Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Well, I just got some good news. One of the guys in my study group got engaged on Friday. Welcome to the ranks of the permanently attached, Curtis!! Don't listen to all the punks that tell you what a rotten deal marriage is. For every complainer, you will find a dozen guys who have been married for decades and never had a moment's regret.

We lost power last night. No big deal; the inverter hit the low voltage cut-off and shut down like it is supposed to. The problem is that it did so at 23 volts instead of 22. I need to spend some time digging in the documentation and see why that is. We really are not getting the full use out of a battery charge if we can only run them down to 23.5 volts or so. The maximum range for a 24 volt system is 21 to 27 volts. We only charge up to 26.7 volts and set the cut-off at 22 to extend the battery life (This is based on the same theory that says its probably not a good idea to run your car at the redline all the time. Sure it's built to rev that hard, but not on a constant basis.) So around 11:30pm everything got real dark. My head-mounted light sits on my desk just for such occasions and I had power back up in about two minutes. That's what passes for excitement at the Frost household.

Other than that, not much to report other than doing homework and starting the ground work for Wednesday's lesson for youth group. I'm going to be starting a serious on spiritual formation when I'm done with what we are working on now (Trinity doctrines). I've dug out a couple texts and a serious I did almost a year ago. We've had essentially 100% turnover since then. Besides, no one can tell me what we talked about the previous week. I doubt they will remember something we did a year ago...

Tonight is more of the same. I need to stop by a couple electronics places and pick up a CD-R/RW drive for my cousin, then head home for a bunch of typing getting ready for tomorrow.

This from Jerry Pournelle's site:

Dear Jerry,

I was discussing the Yucca Mountain developments with a friend via e-mail. I was amused by the judge's requirement for the guvmint to come up with a plan that extended beyond 10,000 years. I also mentioned that you'd suggested dropping fused glass bricks of nuclear waste into subduction zones. Her response:

"How in the name of the lost gods does Pournelle think he can GET the damn stuff to go into the subduction without breaking up and releasing the radioactivity into the surrounding area? Not to mention that subduction happens on geological time, not HUMAN time.

"Sorry. I know you're quite taken with Pournelle, but that's one of the most idiotic things I've ever heard. Just a glib toss off that sounds clever, and isn't."

She's quite up on earth science and water resource problems. I opined that any radioactivity released would be quite localized...maybe a bit more deuterium and tritium, but that water stops neutrons pretty effectively.

Can you offer any more details on the topic or suggest a web site that describes this method of nuclear waste disposal?


Steve Erbach Neenah, WI

Actually, it's pretty simple although I can understand the concern of those who haven't seen the details.

First, although the nuclear waste scaremongers know but never say this, after 600 years or so the only radioactivity left in nuclear waste comes from the actinides, and is not much different from the radioactivity of the ores from which it was refined (except concentrated, so of course we dilute it). The dilution comes in the form of glass: we form the whole mess into glass bricks. I don't mean we surround the waste with glass, I mean that it becomes an integral part of glass bricks.

Glass bricks are nearly eternal. Now drop them into the Mindanao Deep (there ain't much life down there, and what there is lives off hot springs, and would probably appreciate the additional energy; the glass isn't going to chemically decompose). Over time that area is subducted. The glass isn't harmed until things get so hot that it melts, and when that happens, your actinides are right at home with others of their ilk.

Your friend's alarm is natural, but she should do me the credit of having a little common sense.

Incidentally, there are easier ways to isolate nuclear waste from the environment for the 600 or so years that it's more dangerous than ores. The ores remain radioactive for millions of years, of course -- after all the Earth is still hot inside, isn't it? All we have done is take them out of the Earth, use some of their energy, and put back something a bit less radioactive than what we took out (it's called the First Law of Thermodynamics: if you extract energy from something, then it has less potential energy in it than when you started. Your friend knows that but she isn't thinking about what's happening here).

Which is some good old fashioned common sense about radiation. It's everywhere and occurs naturally. What comes out of a reactor is less hot than what went in. It's not something you would want to carry around in your back pocket, but it isn't "deadly for 12,000 years" as Sting would have you believe. Of course our technological world is full of nasty stuff that requires cautious handling, like the active ingredients of common bug spray that people routinely spray in enclosed spaces and around food. One of the guys that helps with youth group routinely hauls around tanker trucks full of hydrochloric acid. You would probably had a heart attack if you knew what was in the truck rolling along next to you at 60 or 70 mph on the expressway...


The Abu Ghraib mess goes deeper than we were originally lead to believe.

And this is an important piece on media bias in all its forms.

And I have an appointment with my boss. Later.

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