By Lana BirbrairPosted 03.22.2010 at 10:02 am 18 Comments
It depends on the source of the pulse. Electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) large enough to cause you trouble come in two varieties: those produced by the sun, and those created by a nuclear bomb or another military-grade emitter device. With the sun-related variety, specifically coronal mass ejections (CMEs), your gear will probably be fine. But a really large CME could take down the power grid, says Bill Murtagh, the program coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center.
A few months ago, we brought you the "You Built What?!" feature about Charles Guan's Electric Death Trap Shopping Cart Contraption. More recently, he released an excellent Instructable about making your own miniature electric hub motor.
No electricity, no running water, and no phone service for millions of people. That scenario could easily become reality if a solar storm as intense as those found throughout the history of our planet were to strike Earth today. NPR reported on FEMA's recent simulation of such a storm, and the grim conditions it uncovered.
Earth lacks a living neural network that connects all living things, as seen in Avatar's Pandora. But apparently some bacteria at least grow their own tendrils or nanowires to form a giant natural battery, Danish researchers report in this week's issue of the journal Nature.
Banishing energy-hogging treatment plants and rotting pipes
By Adam M. BrightPosted 02.03.2010 at 10:21 am 4 Comments
Every year, Americans produce 12 trillion gallons of wet sewage and burn 21 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity to clean it to drinking-water standards. Why not put the smelly stuff to good use? Thanks to clever new technology, sewage will be reclaimed to provide power, produce fertilizer and, eventually, yield clean water. In other words, sooner than you think, you'll be drinking your own urine.
I recently moved my shop, and in addition to the big issues, from forklift rental to sleep deprivation, we also had to deal with things like three-phase power, a variation of power delivery often used for big equipment. The old shop had it and the new shop doesn't. So what the heck is three-phase power and how can you convert machinery to go from the more common single-phase to three-phase and vice versa? Read on.
A physics fanatic down under is having a very Tesla Christmas this year, creating a 30-foot electrifying display of yuletide cheer by attaching a rotating rod to the top of a Tesla coil, making for quite the colorful Christmas tree. Using such specialized science tools as a fishing rod and sinker, household power, and a Nikon D300, physician and Tesla buff Peter Terren manipulated 500,000 volts at a time to produce the images seen here.
Suburban rave-goers, women of Jersey Shore, and Elton John, take note: your lives just got a little bit greener. The sartorial risk-takers over at Sandia National Labs have created glitter-sized photovoltaic cells that could revolutionize solar energy collection the way Liberace revolutionized the dress code for concert pianists.
Organig LEDs hold large promise for efficient, thin and flexible lighting elements (as well as razor-thin TVs), but low-tech power sources continue to constrain more creative uses of the lights. After all, what good is a shirt of woven LEDs if you need to lug around 10 C batteries to power it? Thankfully, GE is teaming up with the makers of printable, paper-thin battery to create self-powered OLEDs with the battery integrated into the thin light element itself.
The Trend: Internet-connected energy monitors. They grab details on electric use from your wiring and send them to a Web site where you can analyze the data—and figure out how to save both watts and cash.
Why Now: Utilities keep promising “smart” electric meters that automatically provide real-time, online info, but most Americans still don’t have them. Now millions of stimulus dollars are inspiring companies to create and sell kits that add smart features to any ordinary meter.