Author Topic: Episode #662  (Read 8703 times)

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Offline Steven Novella

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Episode #662
« on: March 17, 2018, 12:13:14 PM »
Forgotten Superheroes of Science: Brenda Miller
News Items: Stephen Hawking Dies, The Brain's Predictive Coding, Daylight Savings Time, Fusion in 15 years?
Who's That Noisy
Your Questions and E-mails: Duct Tape and Amelia Earhart
Science or Fiction
Steven Novella
Host, The Skeptics Guide
snovella@theness.com

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #662
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2018, 06:03:03 PM »
One big disadvantage of fusion power is that like all large-scale power generation it is centrally owned. People have to buy the power from a utility. Whereas with decentralized power (solar, wind) it's possible for homeowners to produce their own power. The inconsistency of sun and wind is solved by on-site storage. I agree with Steve that grid storage is likely far in the future. But Tesla sells solar panels (and solar roofing tiles) as well as a battery pack designed to go with them.

The cost of lithium batteries has dropped 73% from 2010 to 2016 according to Bloomberg.

And the Batteries in my 2018 Tesla Model 3 have significantly greater energy density than the batteries in my 2010 Tesla Roadster. Battery storage is here, now, and is affordable. Payback is slow here in the Pacific Northwest where we pay 7¢/kWh for electricity, but much faster in Maui, where they pay 38¢/kWh, and somewhere in between in CA.

Yes, we should continue research on fusion. Maybe in 30 years they'll figure it out, and in 50 we can have the entire grid switched over. In the mean time, solar and local storage can make a significant difference, but the utilities will fight it tooth and nail because if you're making your own electricity you don't need to buy it from them.
Daniel
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Online The Latinist

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Re: Episode #662
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2018, 06:40:17 PM »
Lithium ion batteries are not a feasible grid storage medium, in my opinion.  Lithium is a limited resource that will become increasingly rare and expensive even at currently-projected growth rates.
I would like to propose...that...it is undesirable to believe in a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true. — Bertrand Russell

Offline mddawson

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Re: Episode #662
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2018, 06:54:24 PM »
Re Central Australia's UTC+09:30:

From: http://www.abc.net.au/local/photos/2015/02/06/4175293.htm

Why are South Australia and Broken Hill on such an awkward time zone in the first place?

South Australia is 9.5 hours ahead of Co-ordinated Universal Time (UTC), one of only 7 places in the world on a half hour point from UTC as opposed to a full hour. The rest of NSW is UTC+10 for example, while Western Australia is UTC+8.

Dr Fred Watson, astronomer in charge of the Australian Astronomical Observatory, has called the SA time zone a "quirk of history". He said that because the prime meridian of the time zone goes right through Adelaide, it would make much more sense if the state's time zone was simply UTC+9.

The prime meridian is a line of longitude of 0 degrees. Time zones are determined by the number of degrees the location is off the prime meridian.

So time zones determined by geographical locations, and not by decisions of government?

Technically, yes, but states and countries can choose to follow certain time zones for convenience.

China, for example, keeps the same time zone across the entire country, an even UTC+8 across the board from Kashgar to Shanghai. For reference, that's an expanse of more than 5000 kilometres, a greater distance than between Sydney and Perth. The time difference between Sydney and Perth is three hours.
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Offline mabell_yah

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Re: Episode #662
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2018, 07:22:50 PM »
I second all the accolades for Stephen Hawking. It was just Wednesday that I listened to the BBC Comedy of the Week podcast. It was Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Hexagonal Phase. Dr Hawking provided the voice for the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Mark II. It's the only occasion I know where he performed a role (as opposed to playing himself). Quite ironic to hear his death announced just a few hours later.

Online bachfiend

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Re: Episode #662
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2018, 08:01:17 PM »
Lithium ion batteries are not a feasible grid storage medium, in my opinion.  Lithium is a limited resource that will become increasingly rare and expensive even at currently-projected growth rates.

Well, either more sources of lithium will be discovered as demand increases, or cheaper and more abundant substitutes will be discovered, as happened with europium.  It was once argued that colour television would never catch on, because the brilliant reds in displays required the rare element europium limiting the total number of colour TV sets to around 250,000 - and then cheap LEDs were developed.

