrong family. The release comes in seeing atonement with the gods for the wrongs done by their ancestors, seeking balance somehow. Sometimes that is simply not possible, and they suffer until the Gods step in and give them a second chance somehow-- restore the dead son, try Orestes and pardon them.

Medea, my teacher said, is an example of the monstrous women; dominant, powerful, full of warrior-passion, and dangerous. Yet she is given realistic motives for being hurt and ready to seek revenge for adultery. The difference is not in how she feels, but what she does about it. She kills their children just to hurt him. She can't think about anybody but herself; after all she betrayed her father killed her own brother to run off with Jason. That's kind of a warning sign there, but Jason was happy to use her as long as her obsession benefitted his own agenda.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 7, 2010 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Flywheels are used for Uninterrupted Power Service to ride out power blips. But they are much more expensive that batteries and don't last nearly as long. The efficiencies can approach 97%.

Phase correction is more commonly done now adays with solid state electronics. That pure sinusoid get abused so many ways. lately.

Posted by: yellojkt | July 7, 2010 1:35 AM | Report abuse

I live in an area where even with an antennae I can't receive more than 1 miserable TV channel which has nothing to watch. I’m guessing it’s the huge power station and large power lines all inside the 1 mile radius of my house.

Posted by: rainforest1 | July 7, 2010 2:06 AM | Report abuse

Hah! Rainforest. The wireless network that I own and administer knocks me off about 7 times every day when, I can only guess, an immediate neighbour in the condo complex uses his or her microwave. It ticks me off.

And don't even get me started on the risk of tumors from cell-phone use :-)

Posted by: Yoki | July 7, 2010 2:15 AM | Report abuse

CB, I’m not aware of belum having a different meaning. The general public in Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore use it as what it means.

Shrink, sorry to hear about your friends’ divorces. I often wonder about people in the mental health profession, they see sad people and listen to their problems day in day out, if they need to clear their minds, would they in turn go lie down on their fellow shrink’s couch? You don’t have to answer that if you don’t want to.

Slyness, I admire your courage and selflessness.

Posted by: rainforest1 | July 7, 2010 2:22 AM | Report abuse

I would take that further, actually. If shrink2 deals with the criminally-irresponsible-for-their-own-mental-health (note the sensitivity to language!!!), day in and day out, does that affect his relations with those of us in the daylight?

Posted by: Yoki | July 7, 2010 2:27 AM | Report abuse

Yoki : And don't even get me started on the risk of tumors from cell-phone use :-)

Hear that Scotty?


Posted by: rainforest1 | July 7, 2010 2:32 AM | Report abuse

I trust that Scottynuke and the Boodle-scientists know I am poking fun at people who think that cell-phones cause brain tumours, and that vaccinations cause everything from ADHD to Autism-spectrum disorders.

Posted by: Yoki | July 7, 2010 2:51 AM | Report abuse

The Independent Climate Change Email Review will release its report at 1 pm British time.

I doubt it'll be anything exciting.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 7, 2010 3:58 AM | Report abuse

If only Kim Dynasty in North Korea would start emulating those ancient Greek monsters, clearing the way for a citizen-based government. The New Yorker has a depressing story on the country this week, from the author of a recent book, "Nothing to Envy."

New Scientist has run an editorial titled "Stop uncontrolled experiments on autistic children". The local independent bookstore (we actually have one) is featuring the latest book proving that vaccines cause autism. I should write one proving that ice cream cures cancer.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 7, 2010 4:15 AM | Report abuse

One of the radio stations here has breakfast with the Beatles every morning at 7:15, 3 different songs daily introduced with the phrase, "I'm serving breakfast."

I'll serve breakfast before I go back to bed. My grandmother's Dutch cake (a sweet bread) with assorted homemade jams, omlettes with your choice of fillings: Turkey sausage, green peppers, havarti or Irish cheddar, onions, mushrooms, herbs fresh from the garden. Peach/mango juice, Kona and/or Earl Grey. Greek Yogurt. (I actually just had the last 2 myself).

shrink, we talk about everything, happy, sad, vulnerable. Thanks for sharing that with us.

