Thorium Plasma Battery – Bunk

I’m always interested in new technology but every once in a while something so obviously bogus hits the net that it clogs the channels of interesting stuff with rubbish, such is the current line of crap surrounding thorium plasma batteries.

The line is that someone spent twelve years developing these nuclear batteries which supposedly last five to ten to twenty to thousands of years depending upon which version you read, and then the DOD sucked it up.  Anywhere from two to half a dozen people bit the dust to cover it up.

No where in any of these postings is there an actual explanation of how these batteries are supposed to work, although there is some cross pollination between them and the so called element 115 space craft Bob Lazar talks about and also between the very real radioisotope thermal electric generators that work by using thermocouples to convert the heat from the radio-active decay of plutonium 238 (and they are experimenting with a few other isotopes) into electricity. These batteries are touted as green because they supposedly use thorium and the articles say they emit the same radiation as a cell phone.

There is so much wrong with the information given I can’t believe a conspiracy theory has actually sprung up around this.  First, thorium is a fertile material like uranium 238, and it is radioactive, although with a half-life of 14 billion years, thorium-232 is not highly radioactive.  By contrast Uranium 238 has a half-life of 4.5 billion years and therefore is slightly more radioactive but not by much.  Uranium 238 is what is referred to as “depleted” uranium, after the small percentage (approximately .7%) of U-235 is removed.

The type of radiation emitted by thorium 232 and uranium-238 is the same, both are alpha emitters.  Some of the daughter elements are beta emitters and have very short half-lives. Both uranium-238 and thorium-232 can absorb a slow neutron to become a fissile isotope and thus be used as nuclear fuel.  Neither are “green” in any common sense of the word.  Thorium is very difficult to make weapons grade material from so it is somewhat preferred as a fuel from an anti-proliferation standpoint.  The type of radiation emitted is entirely different than a cell-phone.  Cell phones emit radio frequency electromagnetic waves, non-ionizing radiation.  Thorium and uranium both emit ionizing alpha particles that can damage DNA and cause cancer.  Being in a plasma state would not diminish the radioactivity of thorium.

If such a thing as a plasma thorium battery exists, which I seriously doubt, there would be nothing green or safe about it.  If anyone knows the theoretical method of operation of these batteries I’d love to hear it though I suspect it will be just as looney as the rest of the claims surrounding it.

Second “Law” Of Thermal Dynamics

One thing that all free energy, perpetual motion, and energy from the ether or zero point energy schemes have in common is that they all break the second law of thermal dynamics and are generally therefore considered impossible.

But there is growing evidence that the second law of thermal dynamics is more like a general rule than a law and can be broken under certain circumstances, which often seem to involve small systems over short periods of time, or biological systems.

This article from Physics World describes one experimental system in which entropy is consumed rather than produced.  There are examples of biological systems that seem to defy the second law of thermal dynamics, and there are experimental chips containing arrays of nano-diodes that take background radiant heat energy which at room temperatures falls in the terahertz regions, rectify it and produce small amounts of electricity, these chips defy the second law of thermal dynamics creating order from disorder.

Some say that these examples really do not defy the second law of thermal dynamics because the Earth isn’t a closed system, and it is possible the universe may not be a closed system, it may in fact be infinite, and if this is the case, then what limitations does the second law of thermal dynamics really impose on human activities?

Clearly the universe has some degree of order, and unless the laws of physics changed since it’s creation, the universe must be infinite.  We don’t live long enough to observe the universe as a whole winding down, we can only look at things and assume they are in various states and in the process of winding down.

I see evidence much to the contrary.  What I see when I look at the universe, is a universe that is likely teaming with life, and life appears to seek to add order, and life appears to be expanding and increasing.  As intelligent species throughout the universe continue to expand and to improve their technology and expand their ability to willfully change their environment, I think this points to the possibility of quite a different picture than a heat death in our distant future.  It also points to the possibility for our own technology developing down quite a different line than simply consuming greater and greater amounts of energy and creating greater and greater quantities of waste.

Time

I’d like to know the details of the machine referred to in this article.  It refers to using an electromagnetic field to contort space-time, enough to change the observed speed of an electric fan.

Often I hear people ask the question, if time travel is possible, where are the time travel tourists?  It may be possible but risky and expensive, keeping it out of the realm of tourism, but perhaps not out of the realm of more practical applications like the solution to where do you go when you’re sun is running low on fuel, expanding, and cooking your home world.  To another solar system perhaps, or perhaps into the past.

