The rantings of a curious man in a very strange world

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Weekly Update

Another week of time and another week of progress towards my ultimate goals. As you all know I recently established a blog for the sake of sharing my ideas of the future, as well as helping them come into existence, so that is one step taken this last week. Beyond that not much direct progress has been made, we’ll see how next week turns out.

The Honey Comb

For those of you curious on how I plan on powering an underground utopia, this segment is for you. For the original designs solar panels were the dominate power source, as they would be able to use the space above ground normally used by buildings. But as our focus became stronger on zero human impact of the environment we began to look into alternate power sources. What we came up with is the use of duel power generators that both use water to generate electricity.

The first of the two generators would be geothermal, sending water from a reservoir down to be heated by thermal energy, which would turn the water to steam, forced through pipes upwards to move a turbine. This steam would condense back into hot water, which could then be used for bathing water and cooking, or allowed to cool, radiating heat into the buildings, providing heat without requiring electricity. Water allowed to cool could also be used, for bathing, drinking, cooking and farming, all of which would receive water by the downward flow of water condensed from steam. After being used for electricity and other utilities the water would then flow back to the generator room, where it would be filtered and flow back into a second geothermal well. A second boiling would cause the steam to rise through additional turbines and settle back into the reservoir, creating a full circuit in which we recycle nearly all the water, though we won’t know the efficiency until we try.

A second generator will also be working inside the generator room as an emergency system, supplementing our electricity and providing for lights in case of a main electrical failure. Two pools of water divided by a selectively permeable membrane allows water to flow between the bodies of water, but the smaller pool of the two has a higher concentration of solutes. The net water flow will attempt to create a balance between the pools, where both sides will have an equal percentage of solute. This balance will be worked towards, even if the bodies of water are not level with each other, when the side with a higher concentration of solutes has achieved a certain height over the other pool water will begin to fall through a second permeable membrane back into the lower pool. Selectively permeable membranes prevent large solutes from passing through; as a result the solutes would not be allowed to fall into the lower pool. An imbalance would be constantly in play, where water would always be moving around. Electricity could be generated from water pouring back into the lower pool as well as water movement through the membranes.

As of yet I have been unable to create a functioning generator of this type, due to a poor selection of adhesives, however each of the steps have functioned on their own, so that indicates that the entire system would work.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cyborgs Among Us

A term coined in 1960, a cyborg is a being with artificial and biological parts, we see them in fiction as a symbol of man’s dependence on technology, or the destruction of humanity at the hands of technology. Whether or not we will be destroyed by cybernetic weapons, I don’t pretend to know, but we have been creating real cyborg individuals, human and otherwise.


Currently we have few cases of real cyborgs, but they are undeniably awesome. For humans the installation of a mechanical appendage is almost exclusively to replace a missing limb, lost due to injury. Pacemakers and some hearing aids are minor forms of cybernetic implants along with bone and joint replacements. All of these you probably wouldn’t take notice of on another person, but what of the non medical cyborgs, those that fuel the blockbuster hits.
From what I can find out the United State’s government isn’t currently working on any cybernetic implants for military application on humans, though if you find anything to the contrary please comment with a link. What they are working on are cyborg insects, far less expensive than building a robot fly spy, they can implant controls into flying insects such as moths and beetles with the ability to relay sound and video recordings back to base.


In the next few years we may be seeing cybernetic implants for non medical purposes, performance enhancing implants may become an issue in sports as such things become more popular. Body modification culture has already begun to use electronics and mechanics to express their beliefs, I have no doubt that such body hacking will continue to grow. Electronic Implants for aesthetic purpose have only just recently become a reality but with new ways of interfacing the human body to our mechanical creations, new beautiful and possibly terrifying practices may grow out of this field.
The ability to perceive the things happening in front of you at a higher frame rate than our own eyes can process would be an amazing boon to artisans and doctors. A grounding line inside the body of an electrician might just be the difference between a tingling sensation and his body becoming a charred corpse. Fortifying the human skeleton to be more resistant to physical harm may become a procedure that cuts hospital costs across the world. Tomorrow is going to be fun.

(Sorry for the delay of Wednesday’s post, my family had a medical emergency and I was busy hanging out with the little guy. Everybody is mostly intact, so no worries.)

Toxic Food

The saying “buyer beware” has always upset me, this idea that it isn’t a company’s responsibility to make sure what they are selling will not harm those they are profiting from. A dynamic forms where the consumer is established as an asset within the profit margins of a company, calculated into how dangerous their product can be before losing too many customers to faulty or simply dangerous products. You can see this with cars, cigarettes and food, although it doesn’t feel right for any product, the calculated loss of consumers from food infuriates me the most. We have had to deal with salmonella poisoning in vegetables, mercury and lead in seafood, and brain rotting diseases from cows and guess what, today we have another problem with cows.


Currently there is debate concerning the use of antibiotics in meat. Pork and beef farmers need to treat sick animals with antibiotics, it is understandable and acceptable, but what has been happening is constant supplement of antibiotics in these animals’ diets. Farmers do this because it encourages growth in animals, so they can get more food faster and in turn make more money, the problem is that any antigens that survive will be immune to antibiotics. Because of a constant supply of antibiotics, the gene pool of everything plaguing the cows and pigs will be cleansed of weak, drug vulnerable populations, effectively making the bacon you had for breakfast into a factory for a mega-bug that will be immune to every antibiotic we can throw at it. Personally I’m not sure how the farmers who are practicing this can justify a super disease tomorrow with extra money today.


