A High-Wire Act

With all the talk of ways to achieve cheap, clean energy and all that given record oil/gas prices, overpopulation, global warming and so on, there is one issue I’ve not seen addressed: Electrical transmission.

The transmission of power over current power lines is incredibly inefficient. I’m no power-grid wonk, so I won’t pretend to know the the numbers, but suffice to say a lot of the potential energy created is lost before arriving in a house or business.

I’m sure there are a bunch of folks looking into this, and they probably don’t receive much press (or funding) just because increasing electrical transmission isn’t as a sexy as an electric car or emission-free solar power, for example.

But if we could just double our efficiency rates for electrical transmission, this buys us a lot:

  • It would cut our need for coal at a given plant by 50%. Wow!
  • One of the big complaints about atomic power is that they have to be located close to cities to maximize throughput. We could potentially build new A-plants further away and keep the same end-user wattage.
  • Sun and wind powers have negatives because the infrastructure required is big and ugly – as with atomic power, as far away from populations as possible. Right now, that’s a problem (have to get that electricity to the masses). With better power lines, this may be possible/more feasible.

Face it, we are working with basically the same method of AC power transmission George Westinghouse/Tesla worked on when they were battling Thomas Edison. Greatly enhanced, but same basic premise: Push power down fat wires; branch off on smaller wires for home/areas etc.

Obviously, the technology has greatly improved, but it’s the same issue as with the hard drive of today: You can dress it up, put pixie dust on it, but it’s still a Winchester drive. That’s one of the reasons why solid state drives (such as in Apple devices) are creating such interest/applause.

Oh, did I mention that solid state drives use a fraction of the power Winchester drives need?

I’m sure I’m missing something, but I never read anything about any radical overhaul of electrical transmission.

My guess is that – if you’re reading this – it’s probably the first time you’ve run across it, as well.

Celebrate Independence

Well, my independence celebration this weekend was to celebrate the removal of the horrible pink carpet from my office, and to show the existing hardwood floor. (Top picture: Before; Bottom Picture: After)

Yep, we should have pulled the carpet when we moved in eight years ago, but there’s always something else to do, right?

This looks like any easy job – hey, lose the carpet.

Not so easy.

Move – adjust the following:

  • Five computers and cables (two Windows; two Linux; one Mac). Lots of cables (video, audio, network and so on. Wow!)
  • Two stereo systems (full and compact)
  • Router, switch
  • Flatbed and slide scanners
  • KVM unit
  • Six bookcases (different sizes)
  • Two file cabinets

Lots of crap to move, but for a good cause (why not hardwood floors dammit!?).

Pink rug is gone; all hail the hardwood.