I think that the greys maybe time travelers from the future escaping just such a scenario.  I’m assuming if you’re reading this you’re familiar with the net-lore surrounding the “greys”, usually accepted as “alien” beings from another star system coming here to make a hybrid race, to replace us.  The television series “V” really played that one up to the max.  I wish NetFlix carried it, would love to re-watch that series.

It makes a lot more sense to me if the aliens are time travelers from our distant future.  Think about it. Hominid creatures that evolved independently on another planet might be very similar to us functionally.  There are many examples on Earth where independent creatures arose that were very similar owing to their environmental niches being very similar.  But the likelihood of an independently evolved alien hominid being being genetically similar enough to us to create a hybrid is near zero.  Not only would the genetics be likely vastly different, but also the cellular machinery that interprets the genetics is probably quite different. Creating a hybrid with a distant ancestor?  That would seem a much more doable proposition.  The genetics would be similar enough to have a chance at a viable combination.  The cellular machinery would know how to correctly interpret the genetic material.

The reason the greys might be grey and have those big black eyes might be the same as the reason they would want to come back in time and create a hybrid.  Consider, if humanity does manage to get it’s collective shit together and manage this planet in a sustainable manner, well sustainable so long as the Sun holds out and civilization goes on, continues to advance technologically, and eventually develops time travel.  The sun is eating up it’s hydrogen, still billions of years from being out of hydrogen, none the less, it’s starting to expand and it’s peak output is now in the near infrared rather than visible range.

Suppose plant life adapted to this new spectral output by evolving something equivalent to chlorophyll which instead of working as a two-step process capturing a red and blue photon, instead used a three or four step process using near infrared photons.  No longer having much need for visible light the plants mostly reflect it non-selectively appearing shades of white or grey to our eyes, but having pigments that selectively absorb in the near infrared, appear colorful and vibrant to beings having vision in that region.  The Sun being overall dimmer in the visible region, almost no ultraviolet output, no need for pigments that provide protection in these areas.  So these greys over hundreds of millions of years adapt.  They develop skin without much in the way of pigments active in our visual spectrum.  They develop large eyes capable of taking in more light and focusing effectively at longer wavelengths.

They’ve adapted as far as they can.  Plant growth is dying off.  Two little light of sufficient energy to grow efficiently. Too much atmosphere has been lost into space, it is now at sea level what it is like at 14,000 feet now.  Little can grow under these conditions and an entire race must abandon ship that is the Earth in the distant future.  But where to go?  Suppose they’ve developed time travel that can move the masses efficiently, but interstellar travel is just not sufficiently developed to transfer an entire planets population.  So they decide to go back into the distant past, and it makes sense to go back as far as they can but to where there is some industrial infrastructure and population they can exploit to jump start the continuation of their civilization.

They have to undo adaptations that will no longer be appropriate.  They need eyes that see in the present day peak spectral output of the sun, what is visible spectrum to us.  They need skin with pigments that protect them from our present day Suns ultraviolet output.  They need to blend in so we don’t rebel and kill all of them upon arrival.  They do so by creating a hybrid race which preserves desired genetic traits from their own time and exploits desirable traits more suitably adapted to our time.

They don’t have to worry about messing up their own past, because the multiverse has created a new world in response to their arrival here.  You see, in their past, nobody came back from the future. We differ from their ancestors, and our history differs from their ancestors in this way.  By going back into the past, they have created an entirely different timeline.  Still, the genetics are the same and so the compatibility is there for creating a hybrid race.

For us, the natives to this time line this isn’t a good thing.  It’s rather like what happened to native Americans when the Europeans came to the North American continent, it was not good for the indigenous population.  They’ll exploit us to get the industrial capacity they need in place, and then when we’re no longer needed, we’ll be culled to make room for their own hybrid race.

None of this can happen unless time travel is possible in a practical sense.  Exploiting a wormhole or black hole, is probably not a practical option for achieving time travel because there are none convenient, even if it were possible for us to transverse one without being crushed in the process.  So that gets me back to, I’d really like to know if there is anything real to the above article.

getMediumImage.php

This is an interesting little bit of something that showed up in the scoop mark left behind when they took a scoop of Martian soil with Curiosity.

One can only speculate on what that is.  A white mineral in the soil?  A piece of bone, or tooth, or shell?  NASA is only saying that they believe it is native to Mars and not something that fell off the craft.

Back from the Dead…

I started this blog on Blogger.com. Google ate it and discontinued FTP Publishing.  They offered two replacements, neither of which worked because they’d require me to host on Blogger.com which would force me to change the location of my blog and leave me at the mercy of Google who could discontinue anytime they don’t approve of my content.  Not acceptable!

