Science fleeting thoughts

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Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Angua » Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:31 am UTC

I'm currently having to read a lot of papers for work. Thought I'd post here instead of spamming FT in General.

Emojis make it to scientific papers:
emoji science.PNG



EDIT : Also, you know you consume too much scifi when ever paper that mentions an outbreak of AI makes you worried about Skynet.
(Actually they mean Avian Influenza)
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Carlington » Thu Sep 22, 2016 1:12 am UTC

Emoji in new contexts give my linguistics nerd brain a happy feeling.

I have a proposal for a green energy solution:
Step 1: Excavate large vertical columns of earth from areas composed of low-density rock.
Step 2: Quarry similar volumes of much more dense rock or other material on the surface.
Step 3: Drop the dense material down the shafts from Step 1, extracting energy.
Step 4: Use the rock from Step 1 to build things.

The rock we drop is heavier, so we gain more energy from dropping it than we spend lifting the less dense material. We take the heavy rock from near the surface, so we don't have to raise it first. Why hasn't anyone done this yet?!? It's genius!
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Eebster the Great: What specifically is moving faster than light in these examples?
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Flumble » Thu Sep 22, 2016 2:29 am UTC

How about we move the idea a few kilometres upwards? Take rocks on the top of a mountain and bring them to the base of the mountain while extracting the gravitational potential. It saves you a lot of money on drill bits. :D

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby poxic » Thu Sep 22, 2016 2:41 am UTC

We're already taking down lots of mountains, aren't we? Mostly because the rock has shiny stuff in it, I think.
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby lorb » Thu Sep 22, 2016 11:44 am UTC

I believe most "taking down of mountains" happens for stuff that is not very shiny at all.
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Carlington » Fri Sep 23, 2016 1:47 am UTC

But then you have to move all the bits that turn dropping power into electric power up to the top of a mountain, instead of just building them at ground level. Plus, I bet there's a lot less mountain than planet, so you'll have less fuel that way.
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Eebster the Great: What specifically is moving faster than light in these examples?
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Eebster the Great » Fri Sep 23, 2016 7:55 am UTC

It's truly genius. You extract energy by swapping high elevation dense rock for low elevation light rock. You better patent this idea before someone steals it!

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby azurite » Sun Oct 02, 2016 4:19 am UTC

We would still need energy to transport the higher density rocks and depending how much actual energy you want to create, the differences in densities requires vastly different rocks. If we were looking at the common "rocks" (the types most people know) in mountains and such, the layers in the rock itself would vary in density, making it hard to find a practical source for this energy creating. Also, this would also damage the environment severely as if we haven't been damaging it already.

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Sableagle » Sun Oct 02, 2016 2:21 pm UTC

Maybe it'd be easier not to use rocks. Something with an even density would allow greater control of machine loading, electricity generation and so on. Something more fluid than large rocks would allow control of flow better, too, so sand may be a better choice. Then you still need a way to get sand up the mountain. If there was an easy way to use solar power and/or wind power to refresh your supply of sand or other ballast on high ground generally, you could then use that supply to generate electricity locally ... but how do you get sunlight and wind to move anything from a beach to the top of a hill?
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Eebster the Great » Sun Oct 02, 2016 4:47 pm UTC

azurite wrote:We would still need energy to transport the higher density rocks and depending how much actual energy you want to create, the differences in densities requires vastly different rocks. If we were looking at the common "rocks" (the types most people know) in mountains and such, the layers in the rock itself would vary in density, making it hard to find a practical source for this energy creating. Also, this would also damage the environment severely as if we haven't been damaging it already.

I feel like you are taking this idea way too seriously.

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Nicias » Sun Oct 02, 2016 5:14 pm UTC

Sableagle wrote:Maybe it'd be easier not to use rocks. Something with an even density would allow greater control of machine loading, electricity generation and so on. Something more fluid than large rocks would allow control of flow better, too, so sand may be a better choice. Then you still need a way to get sand up the mountain. If there was an easy way to use solar power and/or wind power to refresh your supply of sand or other ballast on high ground generally, you could then use that supply to generate electricity locally ... but how do you get sunlight and wind to move anything from a beach to the top of a hill?


Sunlight and wind already do this. It is called "rain".

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Sizik » Sun Oct 02, 2016 6:50 pm UTC

Nicias wrote:
Sableagle wrote:Maybe it'd be easier not to use rocks. Something with an even density would allow greater control of machine loading, electricity generation and so on. Something more fluid than large rocks would allow control of flow better, too, so sand may be a better choice. Then you still need a way to get sand up the mountain. If there was an easy way to use solar power and/or wind power to refresh your supply of sand or other ballast on high ground generally, you could then use that supply to generate electricity locally ... but how do you get sunlight and wind to move anything from a beach to the top of a hill?


