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Wendelstein 7-X is alive! If you missed my earlier mention of it, it's a new take on an older concept for a fusion reactor, a Stellerator, which seeks to address the difficulties tokamaks experience in maintaining plasma stability. The rub? It's extremely complex in design - it's sort of similar to a tokamak in concept, maintaining the plasma in a ring, but in a much more complex shape than a torus, only recently computationally feasible. 7-X isn't a generator - it only seeks to demonstrate the feasibility of prolonged plasma generation, on the order of thirty minutes at a time. Will a stellerator or a tokamak be the first to achieve net generation of energy? We shall see. Though, that may still be decades ahead, given the scale and complexity of such undertakings, but with such a profound payoff.

Coo.. seems they're finally daring to contemplate a second Transbay tube. I'd be happy about that, given the existing one is fairly much at capacity, and BART's not exactly running out of passenger demand, but the pace on BART projects is positively glacial when it's all surface and elevated work, let alone going underground. Consider the exciting plan for BART to San Jose, for which a sales tax measure passed back in 1999, with the Warm Springs and Berryessa stations approaching opening in a year or so, with the main San Jose ones likely to follow around 2028. ^_^; Still, it would be very good to see, as a second tunnel could extend service to Alameda, before continuing west along Geary, potentially terminating at the beach, with another spur arcing southwest and south to eventually meet up around Daly City.

I am vindicated! Douglas Adams concurs: Earl Grey is delicious with milk. ^_^

Here's quite a sobering look at the fate of Jersey, which, back in the 1960s, set out to exploit its unusual legal status to become a tax haven.

Quite how I missed this when it debuted, I'm not sure - but Autostraddle took a sympathetic look at MLP:FiM, including the aspect of shipping, back in 2012. (I noticed one artist referenced, IAmNotACleverPony, has apparently since left DeviantArt - don't suppose anyone knows what led to that?)

Rusty Lake Hotel looks like being rather good fun - it's a furry point & click adventure title, coming out next week for iOS, Android, and "desktop". And per my previous mention of Maestria, I'm very pleased with that - gorgeous design throughout, and engaging game design emergent from a few simple rules.

If you feel like chipping in, the Internet Archive folks will be holding a 24-hour live & streaming telethon on Dec 19/20: "The Internet Archive, the home of the Wayback Machine and millions of movies, books, software and music items, is spicing up its fundraising season with an actual Telethon, hosted and run by Internet Archive employees, and in front of a live audience! For 24 hours, from Noon on Saturday, December 19th, and going straight through without breaks until Noon on December 20th, we will be featuring a variety of performances, interviews, games and straight-up silliness from our 300 Funston Avenue location in San Francisco."

Wow. =:D If I'm interpreting Wanderlust's notes on their competition site correctly, I may be one of ten folk on the wildlife category shortlist. ^_^ I can't be certain, as their email only said that I'm through to the "next round" of judging; that said, on the site, they note "judging will take place shortly and if you've made it through into the shortlist of 10 per category you will be notified." Eeee! It looks like each category will have three winners: the overall winner, receiving that magnificent trip; a runner-up, receiving a D5500 and 18-55mm lens; and "highly commended", receiving a Coolpix P610 superzoom bridge, with a fairly insane reach of 24-1440mm. (As you'd expect, with a small sensor, you don't get the same quality and low light performace of a DSLR, but that said, it does indeed work!)

Has anyone migrated from Google Apps email for their domain(s), over to Fastmail? I'm giving consideration to finally shifting away, with their pricing looking quite moderate, at $40/year for the level I'd need, permitting use of your own domains.

Bah. Had to give rabbiteering back at the original spot on Wednesday a miss.. the forecasts were converging on just "sunny spells", and that's about the best outlook for the next week or two. But, with the back being a bit twinge-y, I'm not sure a journey like that would've be the very best thing possible: 30 mins train, 30 mins Tube/walk, 1h20 train, 30 mins walk. (As it turns out, the forecasts continued to slide into "meh", so I didn't miss too much)

The other week, I noted that the Elbo Room was listed for being a thing of the past - but not so! They're apparently safe for a little longer yet, into 2018. ^_^
 
 
 
 
 
 
As I understand it, current fusion generator design is bottlenecked on finding a suitable shielding material, because there's still a large quantity of escaping plasma, and practically speaking you need one you can turn on for eight hours out of every twenty four. (To provide a bank of heat sources in front of the turbines, only some of which are working at any time) Moving to Stellarator over the simpler toroid suggests a huge simplification of this problem because containment is substantially improved over Tokamaks.
Surely, there can be absolutely no plasma leakage, else we'd have melting on our paws? Neutrons, absolutely, though my understanding is that's a manageable issue, for the most part.

