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Ken Fabian

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Ken Fabian last won the day on June 1 2020

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About Ken Fabian

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    Climate Science: Climate Politics: Energy technologies: Human Evolution

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  1. Getting a view of space would have to wait until instruments that can deal with other bands than visible - or aircraft/rockets to lift instruments or observers above the cloud layer - but I don't know to what extent such technology would be dependent on astronomy. Seems like we should be able to do those things without an understanding of what is out there and still get there in the end. I don't think being unable to see the stars would prevent a sense of wonder or curiosity - and I seriously doubt the evolution of those traits was ever dependent on it; they evolved and developed and got
  2. There is the question - what if there were no stars at all. That would leave us without a Sun. What if there was only one star - the Sun; that would leave Earth without the elements that came from other stars. But I think the question may be about if they exist but could not be seen and whether we could feel similar awe and wonder for other objects. It seems obvious to me that we can... because humans do feel that about other things than the night sky and celestial objects; the vast oceans, their reaches, their mysterious depths. Mountain ranges, giant forest trees. Caves and deep undergr
  3. I do think major growth of nuclear energy in the absence of opposition would have resulted in more accidents as well as nuclear weapons proliferation and potentially incidents of use of them; those were and remain real, not imaginary issues and those concerns gained a deal of mainstream tolerance and support for anti-nuclear activism. The drive to build reactors that cannot melt down came in part as response to safety concerns raised mostly by activists. I also suspect the desire of major powers to limit weapons proliferation was a significant factor (after cost and difficulty) in why tha
  4. Well, a whole lot of things would need to have been different and not just absence of anti-nuclear activism, which I think has been amongst the least of nuclear's problems. I suspect nuclear technology itself would have to have been different - more like the still yet to be achieved mass manufactured, ultra-safe, foolproof, tamper-proof, ultra-reliable, low maintenance modular power plant. And cheaper than coal or gas or oil. I am not sure it is going to provide much illumination to run through possible alternative histories: the impacts of no protesters and subsequently more relaxed shit
  5. Without any evidence people who make medicines and study viruses and develop policies to reduce and eliminate harm from infectious diseases are accused of deliberately making and releasing serious viral sicknesses. All the virologists and immunologists and other health experts are either incompetent or in on it? I went to school with someone who's ambition was medical research - never cheated on tests and never had to and would have been appalled at the idea of making diseases so some companies and shareholders make money. Frankly I think anonymous pseudo-experts casually passing around s
  6. Energy efficient homes help but I don't have a problem with growing AC use, just with any growth of fossil fuel consumption to run them. And heat pump (including AC) technologies are amongst our most efficient. Building an abundance of clean energy helps whether homes are efficient or not - and that shift to clean energy is already happening, just not quickly enough. Similarly for Electric Vehicles; they are not a solution without a shift to clean energy sources to both build them and run them. It is not enough that people who care enough to voluntarily reduce their carbon footprint at pe
  7. I am not so interested in whether bioreactors and biofuels can work on the moon or Mars as whether it can help meet our near term and critical requirements for abundant clean energy here on Earth - but any technology to be used in space will have to be developed and proven on Earth first, so that isn't a conflict of interest. The advantage of PV is you just expose it to sunlight and it makes electricity. No moving parts, can be plug and play, is low cost and exceptionally reliable, and likewise for associated equipment. Available solar area isn't usually the limiting constraint, so energy
  8. I think people are making it more complicated than it needs to be. I think the "solution" to surviving past the death of the sun is developing the capability to make and sustain self supporting artificial habitats, using just the raw materials from asteroids, comets and similar that will give homo sapiens (and/or later homo speciations) the means. I suspect if we succeed in inhabiting anywhere off Earth it will be because we have are capable of most of that, but initially with the advantage of solar power. To be self sufficient without solar power - to have reliable fusion energy I suppos
  9. Not any kind of expert here but I note that bread and booze are yeast based and whilst they can be interchangeable the bread yeasts are selected for high CO2 production, so bread rises, whilst brewer's yeast is selected for alcohol production as well as some CO2 for the fizz. Even so, some bacterial fermentation appears to be involved as well. Mostly they are considered a problem - including by turning alcohol into vinegar. Yoghurt is bacterial and whilst it produces CO2 the cultures used don't appear great for making alcohol, so maybe not so good for making booze. Some bacteria do make a
  10. If it is lasting centuries to millennia in soil it has to be resisting chemical compounding that consumes carbon. Activated carbon filters chemically combine with organic compounds by adsorption (making a film over the surface). My understanding is any reactivity is confined to the surface and becomes self limiting, which leaves the carbon beneath unchanged. Charcoal is activated by grinding it finely to make more surface area, for adsorption, which creates a protective barrier for the internal material - fine ground because it resists compounding once an adsorptive film is formed.
  11. True, yet in the form of charcoal in soil it is quite stable and resistant to microbial breakdown. In boreal forest soils that can be hundreds to thousands of years. I doubt it lasts so long in tropical conditions but I only did a brief lookaround for relevant info. From "Charcoal ecology: Its function as a hub for plant succession and soil nutrient cycling in boreal forests" Sounds like it is more like a catalyst than a chemical "feedstock" in soil; it promotes biogeochemical processes without being used up. Porous, high surface area and adsorptive ie attracts and holds surface c
  12. Incomplete combustion leaves an abundance of charcoal and partially burned materials. Fires will reduce the amount of leaf and other organic material but increase the amount of charcoal in soils - so the premise that it is lost due to fires is actually the reverse of what happens in practice. Intense fires can eliminate most charcoal and burn with little carbon residue but that is localised. Charcoal has beneficial effects in soil, providing a framework that microorganisms take advantage of.
  13. All individual humans are different... therefore we don't have an absolutely precise definition of a human there is no such thing as a group of humans - just one and all the rest are flawed imitations... No, this discussion looks like a problem with words and their definitions - and the aspects shared are the unifying characteristics that make "human"; the differences between individuals (even identical twins) don't negate what is shared. The potential for abiogenesis in the universe isn't going to go away with a redefinition of what "abiogenesis" means.
  14. Turn it the other way around - if healthcare workers refuse vaccination and they become a vector for Covid transmission, should they be legally liable for medical/funeral/other expenses of those who get sick as a result? Should their employers face legal sanctions for failure to insist on vaccination? Seems to me there are duties of care that override any personal "free" choice.
  15. Push or pull, pressure or suction, either way can do that - the earliest steam engines sucked (from steam condensing in the chamber) rather than blew; depends on the design whether such a piston would push or pull. It would work either way. I note that my bicycle pump pumps air both pushing and pulling. But what is the piston connected to? A crankshaft like a reciprocating engine? Or will it pump air, say, through a turbine? The first example above ditches the piston and uses the water column itself as the piston to pump air past a turbine - much simpler. The second example could hav
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