Sunlight and wind already do this. It is called "rain".


... QED?
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby azurite » Sun Oct 02, 2016 10:36 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:
azurite wrote:We would still need energy to transport the higher density rocks and depending how much actual energy you want to create, the differences in densities requires vastly different rocks. If we were looking at the common "rocks" (the types most people know) in mountains and such, the layers in the rock itself would vary in density, making it hard to find a practical source for this energy creating. Also, this would also damage the environment severely as if we haven't been damaging it already.

I feel like you are taking this idea way too seriously.

Quite possibly, but it's kinder than saying, "This idea is fairly terrible."

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Carlington » Mon Oct 03, 2016 2:12 am UTC

Indeed. My dear little heart wouldn't be able to take the strain of hearing that, I fear.
Kewangji: Posdy zwei tosdy osdy oady. Bork bork bork, hoppity syphilis bork.

Eebster the Great: What specifically is moving faster than light in these examples?
doogly: Hands waving furiously.

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby p1t1o » Mon Oct 03, 2016 8:16 am UTC

On the topic of moving mass down a potential gradient for energy generation...

If we could hypothetically extract kinetic energy from the moon, symmetrically lowering its orbit... and of course, converting this energy into electricity at 100% efficiency...

How many years of electricity could be supplied to the globe (at todays current usage, say) before the change in orbit starts to have serious detrimental effects?

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Eebster the Great » Mon Oct 03, 2016 1:20 pm UTC

It's payback for all those millennia of the Moon stealing energy from us.

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Whizbang » Mon Oct 03, 2016 1:25 pm UTC

Just crash a few asteroids into it at the appropriate speed and direction every once in a while to speed it back up again..

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby p1t1o » Mon Oct 03, 2016 2:37 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:Just crash a few asteroids into it at the appropriate speed and direction every once in a while to speed it back up again..


Im just wondering if there might be enough kinetic energy stored in it that we might *never need to*, either the sun will eat it first or humanity will fade away. Or move away.

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Nicias » Mon Oct 03, 2016 2:49 pm UTC

Isn't this what tidal power does?

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby p1t1o » Mon Oct 03, 2016 3:51 pm UTC

Nicias wrote:Isn't this what tidal power does?


Yes I think so.

Just did a back-of-the-napkin calculation:

If we lower the moon from its present height, to one 25% lower, we can liberate over 7e18TJ.

With the global average consumption (as of 2009) at around 15TW, this energy could last us around 15 billion years.

If released quickly (say, in 1 second) this is more than enough to entirely vaporise the Moon.

For reference:
It would require approx 2.25e20TJ to entirely vaporise the Earth.
7e18TJ in 1 second represents the entire output of approx. 1000 Suns
7e18TJ reresents approx. 210000 50megaton "Tsar Bomba" nuclear devices
If you are interested, this is enough to stud the entire surface of the Moon with weapons, with each one occupying a square 13km to a side.


Some of those fact+figures sound funny, but thats maths for you. I cant be more than, ooh, a factor of a billion out on any one calculation.

Just goes to show, screw global warming, tidal energy is some dangerous sh**.



Figures:
Height 1 - Current Moon Altitude - 384399000m
Height 2 - (Height1*0.75) - 288299250m
Velocity @ 1 - 1024.55m/s
Velocity @ 2 - 1183.055m/s
Potential Energy @ 1 - 2.82e31J
Potential Energy @ 2 - 2.12e31J
Kinetic Energy @ 1 - 3.85e28J
Kinetic Energy @ 2 - 5.14e28J

Total Energy @ 1 - 2.83e31J
Total Energy @ 2 - 2.12e31J

Difference - 7.04e30J

Seconds @ 15TW output - 4.7e17s
Years @ 15TW output - 1.49e10yrs

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Oct 03, 2016 7:56 pm UTC

Sableagle wrote:Maybe it'd be easier not to use rocks. Something with an even density would allow greater control of machine loading, electricity generation and so on. Something more fluid than large rocks would allow control of flow better, too, so sand may be a better choice. Then you still need a way to get sand up the mountain. If there was an easy way to use solar power and/or wind power to refresh your supply of sand or other ballast on high ground generally, you could then use that supply to generate electricity locally ... but how do you get sunlight and wind to move anything from a beach to the top of a hill?
It's too bad there are no rocks with a boiling point low enough for the sun to vaporize them.
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby SDK » Mon Oct 03, 2016 8:21 pm UTC

rock /räk/ noun
1. the solid mineral material forming part of the surface of the earth and other similar planets, exposed on the surface or underlying the soil or oceans.

min·er·al /ˈmin(ə)rəl/ noun
1. a solid inorganic substance of natural occurrence.


