Bleeding Edge

by Michael Ho


Filed Under:
matter



DailyDirt: Stuff About Matter, The Stuff We're All Made Of

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The stuff that matters sometimes depends on chemistry and material science. Occasionally, we forget that all the digital bits we push around every day are stored somewhere in atoms and molecules in our brains and computers. Here are some reminders that matter matters:
  • You got your gold salts in my cinnamon. You got your cinnamon in my gold salts. Gold nanoparticles have never sounded so delicious. [url]
  • German scientists explain why diamond can be machined and polished. Basically, the surfaces of diamonds are not the same as the bulk diamond -- and can be oxidized by diamond grinding. [url]
  • The Sahara Solar Breeder Project uses sand from the desert to make more solar cells -- "From the viewpoints of quality, quantity and chemistry, Sahara sand is hard to beat for use as silicon for solar cells." [url]
  • The current Uranium disposal policy probably isn't sustainable. Reduce, re-use, recycle applies to radioactive materials, too. [url]

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2010 @ 5:39pm

      "we forget that all the digital bits we push around every day are stored somewhere in atoms and molecules in our brains and computers."

      Really? What's the matter with our memories?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2010 @ 6:03pm

      Enjoying this daily thing a lot.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2010 @ 6:05pm

      I don't think that Sahara power thing will work that well, what people need are self-sufficient technologies not more centralized ones, but it could be a good thing who knows really.

      I dream of houses that are mobile, produce a great deal of their own energy and have guts, meaning they recycle what you put in them and put out raw materials that can be used for something maybe for feeding fridge size enclosed airponics/hydroponics with nutrients, so people never go hungry, they can go on a diet but not hungry.

      The first step to space colonization starts on earth.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Hephaestus (profile), 7 Dec 2010 @ 7:11am

        Re:

        "I don't think that Sahara power thing will work that well, what people need are self-sufficient technologies not more centralized ones, but it could be a good thing who knows really."


        Actually you are going to see energy as a commodity go away over the next few years. The commodity will be energy production capacity. When solar cells and energy storage get to the point where it costs less than $20-$40 USD ($ depending on who you listen to) per Mwh the power grid is no longer financially sustainable. Energy will have to be produced locally to be financially competative.

        If you chart out the cost of renewables and technological trends into the future. You see large scale energy production become unsustainable in 5-15 years. 5 years if there is a technological hail mary (unlikely but it may happen), 10 years +-2 if things go as they are now, 15 years with governmnet regulation meant to stop the technology.

        This is yet another disruptive technology that will change things in a major way.

        "I dream of houses that are mobile, produce a great deal of their own energy .... so people never go hungry, they can go on a diet but not hungry."

        Now you are talking crazy talk ... :)

        Maybe not with Zyvex's recent creation of single atom precision Silicon layering. Full blow nanotechnology is only 10 - 15 years out. So your "Walking house" that "feeds you", which by the way speaks to mother attachment issues and a need to escape from your current painful situation, is only a couple decades out.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 7 Dec 2010 @ 12:24pm

          Re: Re:

          Electricity cost will drop by half to three fourths in ten years? Not sure I buy that.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Hephaestus (profile), 8 Dec 2010 @ 7:15am

            Re: Re: Re:

            "Electricity cost will drop by half to three fourths in ten years? Not sure I buy that."

            I often write and comment about disruptive technologies. This is one of the ones I see coming in the energy arena in less than 10 years. I follow and research the alt energy scene. Wind, solar, tidal, etc. A couple months back I was given an custom filled inkjet cartridge and a sheet of overhead transparency paper. I was able to print out a 1.5 watt 8 x 10 inch solar cell. From what I was told the "ink" for the cell cost less than 2 cent. The efficiency sucked, the life span was months, you couldn't get it wet or it stopped working, but it is a beginning.

