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Ken Fabian

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Posts posted by Ken Fabian

  1. https://techxplore.com/news/2021-01-inexpensive-battery-rapidly-electric-vehicles.html

    Battery R&D is a huge deal now - and appears to be making significant progress. Of course commercial ie real world success is still to be shown, but -

    400km vehicle range in a 10 minute charge, costs not known but claimed to be lower cost than existing Li-Ion - no cobalt or other expensive metals - and expected working life of >3 million km (2 million miles).

    Supposed to be because the (lithium iron sulphate) battery heats up to best temperature (60 C/140F) for charging and discharging. I have to say I had always thought raised temperatures was a problem for batteries, rather than a benefit - for most battery types. Some high temp batteries are out there but they aren't like anything I expect for powering our cars or homes.

    Fast charging is useful but I think for most users most of the time, not necessary. Not the biggest deal in my view. My own thinking is electricity network operators will benefit from EV's being plugged in whenever parked somewhere, to vary charging rates as the balance point between demand and supply shifts, and have access to (an agreed portion of) that battery capacity.

    For commercial vehicles - road freight - this could be very significant. I'd been thinking trucks might need quick replacement battery packs to avoid time at chargers, but batteries like this could make that unnecessary.

    I do think just on durability alone this would be significant (if it makes commercial production) - and not only for EV's. For EV's the usual car body, suspension, seats and trim would not last anything close to 3 million km - although improved durability would be a good thing. How that would work for a household with solar on roof interests me - the batteries we have (a different kind of Lithium Iron Phosphate) are expected to last about 15 years... batteries that will go 50 years? At large scale for grids that will be a huge factor for reducing lifetime costs.

  2. Am I correct in interpreting the US prohibition on Congress restricting the rights of a free press as affirming the right of media proprietors to express partisan political views and use their papers to promote them? That seems to include the right to NOT promote views they disagree with and even allowing publishing of falsehoods - with not very compensatory right (if you can afford it) to seek legal redress for slander. It is difficult for me to interpret the deplatforming by social media companies as different to a newpaper editor choosing promote some kinds and to leave out some kinds of content, or to refusing to publish letters to editor.

  3. On 11/3/2020 at 10:00 AM, Snape said:

    Tbe ambient temperature of air above an area of ocean has an influence on the temperature of the water below.

    It goes both ways - I think more a case of sea surface temperatures determining air temperature than the other way around.


    13 hours ago, BillyFisher said:

    I still haven't found an answer to your question: What's really going on?

    My answer is/was that global average temperature was and is an arbitrary choice for providing a simple, single indicator of change to the climate system; others might do as well or better (I would nominate Ocean Heat Content but the record doesn't go back so far), but weather records are our longest running direct measurements from which change can be observed. So, addressing part 1 of original question, yes it is useful. Is it a thermodynamically valid concept? I think that is probably a pointless question - temperatures are not the same as heat but when they are going up it clearly indicates gain of heat. How closely that temperature reflects overall change to the global energy balance? My understanding is... reasonably well. The extent and nature of local and regional change is a whole lot more complex.

    The implied question of whether an average temperature is a valid concept - ie the use of averaging samples from some or many places in place of measuring every place - seems to rest on the proposition that the places not sampled could have temperatures and trends of temperatures very different from those of the places sampled. In conspiracy theory argument, chosen for showing the trend wanted. In reality pretty much every place sampled around the world over a long period shows warming temperatures and that could not be random.  I am not sure I can do this question justice but will say it is not just statistics, but about climate and weather processes - we can observe that nearby locations experience similar conditions, such that e.g. a cold air mass blowing across a region is not observed to cause specific locations to result in one place being cold, but nearby locations are not - other than where other geographic factors come into play like elevation, orientation, vegetation. And where those differences exist it is evident in the weather records of those places; it won't be randomly changing. The local conditions make their own local baseline from which change and trends of change can be observed.