Alright, as tempting as it would be to pull the fear mongering card and try to scare everyone away from meat I do wish to give both sides of the story. Farmers say the restrictions that have recently been proposed for the use of antibodies would make it so any animals that succumb to sickness would be a loss on their profits, which I would imagine has always been the case. I’m sure that with the money they have they could have paid someone to come up with a better explanation. Ideally we won’t be facing a bovine born super virus, farmers will have to stop feeding healthy cows medicine and we will be able to trust the food industry a little more, personally I’m trying to find an alternative to depending on others for my food.
So for those of you who know of a reason why we should feed healthy cows medicine, please post a comment, even though I’m opposed to it I would like to hear the other side, I can hope that it will make a bit more sense than the current reasoning.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Top Ramen Torch

It was my intent to test the following two properties of a top ramen torch, duration and radius of illumination. The measuring tape and timer were ready, I had also made a crude but effective wire holder for the ramen block, but plans changed when the noodles didn’t catch on fire.

Even though what was expected did not happen does not mean today’s experiment was at all a failure, what it does indicate is that neither a match nor lighter can provide enough heat to meet the activation energy requirement that would have caused the ramen to burst into flames. Further tests involved the addition of olive oil and cooking oil however our sources of fire just didn’t have enough to start the torch. Although it would still be possible to ignite a block of ramen to test its duration and radius of illumination, we would require a much larger flame. Sadly I doubt I could get away with making a bonfire in my backyard.

In the end it seems that ramen can be used as a light source, it cannot however be lit without already having a large open flame to ignite said ramen. So for quick and cheap campfire entertainment, the burning of ramen can last for quite some time, but for those of you at home don’t rely on a top ramen torch to light your way.

Monday, July 19, 2010

This Week's Science 7/19/2010

After a weekend of dungeons and dragons, surprise grandparent visits and social drama ‘tis nice to get back to the basics, SCIENCE. This being our first week I thought we would start with something fun, lighting stuff on fire and robots. So let’s look at our schedule.


Not all of my home experiments may be this close to home, but this Tuesday we will be testing the emergency value of top ramen. While camping earlier this summer the rest of the Setter family discovered that the popular packaged food burns for an extended period of time compared to other camping foods, providing a light source that might be utilized in any light less situations you will find yourself in when a blackout, hurricane or zombie invasion rolls into your town. We will also be testing cooking supplies to get more out of your top ramen torch, so be ready for some unconventional cooking on Tuesday.


On the subject of cooking, does it ever bother you that the food we are eating could kill us because of a corporate fat cat cutting corners for a few extra bucks. Well my Wednesday rant will be on how much I hate what the free market has done with food quality, it worked getting us away from sub-par meat processing, but now that it driving our food quality down to the point where choosing brands is akin to determining which product has a lower amount of lethal chemicals, grah! Excuse me, I’ll save the rest for Wednesday, toxic food is getting me down.


For a more positive side of life in the future, yes the future, sometime recently it stopped being the present and now is the future. Cyborgs, we know them as cold, killing machines and humanities final hope in half a dozen doomsday scenarios, but we already have them walking among us. The Idea of adding artificial body parts to a living being is in no way new, but in the last ten years a whole slew of new cybernetic beings now walk, crawl and fly. Some of which you might never see, others that you might never even notice.


By the end of the week we’ll look to what I have accomplished in my own scientific mission, as well as a look into how I plan on powering an underground society on water, both hot and cold. If you have any ideas on the subject I especially encourage you to comment on Friday’s post, maybe what you come up with will surpass what my own efforts could ever become. Remember, science isn’t a spectator sport, and in most circles, not considered a sport at all, but what do they know?

Friday, July 16, 2010

How I'm Going to Save the World

Of all the crazy schemes I have considered for changing the world, this idea is probably one of the least expensive and most practical. At least I tell myself that. For the past five years I have been researching, planning and illustrating a design for a utopian society, not driven by laws or economy, but kept in check by the structures they live in.
Dubbed the “Honeycomb” these structures will be a series of hexagonal rooms arranged in a grid, meant to provide nearly one hundred people all basic necessities as well as luxuries only experienced by the top 1% of the world.

Why This Would Work

The reason this idea could be accomplished is the independence from modern societies this would enjoy. The structures would be built underground, in an area considered unfit for development and away from other human settlements. Water flowing through the baths and taps would be recycled within the community, eliminating the need to bring in fresh water from other sources, but occasionally supplemented by the sporadic rainfall the region we would build this is located.
After initial construction nature would be allowed to return above the honeycomb, countering one of society’s biggest burdens on nature, the use of space. This community would be self-sufficient, have little to no environmental impact and provide living space in an efficient way. With this project I hope to find a solution to starvation and over population, possibly addressing social and governmental issues as well once more progress has been made and the community has been formed.


I am going to post additional information on the actual site, my notes, concept art and maybe in the future, photos of the construction. Currently we are in the funding acquisition stage, but perhaps in a few months we can purchase the land and begin construction.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Last Blog Post

I'm afraid my friends, that it is time for me to retire. To all those who have followed me, I apologize that I am leaving you now. And to all you readers just joining, I must apologize even more, since you all are new readers.
Okay so this is my first post in this venue, not my last, however first posts are far less interesting than final posts. For those of you joining us, my name is Duncan Setter, at the time of writing this I lived in Portland Oregon for the past sixteen years of my life and expect to never live here again. Not out of contempt, nor disinterest, but I feel that my aspirations in life are best fulfilled elsewhere.
Aspirations such as improving the world, solving starvation, disease, over population, corruption, theft, murder, depression and the lack of adventure our world is suffering from. I doubt I will accomplish any of these in a single life time, but if no one tried, then such things would linger forever. This blog is my way of informing the world on my own progress towards such lofty goals, as well as a way to motivate others to join me in this monumental quest.