Geothermal Energy 2

A great peculiarity is that radioactive decay seems utterly immune to influence. High magnetic fields, electric fields, movement, and spin don’t seem to change the rates of radioactive decay at all. Nothing does. Particle interactions, including some really high energy photons, can cause a radioactive particle to decay differently right now but that’s usually a different decay. There doesn’t seem to be any particular way of changing the halflife of some whatever.

In numbers, the halflife of U238 is 4.468 billion years. If one sample of U238 has a hundred nuclei, in 4.468 by that sample will have fifty nuclei. We can’t change that without seriously altering the decay path. If an experimentalist whacked those one hundred nuclei with high energy neutrons, one could get some other decay path and decay reaction, meaning in far less than 4.468 by the sample would have only fifty or less nuclei. But the natural decay path is more or less immutable. Exposing the sample to a high magnetic field doesn’t change it. Putting the sample in zero g doesn’t change it. Putting it at the center of the Earth doesn’t change it. Whacking the sample with high energy neutrons doesn’t change the characteristics of the existing natural decay path (ie decay reaction); whacking the sample with neutrons may shift the decay reaction to something else. So instead of decaying into Thorium 234, we could smack it until it decays into something else.

So what does this mean?

It means the radioactive elements in the Earth’s core are naturally decaying in some fashion, releasing heat at some fixed rate, and there’s not much we can do to change that. This energy and the process of harnessing it are both called geothermal energy, sort of like how football is the game, the physical ball, and the activity.

So how good an idea is taking this fixed supply of energy for our purposes?

There’s a finite amount of sunlight that hits the Earth, right about 1300w/m^2 at the top of the atmosphere, and about 1kw/m^2 at the surface of the Earth. It’s coming whether we use it or not. Solar and wind are both fundamentally solar energy, as wind is caused by temperature differentials in the air, caused by sunlight hitting the heterogeneous Earth.

There is no consequence on the Sun by us harnessing solar energy. It’s close to free. To be more accurate, the energy is free; building stuff to harness the energy has costs, and so when we talk about the cost of solar energy, we talk about the costs of building the stuff. And maintaining the stuff. And hiring someone to go out to the solar panel farm to clean away the bird crap, pull the squirrel nests out of the wiring box, replace the wiring the squirrels ate, and replace the broken solar panels, etc.

If we take energy out of the Earth, would we be cooling the Earth? Is it radiant free like sunlight, or could we cause serious negative consequences? What happens to plate tectonics if we cool some part of the crust by 200k in a localized area?

Probably nothing, but that same probably nothing that people thought about greenhouse gases.

Remember the source of the energy, radiant heat from radioactive decay, is (as far as we can tell, but I find this kinda sus) utterly invariant.

Logistics Map

Want to see something weird?

The Logistics Map is the iterative function: xn+1 = a*xn*(1-xn) where xn is some number between zero and 1, non-inclusive, alpha is a number between zero and 4, and xn+1 is the number you get when you do the math on xn.

So pick an x value arbitrarily: 0.6. x1 = 0.6

Pick alpha arbitrarily: 3.56995. alpha = 3.56995.

x2 = 3.56995 *0.6 * (1-0.6) =3.56995*0.6*0.4= 0.854388

That’s xn+1. xn in this case is x1. Think of xn+1 as being the next x. So you have a first x, 0.6, and the next x is 0.854388, and the next x is 0.438041158193768.

I picked the alpha because the numbers are highly chaotic and don’t go outside (0,1). The parenthesis means 0 and 1 are not included.

Then, for funsies, I bin the leading digits. So x1 is 6, x2 is 8, x3 is 4, etc. Zeros are never leading digits, so if a number was 0.0002, the leading digit would be 2. For extra funsies, I do the same for the first two digits below. (The images are named after the number of times I go through the function, so they’re 10s +1)

This is the plot of the first 11 values:

Okay, so what?

This is the first 101 values:

This is the first 10,001:

The shape doesn’t change. Oh, it squiggles a little. Here’s the first 4:

Other than resolution improvements, the shape remains basically the same for the leading digit graph. Does it do that for the double leading digit graph?

Christmas Day, 2020

So Christmas without the family was a little rough this year. Global pandemic, et al., so I’m not travelling, am wearing masks and washing my hands until they blister, but Christmas alone was difficult. I had Thanksgiving alone, but that was to be expected. Due to scheduling, it was always going to be a challenge to get home. I had been holding out hope for this one and New Years, but ah well.

I’m not being as productive as I’d thought, but I am looking at lots of pictures of motorcycles I don’t intend to buy. That’s basically the same, right?

Mara and the Trolls is going to be free on Kindle the 31st of December through Jan 2nd. Read up. Nile won’t let me advertise the sale, which is weird, but Nile is kinda weird to begin with. They’re staying on brand, I guess.

Mara is just fun. It’s meant to be read to children, but the way I write, I effectively read it to myself. It’s not high drama. I didn’t write it to express the nature of the human condition. It’s just fun, things are going to be alright, and in the end, it’s very childish.

Feeling good, which might not come through this post but I am. The vaccine makers did the impossible to get it done soon. I’m optimistic they succeeded. Things could have been better, but they could have been a lot worse. Life is like that.

I have a friend who’s always looking at new guitars. He doesn’t need one, but he looks. I do the same thing with motorcycles. I just look. Ducati xDaivel or Triumph Rocket 3, if my fairy godmother is reading. A Polaris Slingshot would also be delightful. I haven’t thought about them much, but the more I do, the more I like them. They’re weird, difficult, intense little machines, and those are my boxes. I wonder how waterproof they are.

They’ve got no roof. Sooner or later, you will get caught in a downpour. How do the speakers do, the dash, the infotainment, the wiring? It’s going to happen. Do the seats turn mildewy? Does the upholstery change colors? Does it stink after a few rains?

It’s early, and I might still fall into productivity if I throw myself down a hole in my word processor a few times. The lab is open tomorrow, and I’ve got building to do.

Take care everyone. I’m rooting for you.

And Merry Christmas.

Breaking 2024

It looks like break dancing is going to be part of the next summer Olympics. I don’t watch or follow it, but it seems like it could be interesting.

The Olympics needs something interesting. They’re running a bit behind, and this might freshen things up.

Room Temperature Superconductors

I missed this. Someone says they made a room temp. SC and published it in Nature. The first link is a lot more readable, and the doing of the thing is more chemistry than EE.

A SC is something that conducts without resistance, but that causes a host of other issues. This one doesn’t look usable in and of itself, yet, as it’s super tiny under about two million times normal air pressure. But it worked at around 58.F, which is amazing. What’s important is that the pressure and size may merely be engineering problems, and where there’s a lot of dollars, there’s a way.

Maybe not. There could be some other limits involved. But it’s still pretty interesting.

Edit: I left unsaid, but perhaps should have said, I haven’t seen anyone duplicate this work yet. Repeatability is the trick. So caveats and ifs and conditionals, oh my. I’m still pretty excited.