August 19th, 2007

Ann Vole

Nuclear weapons and greenhouse gases

Nuclear weapons and greenhouse gases
a significant portion of the defense budget of the USA and some other countries are being spent on increasing their nuclear arsenal. Nuclear power has a low greenhouse gas output in the nuclear power production (mining and transportation of uranium and production and maintenance of the facilities will result in some greenhouse gases). An increase in nuclear power will likely cause an increase in the price of radioactive materials (although better mining practices may actually reduce prices in the long term) so more nuclear power might result in less nuclear warheads. It also makes possible the use of these warheads to produce power and be thus dismantled. This gives an "out" for countries with a large amount of these. I am still against using more centralized power (would prefer everyone made their own power with solar) but there are lots of power hungry industrial processes that can be powered by nuclear (which matches the slow change times of output of a nuclear facility with the predictable use of power in industries).
Ann Vole

Living crash test dummies

I was watching the many compilation videos of crashes and other painful or fatal things that were caught on video. Real situations are not very much like the crash tests done on cars and show some repeated injuries or deaths that may be prevented with some different designs. One of the most common things is people being hit by cars. what usually happens in a pedestrian collision is the head is accelerated at great speeds as the legs get knocked out from under the person and ending with the head hitting the vehicle very hard. I have been looking at the pedestrian air bags installed on some new cars and realize that they would not help at all in this. There was one hit by a Volkswagen Beetle and the guy ended up sliding over the hood of the car instead of doing a face plant. I wonder if that curved design made a difference in the outcome of that victim. Some cities are installing video cameras at major intersections for various reasons and I am wondering if captured accident videos could be gathered and studied to make cars safer by seeing what REALLY happens in the real world crashes (and new and more accurate crash tests can be developed).

One rollover accident (during a high speed police chase) involved a SUV that rolled over after skidding sideways then got into a fast roll-over. Pausing the video showed the vehicle mostly intact at this point in spite of already rolling over several times. Then the vehicle hit a tall meridian separating multiple lanes of traffic at which time it essentially disintegrated into many parts which scattered all over the other lanes of traffic including what looked like a seat with a person strapped in by a seat belt. My point is that the meridian design was not effective for roll overs at high speeds. Using such videos, I think better road designs can be developed to both remove the kinetic energy of a stray vehicle and keep the loose parts of an accident from causing further accidents.

I took the transit buses in Calgary a lot (several trips a day and usually several transfers to different buses)so I was waiting at major intersections a lot. I witnessed a lot of accidents first hand while waiting for a bus and the angle and perspective I had was a lot different then any of the stuff I saw on YouTube. From that perspective, I could see how drivers reacted and I also saw things like bumpers or hub caps flying through the air for dozens of feet. (one bumper flew over my head at a speed that made a whistling sound). My point is that we need several angles and heights to really see what is going on.
Ann Vole

Language and time travel

I think I already posted on this topic but I think it is an important way of looking at the subject. Language is a form of time travel but on many different levels. First there is just the simple mechanics of language... the words or symbols have meanings that have been established in the past so the ideas can be brought from the past to the present instantly. Higher levels of learning require a foundation of ideas.

Part 2 of the time travel is the sentence. The sentence can take these words and form an event... the subject noun does the verb action. This can transport us into the future or the past or into the future or past views of an event (which may be currently happening such as "we will remember this" or "I was looking forward to this").

Thirdly, our minds work on a language level allowing us to bring past experiences and future ideas into our conscious memory by our own effort. Without language, those memories or visions of a goal will happen only when something triggers such a memory or thought. Artists can pull out such memories or ideas without language (I do it all the time when imagining what I want to draw or making up music in my head) but I noticed that there seems to be a limited amount of complexity without drawing upon instinct (like what the other hand is doing while playing a tune on the piano) or on working lines and sketches and the undercoat of color when making art. Language, including names of chords and keys for music or names of colors and ideas for art, adds to the complexity by instantly taking us back to the concept that language portrays when we think of it while doing creative thinking.

Fourth, Language can be recorded and is thus a time portal to the future and when read, a time portal to the past. Not only does it move information but it allows us to mind-meld with another brain and share thoughts and experiences. Animals may not have a written language but this aspect of "language" can still apply as such... when a baby animal grows up in it's mother's home, it learns how things should be built and this learning will result in the animal making the same good design for it's own home. The blueprint is written in real model of the parrents home (and also reoccupied homes)