Posts Tagged ‘Oxford’

Wired 6.11: What If Cold Fusion Is Real?

December 14, 2013

Almost four stories high, framed in steel beams and tangled in pipes, conduits, cables, and coils, the Joint European Torus (JET) claims to be the largest fusion power experiment in the world. Located near Oxford, England, JET is a monument to big science, its donut-shaped containment vessel dwarfing maintenance workers who enter it in protective suits. Here in this gleaming nuclear cauldron, deuterium gas is energized with 7 million amperes and heated to 300 million degrees Celsius – more than 10 times hotter than the center of the sun. Under these extreme conditions atomic nuclei collide and fuse, liberating energy that could provide virtually limitless power.


High-tension lines run directly to the installation, but they don’t take electricity out – they bring it in. For a few magic seconds in 1997, JET managed to return 60 percent of the energy it consumed, but that’s the best it’s ever done, and is typical of fusion experiments worldwide. The US Department of Energy has predicted that we’ll have to wait another five decades, minimum, before fusion power becomes practical. Meanwhile, the United States continues to depend on fossil fuels for 85 percent of its energy.

Many miles away, in the basement of a fine new home in the hills overlooking Santa Fe, New Mexico, a retired scientist named Edmund Storms has built a different kind of fusion reactor. It consists of laboratory glassware, off-the-shelf chemical supplies, two aging Macintosh computers for data acquisition, and an insulated wooden box the size of a kitchen cabinet. While JET’s 15 European sponsor-nations have paid about US$1 billion for their hardware, and the US government has spent $14.7 billion on fusion research since 1951 (all figures in 1997 dollars), Storms’s apparatus and ancillary gear have cost less than $50,000. Moreover, he claims that his equipment works, generating surplus heat for days at a time.

Storms is not an antiestablishment pseudoscientist pursuing a crackpot theory. For 34 years he was part of the establishment himself, employed at Los Alamos on projects such as a nuclear motor for space vehicles. Subsequently he testified before a congressional subcommittee considering the future of fusion. He believes you don’t need millions of degrees or billions of dollars to fuse atomic nuclei and yield energy. “You can stimulate nuclear reactions at room temperature,” he says, in his genial, matter-of-fact style. “I am absolutely certain that the phenomenon is real. It is quite extraordinary, and if it can be developed, it will have profound effects on society.”

That’s an understatement. If low-temperature fusion does exist and can be perfected, power generation could be decentralized. Each home could heat itself and produce its own electricity, probably using a form of water as fuel. Even automobiles might be cold fusion powered. Massive generators and ugly power lines could be eliminated, along with imported oil and our contribution to the greenhouse effect. Moreover, according to some experimental data, low-temperature fusion doesn’t create significant hazardous radiation or radioactive waste.

Most scientists laugh at these claims. “It’s pathological science,” says physicist Douglas Morrison, formerly employed by CERN in Geneva. “The results are impossible.”

Impossible, and yet Edmund Storms has gotten net energy-positive results already.

Even hot-fusion scientists are saying there is strong evidence.

Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction writer, futurist, and funder of Infinite Energy magazine: “It seems very promising to me that nuclear reactions

English: deuterium-tritium fusion diagram, poi...

English: deuterium-tritium fusion diagram, point as decimal separator  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

may occur at room temperatures. I’m quite convinced there’s something in this.”



Learning English? Helping a friend? Try learning the most used words first…

March 9, 2012

Bouncing around different web pages and following interesting links, I came across this one with facts about English, from Oxford English Dictionary folks:

The OEC: Facts about the language – Oxford Dictionaries Online:

I was a missionary for many years down south and that’s how I became fluent in Spanish. Along the way there were opportunities to teach English as a second language and with that came some knowledge about English itself, including the list you’ll find at that link of the most commonly used words of the English language.

But I also became an advocate of teaching your children from the moment they are born in everything possible, including writing.

Those two disciplines come together in some areas. I found it useful to know what were the most common words used in English.

One English school in Santo Domingo was founded by a fully trilingual (Spanish, English, Dutch -and he may have known more languages) young scholar who had researched the best ways to teach, and more specifically, languages.

He said research showed the six was the optimum number for learning the most and quickest and with the most lasting results in any subject, and that six in a class was better than one-on-one tutorials.

That’s not applicable to all learning though, and while class size makes some difference, it doesn’t make all the difference. The teacher‘s approach is a big factor, and his personality helps, and how he accommodates the teaching style to fit the personality, whether the teacher best fits the students (I’m a fantastic technical instructor but not too apt for high schoolers, for example), materials can help, and in some cases discipline in the classroom for younger grades and high school.

And then there’s home schooling that has proven in countries of the West at least to be far better in terms of academic performance and character formation than the government schooling centers. For various reasons.

But back to the vocabulary list. At the above mentioned English school (its name has slipped from memory for now) we had flash cards with stick figures for the most commonly used nouns and verbs, with some that were good functionally for helping the language absorption along. The first thing we did was to have the students memorize a small set of words each of a few nouns, a few verbs. The first words were good for building perfectly legitimate two-word sentences in English, like “She walks”, “He talks”.

Then we’d add a few more nouns and verbs, plus some adjectives. And the language building continued from there.

One more thing. We taught them to memorize a new word the first day, and review them the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 15th, and the 30th day. If they followed that review pattern, the word stuck with them forever.

I think it was maybe the best method.

The school shortly after I started teaching there closed down, because having a maximum of six hit up against the realities of cost. The school’s founder had other contacts anyway, and shortly thereafter I learned he had gotten contracts for high-volume translations of some important international documents. I inherited the students in my classes who hired me privately and the rest is history.

I thought I would share some of this experience for anyone who might benefit from it.