Now this is using WordPress on my own site.  The downside is that any videos I had didn’t make it across the import process.  So some cool stuff is gone.

Mars Surface Life on the Margins

Thirty two years ago, Viking landers conducted three experiments to test for life on the surface of Mars, the results were inconclusive.

The gas exchanger (GEX) experiment attempted to detect changes of the makeup of gases in a test tube indicative of biological experiments.

The labeled release (LR) experiment provided radioactively labeled nutrients for biological organisms and then detected gases emitted by these organisms.

The pyrolytic release (PR) experiment attempted to detect the uptake of radioactive carbon by cooking it out of potential organisms.

For these experiments there was also a control in which the soil was first precooked at 320F to sterilize it. If the sterilized control sample produced the same test results, non-biological activity must be responsible.

The GEX and PR experiments provided positive results, but the control experiment was also positive indicating some non-biological process was at work.

The LR experiment provided positive results for the non-sterilized sample but not for the sterilized sample. When the labeled nutrients were first injected there was a rapid release of labeled gas, but subsequent injections of nutrients caused an initial decrease followed by a slow rise. The decrease was unexpected causing the results to be interpreted as ambiguous.

It was believed that the experiments were the result of unusual soil chemistry involving super oxides and materials which could catalyze some of these results. The exact chemical reactions that could explain these results are unknown. There are life forms that utilize a mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide, H2O2 in their cellular fluids which could produce exactly the results seen in the Viking life experiments. On Earth the soil bacterium Acetobacter Peroxidans is such an example. This article on Mars Daily provides additional details.

The Phoenix lander did not find unusual soil chemistry. The soil it found would be friendly to life, so much so that they say you could grow asparagus in it (but not strawberries because it is somewhat alkaline).

In 2004, Methane and Ammonia were detected in the atmosphere of Mars. Because methane and ammonia are not stable in the Martian environment, something has to be replenishing it. Known mechanisms are either volcanism or biological processes. No active volcanoes have been detected on Mars. In 2005, Vittorio Formisano, chief scientists for the ESA Mars Express Planetary Fourier Spectrometer, found formaldehyde in the martian atmosphere at levels that he believes are too great to be explained by volcanic origin.

Rather than being omnipresent, life may exist in discrete niches on the surface of Mars where atmospheric pressure is unusually high allowing liquid water to exist during the warm season. The average atmospheric pressure is between 6-9 millibars depending upon the season but may approach 10 millibars in low lying locations.

At 10 millibars, the boiling point of water is 45F, so in the depths of some of the craters and trenches there is the potential for liquid water to exist for at least part of the Martian year. Phoenix also found a salt in the soil and this would extend the temperature window over which water may remain a liquid.

What the Phoenix lander failed to find in the Martian soil is fixed nitrogen and organic carbon compounds. On Earth, there are some bacteria capable of fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere and some which are capable of photosynthesis. The Martian atmosphere is only about 3% nitrogen but this may be sufficient for properly adapted microbes.

The argument is also made that high levels of UV light would sterilize the surface, however, bacteria present on the surface of equipment we left on the moon were found to be viable after being exposed to direct sunlight in the lunar environment for a year and since our moon is closer to the Sun than Mars and has no atmosphere at all, the UV levels reaching the surface are even higher than on Mars.

Bacteria in nuclear reactors have evolved that survive high levels of neutron and gamma radiation and have even evolved a form of melanin that can absorb and utilize energy present in gamma rays for the organisms energy needs.

It is not inconceivable that organisms on Mars may have evolved with pigments capable of protecting them from UV radiation and even utilize this energy for their own biological purposes.

Based upon this conjecture, I searched ESA photographs from Mars Express of locations below average terrain elevation, having the potential for liquid water, for anything which may be of biological origin and found items of interest.

Nepenthes Mensae

Mars Nepenthes Mensae

Note the dark coloration tends to diffuse out of a central area but does not correspond directly with geological objects, rather it tends to flow over everything but only below a certain critical depth.

Mamers Valles

Mars Mamers Valles

Here in Mamers Valles we see a similar discoloration, and again, it seems to flow out from the center rather than being blasted and splattered, with diffuse but fairly well defined borders.

Maunder Crater

Mars Maunder Crater

This sure looks like a colony of something. It has a strong resemblance the things grown on bread that I’ve left sitting too long in the cupboard. Nasa describes these features as Barchan dunes, but that doesn’t explain why they are so sharply contrasted in color to surrounding features. Gullies along the upper side of the trough in the center of the crater are believed to have been caused by liquid water.

