Cryonic technology could help meet the world's peak energy demands as well as cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, a new study says. No, not by freezing excess humans -- by storing excess energy at sub-zero temperatures.
I can't stand diamonds. No, really, they just tick me off, because nearly everything about them is a lie. Diamonds are neither rare nor intrinsically valuable nor uniquely romantic. Those are ideas invented by the diamond industry. And no, despite what the ads tell you, diamonds are not forever. They are flammable and will burn brightly with a little help from a torch. This makes perfect sense when you consider that they are made of pure carbon, which reacts with oxygen to form carbon dioxide ("reacts with oxygen" just being another way of saying "burns").
About a year ago, when resident mad scientist Theo Gray pitched me a Gray Matter column on liquid oxygen, an extremelyflammable energetic form of the element, he first proposed showing how to use it to light a grill nearly instantaneously. The lawyers, however, suggested we go a more tame route, so instead we showed how you could make a few drops of the hooch yourself.
But of course, when left to his own devices (and free of legal oversight), Theo couldn't help himself.
In large quantities, pure liquid oxygen is powerful enough to launch rockets. But even a tiny bit packs a wallop too
By Theodore GrayPosted 03.17.2008 at 12:54 pm 1 Comment
Oxygen is a good thing. Oxygen is life. But if it were much more than one fifth of our air, we'd be in serious trouble. The other four fifths is nitrogen, an almost completely inert, obstructionist gas whose main effect is to get in the way of the oxygen, especially where flame is involved. For every bit of oxygen a fire consumes, it has to heat up and push away four times as much useless nitrogen. With pure oxygen, that damper is gone, and things that merely smolder in plain air go up like dry tinder. In 1967 three Apollo 1 astronauts died in a raging fire when Velcro lit up in their pure-oxygen pressurized space capsule.
This rocket car shot along at 90 miles an hour on a different sort of alternative fuel: liquid oxygen. The driver ended up being killed in an explosion at a later trial, but its inventor insisted that the successful first run proved "the scientific possibility of driving vehicles this way."