One possible solution to a lithium battery based grid storage system is that if there’s going to be a large fleet of electric vehicles with lithium batteries, the electric vehicles could form part of the grid storage.  Many people park their cars for very long hours during daylight hours and don’t drive anywhere near the possible range of an electric vehicle.  The lithium batteries could be charged to capacity from solar power - with sufficiently numerous charging stations - and partially discharged into the grid at night, when demand is low.
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Offline Alex Simmons

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Re: Episode #662
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2018, 08:04:43 PM »
Battery storage is here, now, and is affordable.
Not where I am (Australia). Payback time extends well beyond the life of the unit.

It's still works out to be 2-3 times the cost of grid power. When battery prices halve again from current, then it'll begin to make a bit more sense.

Had this chat with a guy boasting about his low power bill after having Tesla Powerwall installed. He neglected to mention the cost of the money required to install it, which when amortised turns out on a quarterly basis meant he was now paying significantly more for his electrical power than he ever has. In his case his investment had negative ROI.

Solar however makes financial sense, provided you have the cash to pay for it and live in your own home with a decent roof and access to sun.

Renters and apartment dwellers are screwed.

There are no service providers here that do a deal like what Steve has, with no up front costs at all.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #662
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2018, 08:20:41 PM »
I don't advocate batteries for grid storage, but in Maui, where electricity rates are 38¢/kWh, it makes sense to have storage in your home if you cannot get grid-tied solar because the utility is fully subscribed and not accepting more home solar connections without a long waiting period.

Newfoundland, Canada, is another place with a half-hour time zone.
Daniel
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Online bachfiend

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Re: Episode #662
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2018, 10:23:13 PM »
Battery storage is here, now, and is affordable.
Not where I am (Australia). Payback time extends well beyond the life of the unit.

It's still works out to be 2-3 times the cost of grid power. When battery prices halve again from current, then it'll begin to make a bit more sense.

Had this chat with a guy boasting about his low power bill after having Tesla Powerwall installed. He neglected to mention the cost of the money required to install it, which when amortised turns out on a quarterly basis meant he was now paying significantly more for his electrical power than he ever has. In his case his investment had negative ROI.

Solar however makes financial sense, provided you have the cash to pay for it and live in your own home with a decent roof and access to sun.

Renters and apartment dwellers are screwed.

There are no service providers here that do a deal like what Steve has, with no up front costs at all.

I agree with you that currently, and perhaps forever, there’s little point in getting batteries and going off the grid permanently. 

I found that solar paid off very quickly.  I installed a 1.5 kW system 7 years ago for around $2,500 and then since then I haven’t had a single electricity bill, and I’m also in credit to over $2,000 (thanks to the very generous 40 cent a unit feedin tariff.  I recently upgraded to a 6.5 kW system (knowing that it results in my losing the 40 cent per unit - resulting in the excess electricity being paid at just 7 cents a unit, but I still expect to continue adding to the credit balance for much of the year).

I’m a landlord.  I also added 6.5 kW solar systems to the two rental properties I own.  I think that 1.  It makes it easier to rent the properties 2.  It’s my carbon offset for when I fly.
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Offline Alex Simmons

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Re: Episode #662
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2018, 11:27:56 PM »
Battery storage is here, now, and is affordable.
Not where I am (Australia). Payback time extends well beyond the life of the unit.

It's still works out to be 2-3 times the cost of grid power. When battery prices halve again from current, then it'll begin to make a bit more sense.

Had this chat with a guy boasting about his low power bill after having Tesla Powerwall installed. He neglected to mention the cost of the money required to install it, which when amortised turns out on a quarterly basis meant he was now paying significantly more for his electrical power than he ever has. In his case his investment had negative ROI.

Solar however makes financial sense, provided you have the cash to pay for it and live in your own home with a decent roof and access to sun.

Renters and apartment dwellers are screwed.

There are no service providers here that do a deal like what Steve has, with no up front costs at all.

I agree with you that currently, and perhaps forever, there’s little point in getting batteries and going off the grid permanently. 

I found that solar paid off very quickly.  I installed a 1.5 kW system 7 years ago for around $2,500 and then since then I haven’t had a single electricity bill, and I’m also in credit to over $2,000 (thanks to the very generous 40 cent a unit feedin tariff.  I recently upgraded to a 6.5 kW system (knowing that it results in my losing the 40 cent per unit - resulting in the excess electricity being paid at just 7 cents a unit, but I still expect to continue adding to the credit balance for much of the year).