    The number of samples matters of course - a single sample, or too few, for the whole planet would not give a valid result, but for these purposes there are (IIUC) more than 30,000 that qualify as long running and reliable. If I understand correctly averaging comes with uncertainty range - that decreases with the number of samples. It would be possible to select from weather station data in order to be deliberately biased - but because those showing cooling trends are so few (are there any?) you would have to exclude most records to NOT get a warming trend. I think basic honesty and a professional attitude is the default; presumption of incompetence or bias built into the supposed "skepticism" opponents of climate  responsibility and action use are vile in my view.

  4. I think popular entertainment and the distorted representations of "reality" it provides -  probably contributes; people spend a lot of time in the fantasy land of media news, entertainment and advertising  - and the lines between those are increasingly blurred. They are also more and more tailored and targeted, to engage the hopes and fears and beliefs various sectional groups of people hold, such that any editorial balance is not within the 'feeds', but with the diversity of different 'feeds'; increasingly our preferred views get reinforced unless we make an effort to sample other sources of information. I think our societies have always run in step with and promoted rather fanciful and self serving and self congratulatory stories of "how things work"; heroes rising up, taking matters into their own hand, saving the innocent, the day, the nation, and exacting revenge, is a popular theme anytime. But with partisan media - who was it predicted the political parties of the future will be media companies? - other media telling it differently to a different audience are portrayed as enemies and untrustworthy, preventing, not enabling an informed, balanced view, let alone treating differences as legitimately different opinion.

    The supposed Constitutional "right" to take up arms against their own government may add to willingness of fired up citizens to engage in direct action in the USA, in ways other nations with elected governments and rule of law do not - I say "supposed right" because it would only be a right ever upheld if the revolution succeeds... making the USA no different to any other nation, where insurrection is always criminal, with the notable exception of where it succeeds.

  5. I think Trump's actions were criminal as well as dangerously irresponsible. In any nation where rule of law, truth and justice (and fair elections) are held up as their strengths and virtues, those holding relevant offices failing to address this behavior is... dangerously irresponsible. Possibly criminal in turn?

  6. A question for science based enquiry rather than a demonstrated theory? A scientific work in progress? It stands out as the only credible option - any panspermia, intelligent creation just shifts the goalposts back to how life or Gods began - but it hasn't been demonstrated.

    Abiogenesis is not the same as Evolution; we have good evidence of Evolution but none (excluding existing life as evidence) for Abiogenesis. Even demonstrating an example of it (say in a lab) doesn't demonstrate that was how life on Earth actually began, but would demonstrate that it is possible.

    So much room to argue about it - lab conditions are not going to be precisely the conditions, just a best imitation, that includes some intelligent (human) interventions, if just to raise the odds. But I suspect it may be something that only gets resolved indirectly, using modeling to determine possible chemical pathways.

    Certainly there is ongoing work on those possible chemical pathways. Most recently, from Scripps Research -


    a simple compound called diamidophosphate (DAP), which was plausibly present on Earth before life arose, could have chemically knitted together tiny DNA building blocks called deoxynucleosides into strands of primordial DNA.


  7. Being known as a place that is free from disasters could lead to disaster if too many people from disaster prone regions try and move there. Walls and fences and border patrols can only do so much. In a trade connected and dependent world the problems of one region can and will impact other regions . But conversely, assistance from other parts of the world can flow back to alleviate that - if only to prevent the spread.

  8. 4 hours ago, MigL said:

    While lithium or solid state may be cost effective for smaller applications, laptops, cars, etc., I don't think they'll cut it for large scale power applications, such as power to a city.

    Even 5 years ago I might have agreed but battery R&D has become a truly massive deal; the players in that game are serious and are seriously well funded. It may not be wise to put all hope in them succeeding spectacularly but assuming they must fail, with perhaps a decade before growth of solar and wind starts forcing the issue, seems especially pessimistic.

    100% is overly optimistic  - and most larger grids are unlikely to ever be 100% any one thing - but nothing in this arena is staying the same long enough to base future projections on past performance. Batteries in the pipeline in Australia are reaching towards totals of GW of power and GWh of storage, already more than 10 times the electricity market operator's predictions made just 4 years ago - and causing plans for new gas plants to be deferred or shelved. It has been suggested that South Australia - admittedly especially good solar and wind - already has about 1/10th of the storage capacity to run at 100% RE. Some pumped hydro is coming along too.