Certainly, the longer you can maintain plasma creation, and therefore, heat for the turbines, the better. I suppose we're still some way off working out how to deal with a generation system that may not be 24x7, with ITER probably a decade off, and 7-X maybe a few design generations away from something that's both large enough for commercial utility and able to exploit the energy generated. Of course, what hits the magical self-sustaining point first remains to be seen - who knows? Maybe that Lockheed Skunkworks design will pan out - one intriguing aspect there is how relatively compact it is, on the order of a shipping container or two. Perhaps we'll wind up with many small installations, plus a few huge ones?
Plasma is no big deal. It's just what happens when an atom gets energised enough it's electrons free from the nucleus. This happens when you set anything on fire for instance. The problem with pure hydrogen plasma, is that a bare hydrogen nucleus is the same thing as an alpha-particle. So fusion plasma has lots and lots of alpha and beta radiation when it leaks. Which again, is not that big a deal since shielding against alpha and beta is trivial and only needs foil coatings. But the problem is that most shielding degrades pretty quickly to constant high-level exposure into stuff you don't want to keep around, so what material can you use on shielding on a tokamak that's going to expose the shielding to constant alpha and beta exposure during operation?
There are many, many problems with energy-generating fusion. One of the problems with plasma leakage is that it's also energy leakage: it's energy that goes into warming the lining of the tank instead of fusing atoms. Getting energy-generating fusion by confined plasma is already a marginal operation (and I doubt it can be done); leakage is like throwing an anvil to a struggling swimmer.
Indeed.. they're hinting that it may be hindered by tokomacks... but the newer suggestions are another 20 years off... ;P
Only Germans would come up with a name like "Wendelstein 7-X". :P

Congrats on getting shortlisted, too!
The project sorely needs a 1950s pulp sci-fi poster, indeed. ^_^ Not to say we shouldn't be ploughing much more into current renewables like solar (both on a local, urban level, as well as vast projects in the Spanish and African interiors), wave, wind, and tidal, but on a long term basis, the potential payoff is huge. Just really difficult. (Which, I suppose, goes for so much of life)

Thanks! I'm really quite excited about this - I could actually be in with a chance! Even aside from anything else, I'd love to have a leporine photo in a position of prominence with a photography competition - so often, when it comes to wildlife, Africa looms large, with the usual magnificent species always turning up in strength. Plus, I like to think I capture something of the spirit of my subjects - there's a lot of wildlife photography that doesn't really convey that to me, relying more on the relatively exotic nature than "does this tell me something about those individuals?", or even showcasing some particularly attractive composition. Which is sort of why I'm hopeful in this instance - looking at last year's winner, I'm really pleased they received the nod. That's quite a nifty moment.
Yeah, I agree about renewable energy (still a funny term once you stop and think about it).

The amount of energy we receive from the sun every day, for instance, is vastly greater than what we use, so it makes little sense to me that we're not trying to tap into it. Same for other sources of energy, e.g. geothermal — hardly anyone is using that (Iceland being a notable exception).

Instead, people focus on energy sources that are not just dirty (in that they produce harmful waste) but also use fuel that'll eventually run out. This includes nuclear energy, BTW; we don't have a limitless supply of uranium anymore than we have a limitless supply of coal, or oil, or natural gas.

I think one thing we should also do is look into reducing energy consumption. Not by telling people to not use energy, as was done in the past; that's not gonna work. But we could identify wasteful use.

Sometimes energy is used in non-productive ways; when devices still draw a few watts while on stand-by, for instance, or when a house isn't well-insulated and leaks (much) heat. Sometimes energy is also used inefficiently: when an incandescent bulb converts most of the electricity it draws to heat rather than light, for instance, or when a device otherwise uses more power to do its job than it should need, due to a poor design.

The key, in any case, is to recognize that people want to do certain things, and that they will not compromise on that. Tell someone he shouldn't use his car to go wherever he wants to go, chances are he won't listen. Offer him a more fuel-efficient car to use instead, and he well might — he'll still go wherever he wants to go, but he'll use less fuel. And so on.

For a while so-called "passive" houses were a bit of a thing here, BTW, houses that (on the whole) neither produced nor used energy. There were also so-called "plus-energy" houses that had a net positive balance. I think the idea's pretty cool, doubly so because you're pretty autonomous with a house like that; generate your own electricity (solar panels etc), your own heating (e.g. geothermal; a friend of a friend's house got its own geothermal heating unit, which is pretty nifty), collect rainwater and so on. I think this is something that could appeal to a technically-minded, libertarian-leaning crowd, too.
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I need to keep a closer ear on BART happenings, including the meetings, given just how profound the effects will be, even if the project timescales are rather mind-boggling. Still, I suppose, even allowing for bureaucracy, large projects will take time - Crossrail finally began construction in 2009, and will be in full service in 2019, connecting the western and eastern London mainline stations. Which.. I suppose, isn't too bad a timescale, given the large bore required versus Tube trains, the number of (very busy) stations involved, the amount of tunneling and suchlike already present, and of course, the ever-present difficulties of lots of water wanting to say Hi to a new tunnel. =:) (Which was, of course, quite an issue in earlier tunnel constructions, back in the late 19th century)

I really hope it happens. ^_^ Alameda can so use such a local, top-tier transit connection, let alone the extra capacity for the system. If only it could be sped up a mite! Ah well. Maybe we'll get to reminisce about when all of that was just being considered, out on the porch, in our rocking chairs. ^_^

(Though, hopefully I'd be able to rock a chaise longue by that point =:)
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Congratulations on the (potential) shortlisting! That's great news.
It's quite exciting. ^_^ Even aside from anything else, I'd so love to see buns better represented in wildlife photography. They're certainly a challenge, given they're not usually overly inclined to be watched, plus their relatively modest size offers rather less of an autofocus target - but it's so fabulously rewarding when a special moment can be not only witnessed, but also shared. ^_^
I believe that NotaCleverPony, who had had it rough at home, was feeling better and was getting a gender change when they stopped contributing music to the scene. That was back in 2012.
Oh, cool beans! I hope they're doing well now. I imagine they'd be more or less past transition by now, insofar as one ever really is.