I’m a landlord.  I also added 6.5 kW solar systems to the two rental properties I own.  I think that 1.  It makes it easier to rent the properties 2.  It’s my carbon offset for when I fly.

I'm not talking about battery to go off grid. I'm talking about something like a Powerwall + grid connection.

They simply cost too much installed to payback within their lifetime.

$11,000 installed for 13kWh capacity. Let's say that power is "free" solar power, IOW the difference to grid is wholly the grid price. That's generous since no solar system is "free".

Let's say you use all 13kWh, every day (I doubt all of it is actually available but let's be generous).

Let's say you get a full charge and discharge worth of energy every single day. It won't happen of course but let's be really generous.

That's 13kWh x $0.25/kWh = $3.25 of power cost savings per day (assuming cost of the solar power is zero, which of course it isn't).
Over a year that's 365 x $3.25 = $1,186

This thing cost over $11k to install. That means you are paying up front for power for the next 10 years. That's a really bad deal when the money could be earning good returns instead.

Now, let's put some realism into the actual usage:
i. days you are away and don't use much power
ii. days the sun doesn't shine and you don't get a full charge of battery
iii. The fact that during the day the solar panels would have to devote a majority of their capacity to charging the battery, else you won't get a full charge.
and so on...

I reckon if you actually used half of the 13kWh/day you'd be doing well. That means you are prepaying for 20 years worth of electricity. By which time of course your battery is probably not much good, it's efficiency is lousy and you need to replace it.

Offline Friendly Angel

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Re: Episode #662
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2018, 01:25:53 AM »
I watched the quantum chess video... Not worth your time.
Amend and resubmit.

Offline Tassie Dave

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Re: Episode #662
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2018, 03:02:58 AM »
Cara "There's not that many people in Australian Central Standard Time"
I wouldn't call almost 2 million people "Not that many"  ???

If you think a half hour difference is confusing, try living in a country that goes from 3 time zones to 5 time zones during DST


Offline Woofsie

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Re: Episode #662
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2018, 07:38:02 AM »
Anybody else find it really jarring to hear the German pronunciation of "Einstein" used by someone with a (west-coast?) American accent? I know it's the correct way to say it, since it's obviously a German name, but I've only ever heard native German speakers say it that way before so it sounded really weird to me. Especially because it was said like 5 times in a minute.   :-\

It's probably just me.  ::)
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Offline lucek

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Re: Episode #662
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2018, 07:59:42 AM »
Hey bob. You know construction on ITER is due to finish next year and the plant is designed to use 50megawats to produce 500megawats. If all goes well the 15 year timetable is pessimistic. That said the math works and a unit to generate electricity could break ground in the 2020s.
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Offline Igor SMC

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Re: Episode #662
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2018, 10:39:45 AM »
What do you guys think about the hypothesis that Stephen Hawking committed assisted suicide on Einstein's birthday?

Think about it...

1) He openly defended euthanasia ( https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jun/03/stephen-hawking-i-would-consider-assisted-suicide )
2) As choosing the day of your death is something extremely important and people tend to think very cautiously about it, people choose meaningful dates (Or just as soon as possible in case of unbearable suffering)
3) Einstein was by far, the most important scientist in his life. His theories and life work is heavily based on his ideas about relativity... So the argument that "Scientists have died in all the 365 days of the year, if it wasnt Einstein it would be Marie Curie, Darwin, etc " misses the point.
4) Another "coincidence" is the fact that he died with the same age as Einstein did, both at 76.

If you stop to seriously think about the feasibility of this hypothesis... the only thing that needed to be done, it was for him to communicate his family. Thats it. A very sick, euthanasia defending, Einstein loving person saying one sentence. You must also keep in mind the notorious humor that he had...

I want the help of the skeptics here so we can investigate further this hypothesis. What kind of information can we recover from the internet that increases ( Or decreases ) the odds? Maybe the frequency of his public appearances scheduled for before and after the date? ( I'm trying to find this information right now). As for the medical apparatus and staff needed to conduct such a thing.... he had everything in his house on the day of the death, as he had a permanent medical staff and equipment in his home. What kind of behaviour his family would have in case of planned Euthanasia? What would be his behavior in this case versus a "natural death" scenario? How can we effectively investigate this hypothesis?


( Another case of probable assisted suicide was David Bowie. He died 3 days after he published his Lazarus video on YouTube. Lazarus, 3 Days, Death. This would be a reference to the Bible)
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