Gusev Crater

Mars Gusav Crater

The hairs or filamentary structures present are interesting. I believe I heard someone from NASA suggest these were dust devil trails while totally neglecting to indicate why they only formed over the dark material and did not displace the lighter material in a similar manner. I suppose it could be argued that the darker material absorbed more sunlight and provided more heat for the formation of dust devils. The material has the appearance of something biological in nature even if dust devils distributed it.

Deuteronilus Mensae

Mars Deuteronilus Mensae

I have lightened this image considerably because in it’s original form the dark material was so dark that detail below it was obscured and you couldn’t see the apparent flow and variability in color and saturation. Note how the flow seems to be semi-radial outward from the center rather than linear as one might expect if this were simply wind blown dark material. This resembles more an organism arising at one spot and them propagating outward.

Noctis Labyrinthus

Mars Noctis Labyrinthus

The colors here suggest multiple colonies of different organisms with quite different pigments. The patterns of rocks to the lower right look like something in a flood plain where mud has washed up around them. The thickest deposits of pigmented material appears to center around a crack in the crust. Perhaps there are nutrients or organisms that were brought up from depths at this location. It’s impossible to eliminate some interesting non-biological chemistry here but it sure reminds me of some of the colorful bacterial colonies around Yellowstone hot springs. Those bacteria are thermophiles that are adapted to hot water but the patterns seem very similar.

Hebes Chasma

Mars Hebes Chasma

Hebes Chasma is extremely interesting anyway you want to look at it. There is no inflow or outflow, no surrounding debris field. Where did this chunk of crust go? The feature in the center also is raised. The presence of the central plateau is unique to this structure. This is about 8000 meters deep.

I believe there is a combination of mineral and biological processes responsible for the pigmentation in this structure. You can see some pigments follow geological structure very cleanly, but others appear to be a more diffuse substance overlying multiple structures.

The 8000 meter depth would allow for higher pressures which in turn would allow for water to remain liquid. The reflection off of the walls would tend to amplify heat and the dark pigments would also tend to capture more of the suns energy resulting in warmer temperatures conducive to liquid water.

Juventae Chasma

Mars Juventae Chasma

This looks more like a terraced Chinese rice field than something you would expect to find on Mars. The terraced walls suggests erosion of sedimentary rock, but for sedimentary rock to form on that scale would require huge amounts of water over a long period of time. Or maybe it’s an alien strip-mine.

What actually caught my interest is the green area near the bottom of the image. It bears a strong resemblance to the algae growth.

Crater Ice

Mars Crater Ice

And I’ll close with this image cropped from a frozen lake in a Martian crater. This is cropped from a much larger image to show a feature at the north end of the frozen lake where it appears to me to be partially thawed, and where it appears dark blue green colonies of something are growing at the borders. There also appears to be some lighter greenish colonies of something on or below the ice.

That’s my case for life on the surface of Mars.

The Evolution

I was thinking about a little tiny piece of the universe today of which I have a particular degree of familiarity because I worked for the local telephone company for 17 years between 1978 and 1995, and my mother worked for the telephone company in 1947. She worked as an operator when they had cord-boards to connect customers to their destination telephone numbers.

Manual operator connections of telephone calls were replaced with automated mechanical technology, first panel and step-by-step switches, where dial pulses directly moved selectors and there was really no intelligence built in to the hardware.

Later #1 and #5 cross-bar switches where the functions were more divided and abstracted and there was some degree of intelligence built-in but it was a wired intelligence that couldn’t be changed except by physically re-wiring the switch.

Later then program controlled mechanical switches, like the AT&T / Western Electric #101 ESS, 2BESS, #1 and #1AESS, and GTE / Automatic Electric’s #2 and 2B ESS. These operated on the basis of stored programs that could be reprogrammed changing the functionality of the hardware that the computer controlled.

Then computer controlled digital switching hardware, #4ESS, #5ESS, DMS100/200s, etc. These replaced mechanical switching hardware with digital electronic switching hardware controlled by computers. The digital hardware was more reliable, versatile, smaller, much more efficient in terms of energy usage, but what it could do was still constrained by the physical hardware design.

Now we are seeing soft switches in which rather than controlling switching hardware, computers are emulating it. Since the hardware doesn’t physically exist, besides programmable I/O interfaces, it is emulated by computers running software that behaves like physical hardware, the flexibility of this generation of switch is enormous since virtually every aspect of the emulated hardware is programmable. Soft switches are extremely cheap and energy efficient since the only real hardware is the computer doing the emulation and I/O hardware interfaces, everything else is software.

