Articles to 2015-02-13

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First the link to this week’s complete list as HTML and as PDF.

I can’t access the primary source for Beniston but his conclusion seems rather overblown. Every limited time series with a definite cut-off at the beginning will produce ever increasing extremes in both directions. So during the fifties half of these were new minima, which seems low, since they fall in the middle of three decades of a known and well recorded decrease in average temperature. In the single recent year Beniston has picked out the proportion of minima is smaller, but it’s still 40 % of all extremes. In an environment as noisy as this, 40 % in a single year is indistinguishable from 50 %.

Cai et al.’s results are based on computer models alone, the one tool most amenable to junk science and unintentional or unconscious tweaking towards achieving an intended goal. If this temperature dependency is real, it ought to be visible in the Roman and Medieval optima and discernible through archaeology. If it can be shown to have occurred then, I’ll believe the projections for our future but not before.

Kim, Kim & Kim introduce a wonderful new lightweight and high-strength material. Its high ductility and astonishing strain hardening greatly aids the design of constructions with predictable and fail-safe failure modes. That said I’m dismayed at the suggested use for automobiles. The VW Golf I weighed 750 kg and when damaged could easily and safely be welded in any backyard. The current model weighs nearly twice as much at 1150 kg and, contrary to what the abstract implies, that is not due to a rise of structural material but to unimaginable loads of junk and extras no sane driver would ever want to have in his car. The load bearing structure gets lighter by the year and already today the carefully heat treated high tensile materials can be neither welded nor brazed without becoming brittle and losing all its strength, making private repairs downright suicidal. Every little mishap today results in the complete replacement of half the structure. You can and probably should make airliners and nuclear reactors that way but not things in everyday use by ordinary people.

Admittedly the journal science is not aimed at the general public, but I still wonder how many readers will have put the details in Normile’s essay in perspective. How many readers can readily envisage 17 000 tons of waste material[1] and how many are instantly aware, that highly radioactive is synonymous to short lived?

1000 tons of water is a cube of ten by ten metres, ten metres high. For the density of nuclear fuel elements the height is reduced to less than two metres, less than the size of a single, free standing, single family, single storied bungalow. A mere seventeen of these comprise all the waste accumulated by a highly nuclearized industrial country the size and population of Japan over all the time since the start of its first reactor. And this is supposed to present an unsurmountable problem? Wish all our current problems were as small and as easily solved.     Zurück

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