You all be careful out there today.

Posted by: -dbG- | July 7, 2010 5:34 AM | Report abuse

Oh, just stack the plates in the sink. I'll get them later.

Posted by: -dbG- | July 7, 2010 5:36 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Barely 06:00 and it's hot already. We'll have to throw the VLP in the pool again. That was fun.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 7, 2010 6:06 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and MsJS, I'm well aware that Fresh Air is a taped broadcast (Joel's first sentence here states that clearly, too) -- that 8 sec. delay bit was a bit of a joke.

See below for some some previous Achenradio...

Always meant to update that bit with RD's call-in to the show with a Mr. Stripey update. Priceless.


Posted by: -bc- | July 7, 2010 6:18 AM | Report abuse

Naw - that weren't me who called in bc. That was yello.

And there's some interesting info about electrical cars here:

Looks cool if you can get past the initial cost.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | July 7, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm? What? Can't hear you, I've got a cell phone duct-taped to my ear. :-)

*yes-I'm-back-in-the-office-consarnitall-and-it'll-be-a-challenge-finding-a-way-to-watch-the-Germany-Spain-match-but-I'll-manage Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | July 7, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Up again.

I'm offering Bellinis all around to toast Geek'd, who has been there for Slyness, who has been there for a stranger in need.

Posted by: -dbG- | July 7, 2010 7:32 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, bless you and prayers to the recipient.

Rainforest, yes, I was wondering how it was really used there and I knew you would know, thanks again.

Posted by: -CB- | July 7, 2010 7:39 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all. Thank you all for your kind words. I know for a certainty that any one of you would do the same, so there is no need to gush over me!

I slept very well and feel much better, although still a little tired. This too will pass. On the agenda for today is a visit to a hospitalized friend who will get a diagnosis Friday, probably lymphoma. I wish I could help him.

Shrink, as one who has been through a divorce, I can say it's tough to watch and experience. In my case, it was absolutely the right thing to do, for me, for him, for our children. That doesn't make the experience easier, however.

My friend who is ill went through a messy divorce about 15 years ago. Concurrently, another friend I'd grown up with also split with her husband. The two of them got together and have been happily married for 13 years. I hope the best for him, he's too young to leave us.

When we were at the big fire trade show, Smart was exhibiting an all-electric FourTwo. I could happily use that car around town, it wouldn't do for driving on the road. I am looking forward to the new technology.

Good morning, Cassandra! I hope you are feeling well today? How is the expectant mother doing?

Posted by: slyness | July 7, 2010 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: -shiloh- | July 7, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

rainforest you are correct, my wife speaks Malay and she says 'belum" to me and the kids all the time, it just means soon, not a polite cover for never.

W_G that makes sense and gives some dimension to what has been referred to as catharsis as something other than the maudlin, or the sadistic re-traumatization of abreaction. Thank you for taking the time on that piece, interesting. Going to think on that and get back to you, someday.

If you want to know what happens to mental health professional after being pain sponges for a few decades, lets put it this way, I have a lot of friends and none of them are mental health professionals, not one. They tend to get really cranky as they age, crazy, alcoholic, depressed, all of the above. The answer is always the same love and diversify. slyness, therein lies all the difference, would do and actually doing.

Posted by: shrink2 | July 7, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

"But the first thing a smart grid will do, if we let it, is turn us into savvier consumers of electricity. We'll become aware of how much we're consuming and cut back, especially at moments of peak demand, when electricity costs most to produce."

I think that should be "more to purchase."

Posted by: Boomslang | July 7, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be great if there were no practical difference between saying costs more to produce and costs more to purchase?
That would mean there would be no profiteering/gouging in the supply demand relationship.

Posted by: shrink2 | July 7, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins, fruit bowl, coffee and OJ on the table.

My apologies, bc. My joke-o-meter has been on the fritz lately.