            Now compare this printed solar cell at a ~penny a watt, to a coal plant at a dollar a watt. It wont be a 3/4 drop in price, it will be even greater.

            MIT researchers print solar cell on paper


            Google search on Printing solar cells

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              nasch (profile), 8 Dec 2010 @ 12:06pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              You may well be right, and I hope you are. But "the efficiency sucked, the life span was months, you couldn't get it wet" are each individually deal-breakers for a marketable solution. I know there are great technologies on the way, but it always costs more and works less well than it seems in the lab, and usually takes longer to develop as well.

              I don't doubt power will be far cheaper in the future, it's the 10 years I doubt. That is to say, I doubt power will be *generally* available in the US for less than 4 cents per kWh by 2020, though I'm sure there will be some devices capable of that. Again... I hope I'm wrong and you're right. Really cheap clean renewable power will solve a huge number of problems.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2010 @ 6:43pm

      arsenic lifeform science = shabby

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2010 @ 6:47pm

      Research Tectonic Engineering and build a Core Waste Dump. That'll solve your uranium disposal issues.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ryan Diederich, 6 Dec 2010 @ 7:06pm

      An unsolvable problem...

      Reuse and Recycle could never possibly apply to radioactive waste, as even the quickest of decomposers take several thousand years.

      The only REAL answer is to sacrifice a planet for a dump, like venus, cause its pretty much sucky there already.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Ryan Diederich, 6 Dec 2010 @ 7:08pm

        Also...

        Just realized that the "dangerous" gold nanoparticle production method is the most widely used system to harvest scrap gold.

        As a matter of fact, I am currently in the process of ordering some aqua regia, as I have 1.35oz of pure gold, mixed in with jewelry and crap. Although the fumes are toxic, metal precipitation is the most efficient method.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2010 @ 12:40am

          Re: Also...

          Try electrorefining is the same thing as electroplating.

          That is how people recover gold from cellphones.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        darryl, 6 Dec 2010 @ 9:14pm

        Re: An unsolvable problem...

        Australia has developed a method of converting nuclear waste, into a rock form.. (called Synrock), it is inert, it does not leach.

        And a nuclear power plant has a radioactive problem, because they have to collect and store all their waste.

        If that was the case for coal power, it would be a much larger problem than with nuclear power.

        Do you know a coal power station RELEASES 100 times more nuclear waste into the atmosphere, than a nuclear power station of the same size.. And they have to keep and store all their waste...

        How many people do you think have died from the coal and coal power industry...

        And how many people in total have been killed by nuclear power generation.

        chernoble was the biggest, and the amount of deaths DIRECTLY related to that accident, was about 54..

        Compared to the probably hundreds of thousands of people who have died working coal mines, and power stations, and from the pollution effects of the toxic chemicals, radioactive particles, and green houses gases generated from coal power.

        Its so stupid for humans in the year 2010 to be still digging shit up from the ground and burning it for their energy requirements.

        We are still a Type 1 civilization, in furture generations, they are going to think back on our generation as a bunch of fools and idiots who killed the world..

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Hephaestus (profile), 7 Dec 2010 @ 7:14am

          Re: Re: An unsolvable problem...

          Blah Blah blah ... Mercury, radium, all sorts of other radioactives dumped into the atmosphere by burning coal. Stop whining and do something about it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2010 @ 11:04pm

        Re: An unsolvable problem...

        The problem with your solution is the non-insignificant chance that the spaceship will meet with disaster in the atmosphere. Suspending a large load of nuclear waste in the atmosphere is not a recipe for a healthy planet.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      chillienet (profile), 6 Dec 2010 @ 7:21pm

      Can't get to the first link from popsci.com from Australia. It keeps adding a .au and tells me that the page I'm looking for can't be found. I will be trying a proxy when I get home but it is rather annoying....
      The other 3 articles are cool though.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Hephaestus (profile), 7 Dec 2010 @ 7:56am

      Michael - Thanks for adding the URLs

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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