the good, the bad and the silly

Dark Roasted Blend: Air Traffic Worldwide

Air Traffic Worldwide

This is a simulation over 24 hours. As you can see most traffic happens between US and Europe.

Frightening coolness.

Nuclear Power: Backyard Nuclear Reactor Should Be Ready to Ship by 2013

A recent interview with Hyperion CEO John Deal revealed that they have every intention of shipping their first product in June of 2013.

He also revealed a few interesting tidbits about their system including the following quote about the possibility of turning their fuel into a bomb:

Our fuel is very unique. It’s uranium hydride. UH3 is the chemical formula. Low-enriched, about 10 percent [uranium isotope]-235, the rest is U-238. By comparison, bomb-grade fuel is about 98 percent enriched.

On the problem of nuclear waste:

The waste that comes out of our reactor after powering 20,000 homes for 8-10 years is about the size of a football.

Frightening hotness. That’s about a 10″ sphere, so volume is about 600 cubic inches, or about 10 liters. The density of uranium hydride is 11.4 grams per cubic centimer, so we’re talking about roughly 100 kilos of uranium/plutonium/whatever mixture. I wouldn’t want to promise that you couldn’t build a bomb from one unit’s load, but I wouldn’t want to promise that you couldn’t…

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Team finds Earth’s ‘oldest rocks’

The material displays a banded iron formation – fine ribbon-like bands of alternating magnetite and quartz.

This feature is typical of rock precipitated in deep sea hydrothermal vents – which have been touted as potential habitats for early life on Earth.

“These ribbons could imply that 4.3 billion years ago, Earth had an ocean, with hydrothermal circulation,” said Francis.

“Now, some people believe that to make precipitation work, you also need bacteria.

“If that were true, then this would be the oldest evidence of life.

“But if I were to say that, people would yell and scream and say that there is no hard evidence.”

And they’d be right. But this is still pretty cool — what it says, at least, is that it’s not absolutely impossible for simple life-like stuff to have evolved that early. (Then of course the question arises even more than before: what took so long for the next steps?)

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