My $0.01 on divorce. My 'rents never did figure out how to be married to each other and my siblings and I kept crossing our fingers with every major blow-up hoping it would be the one that would end the marriage for good. When they finally split (I was 17), we were relieved to be able to breathe.

My point is not to get concerned just because kids are involved. There are lots of dynamics involved and the kids may not always readily voice all of their feelings on the subject, especially to other adults.

[Sidebar: one 'rent has passed away, but the other has been happily married for over 30 years to someone else. Divorce is obviously a closing of at least one door, but can open so many others.]

Much to do today. Bro#1 wants my help in creating an elegant, thoughtful gift for his wife's birthday this weekend. The idea is all his, but he lacks the techy skills to pull it off and that's where I come in.

Going to be about 33 in TWC today. Doing all errands this morning before the major heat kicks in.

Stay cool!

Posted by: MsJS | July 7, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Peak power could be more expensive to produce, our usual hydroelectric power is supported by a thermal plant at peak times for exemple. Thermal plants may have to be pushed outside their optimum cost operational parameters in favour of additional power.

slyness, Mr. T may get a chuckle out of that. Basement Saviours saved the kegs... for consumption at the firehall.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | July 7, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I trust that shrink2 will manage to be a nice person in later life.

The University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit email report has a few modest concerns about the unit's defensiveness and unhelpfulness with reasonable freedom of information requests, nothing big. A previous investigation cleared the unit's science.

I was surprised at the small size of the unit, about 16 staff, mostly grad students and post-docs. Definitely not Big Science. Not even medium-sized.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 7, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Hey, how about electric planes?


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 7, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for vindicating my wacky flywheel idea, Shiloh.

I keep a thermometer in my truck dash vent and it routinely gets to 120 F., usually when parked but on some days even with the windows down the cab stays 110. That is the very worst, however, usually the cab will cool 80 - 90 even on hot days.

There are solar powered exhaust fans for cars; also often sold to boat owners. Keeps the air exhausted when parked in the sun.

I'd like to see half the asphalt in the U.S. shaded by photovoltaic panels. And some building roofs also.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 7, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

If modern man wars over oil/gas, water and god(s), how long until wind gets added to the list? Will taking a hill have new meaning?

In another section of my brain, supposing I knew what it costs to run certain things at certain times, could I then use electricity as a form of currency (currentsy?) and pay a portion of allowances in megowatt-hours? Maybe put a charge card into a Christmas stocking? I'm thinking I could pass along this 'savvy consumer' thing more effectively than repeating over and over to turn off the tv/radio/computer when no one is using it, it costs money and money doesn't grow on trees.

Have a happy day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | July 7, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Photovoltaic awnings over the streets? Sounds cool. I guess if there's a way to roll them up for snow and hurricanes.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | July 7, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Regarding the differences between DC and AC power transmission, what DC transmission has in its favor is the elimination of "skin effect." Skin effect is caused by the expanding and contracting electromagnetic flux (ha!) in the conductor forcing the electrons to the outside or skin of the conductor. This only happens during AC transmission. By forcing the electrons to the skin of the conductor, the conductor's cross-section electrically decreases, the resistance (not the impedance) is increased, and the conductor heats up, causing a loss.

Impedance, in and of itself, is loss-less. Impedance is a result of the inductive and capacitive elements (called reactance) of the conductor. The reactive elements of a large,(nearly) straight transmission line is really, really small. Any loss attributed to these elements is due to resistive heating of the conductors.

Skin effect increases with an increase in the frequency. This is why some RF conductors are silver-plated (silver is a better conductor than copper) or even hollow, as little current flows in the center of the conductor.

The skin effect IS very small at 60Hz but much larger than reactive losses. The total heat loss due to skin effect at multi-megawatt transmission levels is considerable. DC transmission allows smaller conductors or higher power levels because it can use all of the conductor.


Posted by: DLDx | July 7, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

"My point is not to get concerned just because kids are involved."

Oh, I'm not saying divorce shouldn't happen. I am saying kids get hurt badly, whether or not they feel better after it is (nominally) over.

Herman Hesse, "Love isn't there to make us happy. I believe it exists to show us how much we can endure."