So what we’ve seen in the evolution of telephone switching is an evolution from biological entities, humans, with their human intelligence controlling their physical body to complete physical circuit connections to make calls, to the replacement of that body with a machine, physical hardware, overtime artificial intelligence was added to the machine and hardware replaced by that intelligence emulating what used to be physically implemented in hardware.

I’m really writing about this not to draw specific attention to telephone company switching technology but rather to provide an example of what I think is a general trend.

Humans invent something, a way to communicate for example, a telephone. They first implement it with minimal hardware and relay to a large degree upon human intelligence and physical labor for the functionality of what we have invented.

Then over time we replace the labor with mechanical labor; and then we eventually replace the intelligence with artificial intelligence; and then we replace a good portion of the machine and labor with intelligence.

I think there is a general trend where pure thought, intent, ‘The Word”, was the prime mover of the universe, to where it moves through a physical energy intensive phase, and then back eventually to where it is once again driven by information and intent, “The Word” all over again.

While the example I just provided was relating to telephone technology, I can see it in so many other areas, for example, travel, at first by foot, and then we learn to harness the power of domesticated animals, and then various natural forces, the wind, and then we build machines that fly; all of this is very energy intensive; but then we develop the Internet and we virtualize much of what used to be done physically.

Music has art of various forms have take a similar path; and although much of it is created physically, it is displayed, sold, and enjoyed to a large degree virtually, with nothing more than information being moved.

It seems that where we might go on a spiritual plane; we are also trying to get to on a physical plane, but eventually that seems to be a situation in which everything is connected, information, thought, non-local, instant, there seems to be some kind of a circle to the evolution of everything rather than being a linear path.

As physics explores the subquantum realm and hyperdimensions and multiple parallel universes, maybe an infinity of universes, a multiverse, it seems clear these trends that affect every aspect of our reality are going to continue. I feel like we are just on the verge of entering that reality that was portrayed in one episode of Star Trek, The Next Generation, in which The Traveler took the Enterprise into a place so distant and different than thoughts created reality; I’ve experienced elements of this myself though some might dismiss it as mere psychosis, but I really feel like we’re making a consensus entry into that reality and the potential seems unlimited.

CERN Caused China Quake, Chile Volcano?

All over the Internet one can find articles suggesting that a spray of anti-quarks from CERN caused the Chile volcano and the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in China.

To be sure CERN is a powerful collider and as man-made devices go is capable of concentrating an extreme amount of energy into a very small space and time. Even so, the amount of energy that CERN, or that anything man-made represents is so tiny compared to a volcanic or large seismic event that short of magic there is essentially no possibility that this is the case. Great earthquakes and volcanoes existed before we built any particle colliders.

A week prior to the explosion of Mt. St. Helens, I went with some friends to a location on Spirit Lake to photograph the mountain shooting off steam. We were around 15 miles or so from the mountain. The area was lush with vegetation and wild life.

A week later the mountain blew up and as it happened a news helicopter flew over the exact spot that we had parked. I recognized it only by the geography, the very highway we had taken was broken up, not a living thing was left, only a lifeless gray moonscape, and this fifteen miles from the volcano.

People really need to see something like that in order to really understand the scale of energy involved in natural events. It is a scale that is off the extreme end of what is familiar to humans.

The largest underground thermonuclear test at Amchitka produced a 7.0 magnitude quake, the recent Earthquake in China was a magnitude 7.8, nearly ten times as powerful. Hopefully this provides some indication of the relative scale of human verses natural energies.

I can’t rule out new formerly unknown physics, however, for an large Earthquake to occur where two plates are colliding, the same process that formed the Himalayas, or an existing, known to be active volcano on the Pacific ring of fire, to erupt, is not unexpected or strange.

There are to be sure some “strange” things happening on this planet recently, but these two events require no unnatural explanations, they are well within what is normal for the geophysical processes of the regions involved.

Arthur C. Clarke Passed

Arthur C. Clark has passed away yesterday at age ninety of breathing trouble. I feel a sense of loss much like I did when Isaac Asimov died in 1992, and that seems like just yesterday.

Arthur C. Clark and Isaac Asimov are two people who, through their writings, instilled a sense of wonder and curiosity about the universe that has stayed with me through the decades. There were only a handful of people who affected my view of the world more; and the others were people I knew personally.

I hope that some day we can stop fighting over power, wealth, and limited resources and realize the potential that I believe Arthur saw in the human race and I still believe exists. However, to realize such a future, it takes thinkers and visionaries and I don’t know how we are going to be able to teach our children to think and feel and be open to the possibilities the universe has for us when we have television, politicians, and fifteen second sound bytes to contend with.