    I think if we can do cars with batteries then cities stop looking so difficult - each car will have more battery storage than most homes and many small businesses need to run overnight from rooftop solar. Perhaps better so for warmer, sunny climates than Canada's Winters, which may need other solutions in addition. It will be to the advantage of low emissions committed grid operators to have lots of EV's plugged in when not in use rather than fast charged and disconnected. This will be both to vary charging rates to smooth supply (and demand) variability and (under mutually agreed terms with day to day consumer choice) get access to a portion of that stored energy. Every office and street car parking space with an EV charge connection will be worth something to power companies, something more valuable than mere convenience to customers.



  9. Solar using mirrors work okay and can include thermal storage, usually molten salt -



    But I suspect the inclusion of storage has been premature and has not been good economically for these kinds of solar plants - in the absence of a price premium for that stored power. As the proportion of wind and solar grows the value of on demand power to fill the gaps will become more apparent. That will not be a market that suits nuclear; undercut on price during the day and forced to wring the bulk of revenues out of what remains - and that is a market for fast response, on demand power, not steady baseload; nuclear will have competition, including batteries and pumped hydro and even evolving flexible industrial practices. 

    Meanwhile big PV is doing daytime electricity cheaper than these kinds of plants and big batteries are getting cheaper too - about 90% drop in price for Lithium Ion in the past decade and there are extraordinary R&D efforts underway to do batteries better. Tech device makers, cordless tool makers, vehicle makers, renewable energy makers plus government agencies all want better and are spending big to do it. Recent advances in relevant sciences is coming up with the deep understandings and clever tools to make big improvements not just possible but likely - and whoever cracks the next best possible battery will get rich beyond imagination.


  10. As serious as I think global warming is I have never thought it beyond our collective capabilities to deal with it or that dealing with it would be risking economic prosperity; rather, failing to do so has been and remains the greater risk to prosperity. Having a bottomless budget would seem to help, yet I suspect equivalence to all the military budgets would be overkill and potentially counter-productive; being cost effective is an essential requirement and an excess of budget could encourage wasteful expenditure. Use it to buy out the fossil fuel companies and shut them down as accelerated replacement clean energy comes on line, preventing the use of their revenues supporting Doubt, Deny, Delay politicking? Supporting those who will need new kinds of employment and investments?

    Diverting a lot of military R&D to clean energy sounds good - but simply supporting energy R&D better would do just as well. What might help is the kind of economy wide shift to war footing that occurred during WW2 - but would be a lot less disruptive, milder, less economically damaging. A deep commitment with forethought and planning would go a long way - and not necessarily directly planning specific tech pathways, but in policy and regulatory measures that encourage the massive investments in low emissions energy needed.  For sure we are better placed now than proposing economy wide change 20-30 years ago - it is happening to some extent already.

    I would do as iNow suggests and have a progressive, predictable but inexorable ramping up of carbon pricing/tax - not aimed at end consumers of energy but aimed at the energy industry and investors. It would be a carbon tax that is, by design, intended to be avoidable by choosing investments in low emissions energy options. Subsidy for clean energy? A well designed carbon pricing system ought not need that, but that - and helping out those who's careers in coal and gas and oil are going to be lost - is okay with me. But like any allocating of the proceeds should be open to scrutiny, always, and subject to revision, always. I am personally not a fan of mandating how government revenues are allocated.

  11. Conditions are likely to favour offspring that are less neurotic or introverted despite the skewed initial population. It would not be "drift" - which refers to levels of random mutation, that, if benign or beneficial can passed to offspring, to become prevalent and ultimately fixed within a population. I'm not convinced neuroses and introversion are likely candidates for becoming fixed traits.

  12. 4 hours ago, MigL said:

    And you, as a scientist, don't ignore them, as they can certainly point you in a more favorable direction, and get proper diagnostics. but you certainly would not base the diagnostics solely on the markers. They are simply a tool.