Hesse did not say, "I trust that shrink2 will manage to be a nice person in later life." But Dave, that is the nicest thing anyone has said to me this morning and I think you kindly. *perky smiling*

Posted by: shrink2 | July 7, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

DLD, I know a Swiss engineer/operator who was sold (indentured?) along with his company's inversion installation at The Dalles dam on the Columbia. He says about half of the power produced by the dams is lost to heat by the time it reaches our appliances. It seems like a crazy high percentage. Do you think/know whether this is true? If it is, it seems like something Joel might have wanted to feature with this grid kit.

Posted by: shrink2 | July 7, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Even a happy childhood holds some hurt. I think usually enough to aid us in screwing up our own kids, at least a little bit.

Getting off to a late start Chez Frostbitten, self diagnosing a bout of blah. Our local Boys and Girls Club, which leases space from the nonprofit we founded 4 years ago, was broken into over the weekend. Some vandalism, a few relatively inexpensive items stolen, and lots of food meant for daily snack gone. The items that teens value most were untouched, like the big flat screen TV. This leads us to believe it is the third case of some of the same kids we see every day doing the damage. Listened to Speaking of Faith on Sunday and was struck by a monk who said the difference between what he and his fellows do and the usual social justice types (me I guess) is that SJers burn out. Faith gets people through. Prescient that, perhaps.

Ah well, as they say up here "could be worse."

slyness-in complete awe of your generosity. Still waiting for my call from the registry, but it's good to know a 6 year wait is nothing!

Toodles boodle. Back after I get to the appropriate point on my "to do" list. Boodle as reward for work, better than $ some days.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | July 7, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Hmmmmmm... Just looked at the interactive map associated with JA's article.

Let's just say I have a markedly different view about the map's depiction of proposed power plants of a particular type.


Posted by: Scottynuke | July 7, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I THINK the lost heat is almost all in the transformers near the source and also near the final destination (such as the ones on the telephone poles or hidden under the plastic rocks). And includes transformers inside the home and office, and loss in heat from consumer electric motors and such. A TV puts out visible light of the picture (not much), and audio, and waste heat, for example.

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 7, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

The original Best of Wikipedia - not mine - is back up and running and leading me to delightful articles and further.

For example, I found this

a "tall tale creature gallery."

Posted by: Jumper1 | July 7, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Shrink, my teacher was big on deconstructionist history-- teaching us to think about the places, times, and cultural meanings of plays at their moment of first staging. One of my favorite "literature" classes ever.

There's a reason why Greek plays in all their danced, sung, and privately bankrolled glory were part of religious festivals.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | July 7, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: Raysmom | July 7, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I found this by Googling on the words pity fear catharsis

7. Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation [catharsis] of these emotions. By 'language embellished,' I mean language into which rhythm, 'harmony' and song enter. . . .

(Aristotle, Poetics, 1449b25f if you want to look up the Greek on the Perseus site.)

Posted by: woofin | July 7, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Shrink - I don't have those figures in front of me but that information may be available on the internet. The loss figure depends on where you start your measurement. If your friend is starting with the POTENTIAL power that is in the weight of the water in the dam and figure in the losses in the turbines that run the primary DC generators, the losses in the motor-generator set (or electronic inverter) that turns the DC into AC, losses in transformers and transmission lines, then yes, I could see close to a total 50% power loss, maybe more.

If you are measuring the loss from the output of the AC generator to the home (ie transmission loss) then I think you are looking at about 10%. But that is a WAG, again I don't have the figures in front of me.

The main loss would be in the turbines running the DC generators. I would think at best that they could extract only 65%-75% of the potential from the weight of the water flowing through them.

As I said though, your friend would have to clarify where his starting and ending measurements were taken from.

So, you are thinking, why bother with a 3% improvement in the efficiency of the transmission lines? The answer of course lies in the miles and miles and tons and tons of copper required to get the power from one place to another. Not to mention towers, land leasing/purchases, maintenance, on and on.


Posted by: DLDx | July 7, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company