Therefore, ice is a rock?

I think you guys might be onto something here. If we could take the liquid ice from the oceans and allow it to solidify in the mountains, theoretically we could get it to move back downhill by melting it. How you could harvest the energy from a bunch of liquid ice flowing back to the oceans, I have no idea, but it's an interesting thought experiment.
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Eebster the Great » Tue Oct 04, 2016 7:41 am UTC

It's easy, you just have it spin turbines as it falls. That's how all hydroelectric dams work. I doubt any electric dams run on meltwater, but hypothetically such a dam should be possible, and it would basically be what you are talking about, only way better.

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Xanthir » Tue Oct 04, 2016 7:28 pm UTC

P sure their "no idea" was sarcastic; hydroelectric dams are clearly the existing solution to harvesting energy from melted water atop mountains. ^_^
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby SDK » Wed Oct 05, 2016 9:21 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:It's easy, you just have it spin turbines as it falls. That's how all hydroelectric dams work. I doubt any electric dams run on meltwater, but hypothetically such a dam should be possible, and it would basically be what you are talking about, only way better.

Don't basically all electric dams North of the tropics run primarily on meltwater? My "no idea" was indeed sarcastic, as was all that discussion about liquid ice.
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Eebster the Great » Wed Oct 05, 2016 11:13 pm UTC

I guess I'm not really sure. I assume most run on rainwater, though a large number are principally groundwater (e.g. the Hoover Dam). Presumably it depends on the season.

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Oct 05, 2016 11:18 pm UTC

Go back far enough, it was overwhelmingly comets... A lot of untapped potential (and kinetic) energy there... ;)

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby poxic » Wed Oct 05, 2016 11:22 pm UTC

Further. It was all the Big Bang. We're still coasting on it.
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby SDK » Thu Oct 06, 2016 1:38 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:I guess I'm not really sure. I assume most run on rainwater, though a large number are principally groundwater (e.g. the Hoover Dam). Presumably it depends on the season.

Quick google seems to indicate that it varies from dam to dam quite a bit. Some are groundwater, others are rainwater, and some are melt water - from snowfall and/or glaciers. Makes sense that it would be as varied as what feeds any random river, of course. Being from Canada, I guess my perspective on the importance of ice and snow might be skewed. :)
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Re: Science Fleeting thoughts

Postby Angua » Tue Oct 11, 2016 2:09 pm UTC

So, the work I'm doing at the moment is generally pretty boring and repetitive, but every so often I come across a random idea that I'd never considered before.

I present to you a (not thought of by me) concern re: pandemic situations - impact of the medication used to treat such disease on the environment. The idea that you'd get a lot of people excreting a medication or its by products at once never really occured to me.

Interestingly, my brief google scholar search just now does not give a similar risk assessment for statins, though admittedly I haven't tried that hard.
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby plytho » Tue Oct 11, 2016 4:48 pm UTC

Interesting thought indeed.

I found this article about environmental impact of medicine. Statins are mentioned but I'm not a professional so I can't further identify them from the text or this list:

the article wrote:Pharmaceuticals that have been identified as a priority for further study

Human

Aminophylline, Beclametasone, theophylline, Paracetamol, Norethisterone, codeine, furosemide, Atenolol, Bendroflumethiazide, chlorphenamine, lofepramine, Dextropropoxyphene, Procyclidene, Tramadol, Clotrimazole, Thiridazine, Mebeverine, Terbinafine, tamoxifen, Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole, Fenofibrate, diclofenac
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby SDK » Tue Oct 11, 2016 5:02 pm UTC

Some work has been done on the environmental impacts of common medications too, such as birth control pills which have shown measured impacts on marine life downstream from big cities. The idea that a pandemic situation would cause something like this in the short-term is interesting, but also obvious once you think about it.
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Angua » Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:51 pm UTC

Yeah, I did find one about contraceptives.

That list is interesting, though strange that statins aren't in that list, and neither are ACE inhibitors (another very common class).
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Eebster the Great » Wed Oct 12, 2016 2:45 am UTC

SDK wrote:Some work has been done on the environmental impacts of common medications too, such as birth control pills which have shown measured impacts on marine life downstream from big cities. The idea that a pandemic situation would cause something like this in the short-term is interesting, but also obvious once you think about it.

I have often wondered how this could even be possible. The dilution of the medicine in the ocean is beyond extreme. Even close to the sewage pipes, it's just hard to believe the concentration could be anywhere remotely near high enough to have any measurable effect on anything.

I mean, if the average person flushes one dose of X drug per week and 1000 gallons of water, then even if you took that pure sewage with no dilution by ocean water and drank only that, even a large fish would take in something like 0.0001 doses per week. In reality, considering the dilution by ocean water, I would expect perhaps 1% of that, or one millionth of a dose per week.

