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OldChemE last won the day on October 14 2019

OldChemE had the most liked content!

About OldChemE

  • Birthday 07/13/1946

Profile Information

  • Location
    High desert Nevada USA
  • Interests
    All things science, golf, tutoring grandchildren, developing cartridge designs for old rifles (experimenting with various types of gun powder, various bullet designs, various ballistic results, target shooting), working with my hands (wood/metal).
  • College Major/Degree
    BsChe, MSNuclear
  • Favorite Area of Science
    Physical Sciences
  • Biography
    38 years engineering, 10 years teaching (Math & Science) I'm not much of a debate person. I have confidence in myself (worts and all) so I tend to state my position on a topic and move on. Peer approval isn't high on my needs list.
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  1. Thorium can also be used in a breeder reactor context-- as was done at the Shippingport power plant in the eastern US years ago. The breeding ratio wasn't terribly good as I recall-- but it worked. However, while some people talk about fear of nuclear, and while some think nuclear power is either dead or close to dead, the reality is that ever since about 1975 roughly 20% of US power generation has been Nuclear-- and still is today. I spent 40 years in the nuclear industry and certainly a good way to generate electricity safely when done right (as it has been in the US). However, I do believe it makes sense to pursue newer technology as well (fusion, wind and solar, for example). Wind and solar, in particular seem to have a faster response time from identifying a need to producing power than can be done in nuclear. The differences in response time from need to delivery make a mix desirable.
  2. Somewhat off topic-- but I find it interesting how the concentration of population (cities and such) by necessity makes topics like this important. We are very rural, high desert, and do rainwater conservation and recycling without even giving it thought, Our land is flat, unpaved, porous, and the soil is dry on the surface. When it rains there is no stream for the water to flow into. Instead, the water soaks into the ground fairly quickly (with some evaporation loss, of course). This feeds our groundwater, and we pump it out with a well. After we use it it goes into the septic system, from which it percolates back to the groundwater system.
  3. Not only does social media allow reality to be distorted, it also removes some of the historical limitations. Historically, it took effort to get anything published. This tended to limit the influence of nut cases. That is no longer the case.
  4. Having worked on Nuclear plant design in the past I agree the steam idea would be neat. Diesel generators are used because regulatory agencies require protection against multiple failures. Typically this means two or three separate systems separated so that no single accident can prevent all from working (unless, of course the designers totally underestimate the potential of a tsunami). I think steam would be great for one of the systems-- provide the steam is not radioactive. I do not know if the Ukraine plant has radioactive steam. Typically, Pressurized water reactors have clean steam-- at the expense of the complex pressurization system that has its own drawbacks. Boiling water reactors, being simpler, derive their steam directly from the reactor-- at the expense of having radioactive steam.
  5. Yes we have freewill. Our internal brain structure and brain chemistry drive what we do, as well as our environment. But-- ultimately, the things happening inside our brains leads to the decisions we make. We could argue about how inevitable our decisions are, and how much they are influenced by things we are not consciously aware of. and how much we are manipulated by outside forces, but in my opinion anything that ultimately arises from the functions within our brains constitutes free will.
  6. "How can so many numbers of nature, the constants and relationships of physics, be so spot-on perfect for humans to exist? Because they provide the boundary conditions that happened (by chance) to allow humans to exist. If nature were different, likely any life that evolved would also be different-- and some of those living beings would likewise be amazed that nature just happened to be perfect for them to exist.
  7. Mostly-- but I know of a minor overpass (over the railroad) in rural Pennsylvania that was mis-aligned because the two construction companies building the road from two opposite directions both agreed that the left edge of the road should be on the reference line for the overpass.
  8. overly complicated. To make a committee of 3 from 8: You have 8 choices for member #1, then 7 choices for the next member, then 6 for the third member. 8 x 7 x 6
  9. Oh my!! Definitely. I'm glad to find out I am not the only one. When I drive on US highways I am constantly reminded of the question of meaning because of the road sign that says "lane ends merge left." I cannot decide if this means that the lane I am in is ending and I am instructed to merge to the left, or if it simply means that the two lanes are merging in a leftward direction. This bothers me! More significantly, I once had a job of helping my boss prepare for quarterly meetings with a very volatile leader. I would spend days struggling to 'spin' the presentation in a way that would assure that the volatile leader would receive the meaning we wished to convey.
  10. Well, OK-- one attempt: A Model is an artificial construct, often mathematical, which represents a real world phenomenon, and which predicts the real-world outcome that is expected to result from a real-world input.
  11. Not intending to be particularly contrary-- but in the past 15 years or so the math books and science books I used for teaching at the high school level have seen a huge increase in pretty color pictures and large diagrams, etc-- and that is a GOOD thing. Older textbooks with printing only tended to overlook the variations in learning style of different individuals. Not everyone learns well by reading only the printed word. Textbook publishers have gotten very good at creating textbooks that are educational for a wider range of learning styles.
  12. The bells and whistles are a consumer expectation maybe?? I am reminded of 2001 when I bought a b rand new 2001 Camaro for only $16,000. For some reason the factory built a model with no bells and whistles. Nice 5 speed manual transmission, 3.8 liter high output V6 that could go like ____ (0-70 mph and still only in third gear). But, no remote locks (manual only), manual windows, only a cassette tape radio, manual antenna, manual adjusting seats. It was just sitting on the lot because nobody wanted to buy it.
  13. To some extent I would classify religion under the heading of Philosophy as well. It brings to mind when, after retiring from Engineering, I taught Science at a small Christian High School. There were two factions in the school-- one (including me) who wanted the students taught using secular science books, and another wanting to teach "Science" using religious "science" books from Bob Jones University. After much debate the school board of directors decided to use University of California approved secular books. Their reasoning was that Science should teach the students how the world works, and Religion classes (philosophy?) should focus on the moral issues-- including the rights and wrongs of the application of science. Going beyond religion, I believe the role of philosophy includes looking at the implications of science. I would even go so far as to argue that Science Fiction frequently becomes philosophy, as when authors postulate a scientific development and then examine its effects on society via the story.
  14. There is some genetic effect. The following is from my own genetic report on the site "23andme": "Our muscles are made up of two main types of fibers, called slow-twitch and fast-twitch. Fast-twitch fibers allow rapid, forceful muscle contraction — the sort of contraction required for sprinting. Slow-twitch fibers contract more slowly, but they also tire less easily. Endurance athletes tend to have more slow-twitch fibers, while power athletes (including sprinters, throwers, and jumpers) tend to have more fast-twitch fibers — a difference that may reflect both their genetics and their training habits." My genetics favor slow-twitch--and, while I am a horrible sprinter, in my youth I was a competitive long distance runner. Obviously there is more to this than genetics (training etc).
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