Building the World

January 12, 2015
by buildingtheworld
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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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June 19, 2013
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Fire in a Jar

 

 “The most tangible of all visible mysteries – fire.” Leigh Hunt.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

From Mexico’s Mixtec ritual of Fuego Nuevo, to Africa’s creation story of Kaang whose dictum regarding fire might be heard as one of the earliest energy environmental policy statements, human use (and misuse) of the volatile is one of civilization’s most significant developments — energy.  Atomic power, originally destructive in purpose,  became harnessed by common realization that opportunity and danger must be balanced. Richard Feynman, scientist on the Manhattan Project, later reflected on the responsibility of those who play with fire (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mn4_40hAA0+feature=endscreen). In the Atomic Energy Act, control of the new energy source included guidelines for patent. As global demand for cleaner, safer, renewable energy increases, innovations for “fire in a jar” will be part of the debate. Might new forms of energy be patented? What controls and public monitoring should be considered in the use of volatile power?

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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September 25, 2012
by zoequinn001
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Boeing B-29 turns 70!

The Enola Gay, from the Los Alamos National Laboratories at lanl.gov.

On September 21, 2012 the B-29 bomber has its 70th birthday. One of the most famous of these planes, the Enola Gay, which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, became part of the military in 1945 when it was accepted by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). While the debate still rages as to whether the use of the atomic bombs in the Pacific theater at the end of World War II was the right choice, it is clear that the Enola Gay is an important piece of American history. Starting in 1984 it has undergone bouts of restoration and exhibition, including a rather controversial show in 1995 at the Smithsonian. It now permanently resides in the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA. For more information of the Enola Gay and the development of the B-29 Superfortress see:
http://airandspace.si.edu/collections/artifact.cfm?id=A19500100000

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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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