    I think this fundamental human flaw - that we recognise danger and target our enemies by outward markers like dress codes, skin colour, religion or politics - makes it more important to base significant actions on actual evidence. I don't dispute that there can be advantage to danger/crime avoidance at personal level and possibly small advantages to crime prevention/detection at societal level in profiling by appearances but I think there are significant downsides, including the reinforcing of prejudices and existing hatreds. If our society is not homogenous - most developed democracies with rule of law are not - and seeks to be inclusive, with ideals of fair treatment under law - most developed  democracies do - it become important to be aware of that propensity to judge (wrongly) by outward appearance.

    Being routinely treated with suspicion on the basis of surface appearances undermines a sense of belonging. Those who feel unfairly targeted and excluded are more likely to get angry - whilst being subject to that same flaw as well; it may engender distrust of police and authorities in general rather than of specific wrongful acts or perpetrators. It becomes more likely they will turn to those experiencing the same prejudice for solidarity and support. More likely to feel that lashing out indiscriminately is justified, that any unwitting victims of that "deserve it" - because of the group the victims are perceived to belong to. It can also lead to acceptance of criminal behavior - where it targets victims that are perceived to "deserve it"; if people are treated like a thief whether doing theft or not then I think some people will be more inclined to steal without guilt when opportunity arises. That is what I think this short circuit in human behavior can lead to - a tolerance for and even satisfaction in harsh treatment of those deemed to deserve it by virtue of the community they are perceived to belong to.

  13. Inevitably we do invoke prejudices - the bearded, tattooed bike rider who is part of an organised crime gang will make us wary of the bearded, tattooed bike riders that raise money for charities and never hurt anyone. We can be okay, even pleased with harsh police actions - or vigilante actions - against bearded, tattooed bike riders in general, on the basis that all share responsibility and it will be a lesson to the ones who are criminal.

    We can be okay with that - even getting vicarious satisfaction from knowing police are targeting bearded, tattooed bike riders - but if we are bearded tattooed bike riders who never hurt anyone it is prejudicial and unjust.

    I think it is one of humankinds most serious flaws that we can feel satisfaction and even enjoy violence so long as we think the victim deserves it. Thinking they deserve it doesn't require investigation or weighing evidence; just being told that someone is bad can be good enough. Or having similar dress, appearance, ethnicity, religious or political affiliation to someone deemed "bad" can be good enough. When retribution for criminal acts can be applied to people who just look like someone who committed criminal acts then retribution becomes a crime all of it's own.

  14. I was thinking "don't millipedes have an odd number of legs?" But that is centipedes. I had also thought the number of segments didn't increase - also wrong. Once upon a time you would have had to search a library for a textbook (if they have the right ones) or consult with a museum to find out. And remembering was more significant. Now we can fail to remember and just look it up each time we want to know.

  15. There are real feedbacks capable of continuing the warming after human emissions cease and determining what they might do is important. Whether this particular study has the number right or not the potential for natural Carbon sinks to turn into sources as a consequence of warming so far and carrying warming past a threshold into self sustaining is real, as are albedo changes from ice and snow cover. It would be good to know - and despite the extent of our knowing better but doing it anyway approach, the potential for science based understanding to inform policy is there.

    My impression is there is an expectation (but not certainty) that a sudden cessation of human emissions now will result in warming stopping, that those feedbacks are not yet so strong as to carry on much further warming - beyond potential for a short lived "spike" from the sudden reduction of atmospheric aerosols that come from fossil fuel burning, moderated by a reduction in atmospheric CO2 (and warming potential) from ocean uptake.

  16. Sure, we can model imaginary things, like (studiot) dams that have not been built or stars with planets of varying types and sizes, or global warming with varying emissions pathways that have not and may never happen - but these are built around fundamental understandings of the physical processes, informed and bounded by observable or experimental data.

    5 hours ago, geordief said:

    Can we have models without  a "modeled"?

