Building the World

September 3, 2016
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The 38% Solution

Will 38 soon become 88? Image: wikimedia.

China and the United States have both ratified the Paris climate agreement. In Hangzhou, on the eve of the G20, China greeted arriving American President Obama with the announcement. Together, the two nations account for 38% of the world’s carbon emissions. The Paris agreement’s goal is to hold global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). Will Christiana Figueres, chief architect of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and her words delivered on 6 April 2016 to the University of Massachusetts Boston at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, inspire the world to build a better future?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

 

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February 5, 2016
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Stellar(ator) Performance

W7-X stellarator may help to build a better world. Image: wikimedia commons.

The world just took another step towards the future. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute invited Chancellor Angela Merkel (who has a doctorate in physics) to press the start button on the stellarator W7-X that someday may produce nuclear fusion. A cleaner, renewable, more advanced form of energy than nuclear fission, this new form of atomic energy is also being pursued by ITER in France. While ITER uses the Russian design tokamak approach, Germany’s program uses an American design stellarator. Whichever method proves to be chosen for fusion energy, the future of this new power may draw environmental and social dimensions from the Atomic Energy Act.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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January 14, 2016
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Sunny Forecast?

“Sun mask of Apollo” by Johann Melchior Dinglinger. Source: Google Cultural institute, and wikimedia commons.

Solar technology continues to develop, and scientists are once again looking at the Sahara Desert for opportunities to generate, store, and distribute power. African visions are diverse, regarding Desertec (which some term green exploitation) and related initiatives that hold promise. Will other sunny desert areas of the world follow suit? Solar power is the preferred means of providing electricity in space, including celestial habitations such as the International Space Station. Will proposals for global solar power from space be developed in the vision of Glaser, holder of patent US3781647 A? Or might atomic energy developments, including ITER, create sun on earth with nuclear fusion? United Nations Climate Change conference, COP21, set standards for a balanced environment. What advances in energy are needed to build a better world?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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January 6, 2016
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Building a Better World: Energy

Phonons in action. Image: wikimedia commons.

The identification of phonons in 1932 by Igor Tamm gave rise to harmonic oscillators. With implications for thermodynamics as well as quantum computing, phonons are shaping the future. Design of cell phones and solar panels is also heating up, according to Professor Gang Chen of MIT. The discovery of atomic energy transformed the world in dramatic ways. What is the future of phonons in energy and the environment?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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August 9, 2015
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Energy and Peace: Building a Better World

Japan released doves in the sky in a ceremony on August 6, 2015 in Hiroshima, calling for “the necessity of world peace.” Image: Nevit Dilmen, 2011, wikimedia commons.

August 9, 2015. Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-moon urged: “I wholeheartedly join you in sounding a global rallying cry: No more Nagasakis. No more Hiroshimas.” Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe led a ceremony of remembrance and resolve, on August 6, 2015, with representatives from 75 countries, including US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, proclaiming: “Seventy years on I want to reemphasize the necessity of world peace.” Mr. Abe, whose security bills face some public opposition, and Hiroshima Majoy Kazume Matusi released doves in a declaration of peace. The Atomic Energy Act, instated after the world realized the tragedy of using such energy as a weapon, in Hiroshima August 6, and Nakasaki on August 9, 1945, may offer a path to peace. Section 11. (b) “Use for Inventions for Research” and (e) (1) “Patent Compensation Board” could spur beneficial development, guided by Section 1 (a) stating that atomic energy “be directed toward improving the public welfare, increasing the standard of living, strengthening free competition in private enterprise, and promoting world peace.”

Eugene Hoshiko. “Calls to abolish nukes on Nagasaki bombing 70th anniversary.” AP: The Big Story, August 9, 2015. http://bigstory.ap.org/urn:publicid:ap.org:075d32e4a04d41fe990f93acefb771c3

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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May 6, 2015
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Earthquakes: Failure, and Success

“Good Friday Earthquake at Turnagain Arm.” Image: wikimedia.

Nepal, struck by a 7.8 earthquake, has suffered a predictable disaster: we know where earthquakes will occur, just not when. Uncertainty and danger have occasioned innovations in history including atomic energy, and space exploration. Improved construction standards proved successful during Chile’s 2010 temblor. Could a recent proposal by Jeffrey D. Sachs, of the Earth Institute, for disaster insurance lead the way to a safer future for the world? Can failure lead to success?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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January 12, 2015
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Failure Powers Success

IBM ThinkPad Laptop. Image: wikimedia.org.

In a throw-away culture, more than 50 million laptop batteries are discarded every year. Trash could hold treasure, because 70% of these cells have enough power to light an LED bulb for four hours each day — for a year. Science continues to develop new energy sources ranging from improved hydroelectricity to atomic energy, solar and beyond. But using what we have now is also important. In India, 400 million people struggle without reliable electricity. IBM’s Smarter Energy Group and RadioStudio are testing the laptop battery program, harnessing the power of failure to create success.

Vikas Chandan, IBM Research India. “A Lighting Solution using Discarded Laptop Batteries.” http://www.dgp.toronto.edu/~mjain/DEV-UrJar-2014-PPT.pdf

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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December 23, 2014
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Fracking’s Future?

Triassic sandstone, near Stadtroda, Germany. Image: wikimedia commons.

New York State has moved to ban hydraulic fracturing, commonly referred to as “fracking,” despite possessing considerable resources in the Marcellus Shale formation. The landmark decision may inspire many countries that have begun exploration of shale energy. Parallels, and some precedents, might be drawn from sections of the Atomic Energy Act.

For more:

Esch, Mary. “New York to ban fracking; environmentalists cheer.” December 17, 2014. Associated Press. http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/york-move-prohibit-fracking-27666988

World Shale Energy: http://www.eia.gov/analysis/studies/worldshalegas/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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October 21, 2014
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Fire in a jar

Thomas Edison’s invention. Image: wikimedia commons.

It was on this day, in another year, that Thomas Edison declared successful the quest to capture fire in a jar. Later, Einstein would further explore the Promethean. How have things changed, since, and as a result of, October 21, 1879?

For a first-hand account of Edison’s lab demonstration:

http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/1021.html#article

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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August 6, 2014
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August that Changed the World

Image: wikimedia commons.

It was a slow but important correspondence. On August 2, Albert Einstein wrote a letter from his home on Nassau Point, Peconic, Long Island, New York. On October 19, United States’ President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent a reply from the White House, Washington, DC, responding: “My dear Professor: I want to thank you.” The year was 1939 and atomic energy was the subject of exchange between professor and president. Consequences of the discovery were soon felt. Another August, 1946, advanced the Promethean quest. The Atomic Energy Act attempted to regulate energy of unprecedented power for purposes including “promoting world peace.” Has that goal succeeded? What can this generation do?

For the Einstein-Roosevelt letters:

http://www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/psf/box5/a64a01.html

For the Atomic Energy Act:

U.S. Code, Title 42, Ch. 23, “Atomic Energy Act of 1946,” also available in Building the World (2006), Volume 2, pages 491-514.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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