I can't see how the math works out.

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Sandor » Wed Oct 12, 2016 9:23 am UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:
SDK wrote:Some work has been done on the environmental impacts of common medications too, such as birth control pills which have shown measured impacts on marine life downstream from big cities.

I have often wondered how this could even be possible.

I did a quick Google, and it appears that (as one webpage put it) "groups with a record of opposing contraception" have been misrepresenting studies into this. Apparently chemicals from farming that can interfere with hormone systems (including at least one common fertilizer) also make their way into water supplies, and studies about the effects of this get conflated with the idea of the (mostly mythical) effects of birth-control drugs in the water supply.

At least that's the way I read it, but I'm hesitant to post links or be too definitive, as there seems to be a lot of FUD spread about this, and I don't know enough to have an informed opinion on the subject.

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby p1t1o » Wed Oct 12, 2016 9:34 am UTC

Re: drugs in water - the key is persistance and bio-accumulation.

Eebster the Great wrote:
SDK wrote:Some work has been done on the environmental impacts of common medications too, such as birth control pills which have shown measured impacts on marine life downstream from big cities. The idea that a pandemic situation would cause something like this in the short-term is interesting, but also obvious once you think about it.

I have often wondered how this could even be possible. The dilution of the medicine in the ocean is beyond extreme. Even close to the sewage pipes, it's just hard to believe the concentration could be anywhere remotely near high enough to have any measurable effect on anything.

I mean, if the average person flushes one dose of X drug per week and 1000 gallons of water, then even if you took that pure sewage with no dilution by ocean water and drank only that, even a large fish would take in something like 0.0001 doses per week. In reality, considering the dilution by ocean water, I would expect perhaps 1% of that, or one millionth of a dose per week.

I can't see how the math works out.


I tend to agree, but from my somewhat limited experience with pharmaceuticals, drugs can have widely different effective dosages from species to species. What I mean to say is that one species can be orders of magnitude more sensitive to a drug than another, and others might metabolise huge doses with little effect. For example: your puppy would have to eat almost its whole bodyweight in rat poison to kill itself, your cat however, is hyper sensitive to it.

There are also issues with persistance and bio-concentration (a-la mercury in fish) so even very very small amounts can end up building to effective dosages in higher predators. Obviously not all drugs will behave in the same way, some will degrade quickly, others may find few susceptible species.

NB:
Consider a little fish that consumes 1 millionth of a dose per week. The little fish lives for say 10 weeks before being eaten. The predator consumes 100 of these fish per week. Say the predator lives for 100 weeks before itself being eaten. The next higher predator consumes the former at a rate of 1 per week. Within 2 years this 2nd tier predator has consumed 10 full doses, and if it has bio-concentration properties, almost this full amount may be present within the fish long-term. A human then consuming this animal may even recieve an overdose!

Obviously very much oversimplified (and probably only accurate give-or-take several orders of magnitude), but demonstrates that extremely low doses, combined with persistance in the environment and bio-concentration, can lead to real problems.

Side note: my day job is in regulatory and PBT/vPvB (Persistant Bioaccumulative/Toxic & very Persistant very Bioaccumulative) substances are considered highly undesirable and are heavily regulated. Use as a pharmaceutical would be one of the only ways one could justify the use of chemicals with these properties. I would imagine this is precisely the reason that such research is done in the first place.

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby plytho » Wed Oct 12, 2016 9:48 am UTC

There's also the fact that a lot of sewage efluent flows into rivers instead of directly into ocean, so concentrations will be higher there.

I found this article (pdf) about bio-accumulation of pharmaceuticals. (I don't know what their affiliations are though.)
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Zohar » Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:05 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:The dilution of the medicine in the ocean is beyond extreme.

Well, you know, the more diluted a medication is, the stronger its effect!
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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby Whizbang » Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:56 pm UTC

But only if you shake it the right way.

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Re: Science fleeting thoughts

Postby SDK » Wed Oct 12, 2016 3:13 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:
SDK wrote:Some work has been done on the environmental impacts of common medications too, such as birth control pills which have shown measured impacts on marine life downstream from big cities. The idea that a pandemic situation would cause something like this in the short-term is interesting, but also obvious once you think about it.

I have often wondered how this could even be possible. The dilution of the medicine in the ocean is beyond extreme. Even close to the sewage pipes, it's just hard to believe the concentration could be anywhere remotely near high enough to have any measurable effect on anything.

This is not my area of expertise, it's my wife's. She was looking at the effect on fish (and other animals?) in rivers and lakes, never the ocean. Based on random conversations with her, it seemed fairly uncontroversial, but I haven't looked into it myself.
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