    Imaginary things or  imaginary physical processes could be modeled as well, in combination with real ones - what might happen if CO2 were not a greenhouse gas or how a Big Bang might propagate in a universe with different physical law for example - or with entirely imaginary physics, without any references to reality as we know it. Not sure what purpose the latter might serve - curiosity, sure, but they may give mathematical or other insights.


    On 10/30/2020 at 7:05 AM, Endy0816 said:

    Bought a strip off eBay. Trying to figure out if it being noisier than similar strips of metal is just my imagination or not. Any help or thoughts on the subject is appreciated.

    Heat treating one and not the other to compare makes a kind of sense, however the characteristics of many "ordinary" metals vary greatly according to variations of heating and cooling. You may do better tracking down the specific characteristics of that specific metallic glass than attempting to get answers through experimentation.

  18. You can buy solar laptop chargers, usually having some kind of battery included, that charge DC directly. I'm sure simple solar plus small "camping" inverter to local AC voltage/frequency is possible using standard plug in chargers. Having solar built in - back of fold out screen - would likely work too, but more for placing in sun when not in use, with more time like that than in use. It would not work so well during use.

  19. We have no examples of other kinds of biology. Water, as well as the elements and precursor compounds terrestrial life rely upon, appears to be widespread through the known universe and on planets. Even as hypotheticals/theoreticals, other kinds of chemistry look problematic. We may be able to model possibilities and find something that could work to produce life, but so far as I know none look promising. We may find that even with water based/carbon based life there may only be limited ways self replicating complex biochemistry can arise, ie that alternatives to our RNA/DNA/protein based life as we know it may be very unlikely or even impossible.

  20. 23 hours ago, VenusPrincess said:

    The global average temperature deviation (or anomaly) is used by climate scientists to justify their concern over man-made climate change

    It has been useful to have a simple, single measure that shows global change but that global average is the tip of a very large iceberg. The last IPCC report - AR5 - ran to 2,000 pages, citing nearly 10,000 scientific studies. Claiming all concern over man made climate change is justified by one global average surface air temperature is not true.

    Admittedly most Presidents or Prime Ministers will not have read any full IPCC reports, but Synthesis reports and Summaries for Policymakers are reasonably accessible and understandable. Also they can call upon science agencies and experts to help them understand - as well as confirm that the science that produced those reports is valid. They can also run checks for evidence of fraud or conspiracy - but the "worst" anyone has managed is a few phrases in emails taken out of context and the fact that there are people in the UN who are dedicated to reducing global inequality and poverty and they want to incorporate those ends into climate policy.

    The use of global average surface temperatures may be more accident of history; a whole lot of local temperature records - minimums and maximums mostly - being in existence when climate change became a subject for study offered a way to find out if the world is warming (or cooling). At it's most basic it is a way to confirm or not that global warming is actually taking place. Whether viewed as a history of warming that needs explanation or viewed as real world confirmation of theoretical understanding of The Greenhouse Effect and how it should be expected to change global heat balance when CO2 levels change, it does give confirmation.

    Dive into the data and variability across the world is there too ; it gets used in many different ways, including with respect to local and regional change.

    2018-19 regional average temperature anomalies for example -



    But I think of all measures of real world change that most closely shows the heat gain from man made climate change, this one is best -


  21. Oh, the solar system is not a model; it is the real deal, and the planets besides Earth can be observed directly and be seen to orbit the Sun - or more correctly their centre of combined mass, the barycentre, which is inside the Sun but off centre.  Earth's orbit can be determined by it's relative motions compared to the stars around us and has been confirmed to orbit the combined Earth-Sun barycentre.

  22. I had a good mathematics teacher for a year at high school and for a brief time calculus was a joy. I haven't used it much since and so, have mostly forgotten. I do recall deriving the equation for the area of a circle using calculus - I think it was a test question - and that it seemed to be seamless in it's logic. Made a Pi starting from square one!

    I couldn't do it now but it was kind of reassuring. It may have contributed more to my trusting established knowledge rather than sparking great determination to personally confirm everything. I cannot work out the equation for area of a circle from first principles now but at the time I was all round impressed.

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