May 6, 2005

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Coastal Maine

Energy IV   

This is the FOURTH of FIVE efforts to profile global energy issues as they relate to similar challenges with water, climate, and food.

In this issue

  • Bob Mankoff 1% Makes the Difference
  • Energy - Water Power - read it now
  • Water photographs - view them now
  • Diane Ackerman - read now
  • Subscribe to KF News - sign up now
  • Send KF News to a friend - send now

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    1% Makes the Difference

    Bob Mankoff, New Yorker cartoon editor, researching humor as a brain function was interviewed by Mark Hurst of Good Experience.com, April 08, 2005

    "Q - What are you doing with the University of Michigan?"

    "It's a 3-year research project with their psychology department, using New Yorker cartoons to see how people process humor. My general idea is that humor shares its cognitive apparatus with 99% of other brain processes. The other 1% makes it look completely different.

    "But in cartoons, in humor, the conceptual blends combine things most people wouldn't think to blend. Say you imagine people getting into heaven, at Saint Peter's Gate, but then think, what if there was a toll... a toll on a highway... maybe there's EZPass in heaven. That's a cartoon.

    "The experience of humor is similar to the "ah-ha" moment of two things coming together. For humor, two things have to come together to produce the experience of laughter. Normal and abnormal; these things reconciled in a moment, and usually it's a normal situation violated in some way that we can tolerate. You have to have something normal that becomes abnormal, or something that looks abnormal and then become normal.

    "For humorists... such research is a forbidden area. The actual process comes from the unconscious. If they know about it, they won't be able to do it. It's the forbidden fruit. The more you think about it in this way, the less you're actually free to free associate."

    The other 1% makes the difference. That seems subtle but when you think about it our brains are loaded up with the routine stuff required for processing life as we know it. And sometimes, the differences that really make a difference are the very subtle shifts in perception or behavior. I find this a good way to think about thinking about what makes a difference when considering sustainability, or for that matter any other important life issues. .

    Book Link - The Naked Cartoonist by Bob Mankoff

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    Global Energy


    In last week's newsletter the subject of tidal power plants was introduced. This week I have given the subject added attention. Certainly it is not well known in this country but on a global scale it has enormous potential. The following selections represent a cross section of existing and proposed technologies to generate electricity from waves.

    Tidal Power
    The web site of Reslab in Australia offers a comprehensive review of types of tidal power generating systems. The illustrations below is a snapshot view of subjects they cover.

    "Tidal power utilises the twice daily variation in sea level caused primarily by the gravitational effect of the Moon and, to a lesser extent the Sun on the world's oceans. The Earth's rotation is also a factor in the production of tides. Tidal power is not a new concept and has been used since at least the 11th Century in Britain and France for the milling of grains."

           Click any illustration for information
       Ebb Generating System

        Bulb Turbine Rim Turbine Tubular Turbine

    Tidal Fence Tidal Turbine

    ResLab - Research Institute for Sustainable Energy
    Murdoch University, South St, Murdoch, Western Australia

    PDF Link - A Comprehensive Review of Tidal Power Systems
    Web Link - ResLab - Research Institute for Sustainable Energy

    Wave Energy Collection

    European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, Scotland
    A company called Ocean Power Delivery is developing a method of offshore wave energy collection, using a floating tube called "Pelamis". This long, hinged tube (about the size of 5 railway carriages) bobs up and down in the waves, as the hinges bend they pump hydraulic fluid which drives generators. Pelamis has a similar output to a modern wind turbine. The first full-scale pre-production prototype has been built and is being tested at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, Scotland. It is anticipated that future "wave farm" projects would consist of an arrangement of interlinked multi-machines connected to shore by a single subsea cable. A typical 30MW installation would occupy a square kilometre of ocean and provide sufficient electricity for 20,000 homes. Twenty of these farms could power a city such as Edinburgh.

    An Introduction to Wave Power
    Web Link - Introduction to Wave Power
    Pelamis: Ocean Power Deliver Limited
    Web Link - Pelamis
    Web Link - Ocean Power Deliver Limited

    Floating Power Station

    Britain is helping to fund the development of the world's first floating power station.

    Energy minister Brian Wilson has committed 1.67 million pounds of government funds to a 2.7 million pound project which he said will help Britain achieve its target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, blamed by many scientists for global warming.

    "Wave power has a huge part to play in our drive for renewable power. Our oceans are a major potential energy source and can lead to a new industry for the UK in which I am determined that we should be world leaders" said Wilson in a statement.

    The new off-shore generator from Inverness-based green power company Wavegen will supply enough electricity for 1,400 homes after it is launched next summer from a new marine energy testing centre to be built in Orkney, Scotland. The company built another station in Islay, Scotland (see picture). Britain's first commercial wave generator, Osprey (Ocean Swell Powered Renewable Energy) was destroyed by a summer storm in 1995.

    Web Link - get Full Story
    Web Link - get Company Info

    Limpet - Land Installed Marine Powered Energy Transformer

    Limpet uses the principle of an oscillating water column. The diagrams show how this works.

    In Scotland, around 12% of electricity comes from renewable sources. This has to rise to 18% by 2010 to meet a target that's been set by the Scottish Executive, whilst the aspiration is to generate 40% from renewable sources by 2020.

    Islay, Scotland Faroese, Scotland

    "Limpet (Land Installed Marine Powered Energy Transformer) is a shoreline ebergy converter sited on the island of Islay, off Scotland's west coast. The current Limpet device - Limpet 500 - was installed in 2000 and produces power for the national grid.

    "The turbines are carefully matched to the air chamber to maximise power output. The performance has been optimised for annual average wave intensities of between 15 and 25kW/m. The water column feeds a pair of counter-rotating turbines, each of which drives a 250kW generator, giving a nameplate rating of 500kW."

    "The Faroese power station is based on the oscillating water column technology successfully developed by Wavegen at its Islay plant. The key innovative feature is the use of tunnels cut into the cliffs on the shoreline to form the chamber which captures the energy."


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    More Water

    Coastal Maine

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    Diane Ackerman

    We Are All a Part of Nature

    "A film starts running across my mind's eye, accompanied by the sound of heartbeats and birdsongs. It contains my whole experience of Earth, including all the oceans I've floated on or swum under, the skies I've flown through, the lands I've walked upon, the humans and other animals I've known, lots of nature I've never witnessed firsthand but glimpsed in documentaries or read about, and the Earth seen from space.

    "Naturally, that film would take a lifetime to explore, because nature means the full sum of creation, from the Big Bang to the whole shebang. It includes: spring moving north at about 13 miles a day; afternoon tea and cookies; snow forts; pepper-pot stew; pink sand and confetti colored cottages; moths with fake eyes on their hind wings; emotions both savage and blessed; tidal waves; pogo hopping sparrows; blushing octopuses; scientists bloodhounding the truth; memory's wobbling aspic; the harvest moon rising like slow thunder; fat rainbows beneath spongy clouds; tiny tassels of worry on a summer day; the night sky's distant leak of suns; an aging father's voice so husky it could pull a sled; the courtship pantomimes of cardinals whistling in the spring with "what cheer, what cheer, what cheer!"

    "Sometimes we forget that nature also means us. Termites build mounds; we build cities. All of our being - juices, flesh, and spirit - is nature."

    From the book: The Best American Science Writing - 2004
    From an essay originally published in Parade Magazine

    Web Link - about Diane Ackerman w/ bibliography

    George Beggs 5/2005 - Feedback is welcome

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