Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Trade Deficits
it would be great if it did pass, because they'd have to put up signs at the border telling people that "bumpernuts" were illegal <- I take most my grooming advice from physicists
Not really news, but I feel it's worth a brief discussion. People generally talk about the trade deficit as a bad thing. However, what they are overlooking is that a trade deficit is a way of correcting an imbalance. In order to have an imbalance of trade you must first have a country that is more prosperous. Countries don't just send cars and stuff to other countries because they need them, they send them because those countries are paying for them. But a trade deficit can only lead to an equaling of prosperity, not to the other country overtaking us. If Japan because more prosperous than us we would no longer be able to afford their cars, and we'd stop buying them. The same holds true for how people love to talk about China buying our debt. Buying debt is another way of saying investing in. Generally you don't want something you've invested heavily in to do poorly. China buying our debt is a good thing because it makes them more likely look out of our interest, because that will be profitable to them. International trade is a good thing, it levels the playing field and leads to a mixing of cultures that lessens tensions and prevents wars. When countries become interinvolved (<-a word) in one another through trade they have less to gain, and more to lose from war. The countries you have to watch out for are the ones that want nothing to do with others, and that also have some power. I've said it before and I'll say it again Russia is probably the greatest threat to the world. 5-10 years ago I probably would have said China, but they are slowly becoming capalist, and while they'll probably have to have some sort of revolution at some point to become a democrocy, I don't see them cause trouble outside of possibly taiwain/tibet any time soon.

Russia though is interesting. A huge powerful country that was pretty much ignored after it's collapse. However it still has the infrastructure and resources of a powerful country. I don't know if you know about this whole natural gas thing this winter (they turned off gas exports to Europe, pretty much just for fun), but it shows they clearly aren't interested in any sort of good will, and they have the still have great influence where they want it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Oxygen From Algae,tx14_paul,blog,999,All,Item%20not%20found,ID=090112_2598,TEMPLATE=postingdetail.shtml

The bulk of our oxygen is made by algae, and for a life support system in closed space algae would probably be ideal. A study done in the 60's about using algae to determine the feasibility of using algae on nuclear subs. The fact that it isn't used probably has more to do with the fact that the two things a nuclear sub has plenty of is energy and water, which make electrolysis ideal. For something like a permanent off Earth base though water and energy will probably be in short supply.

The study found that you could get 4.5L/hour from 6.2L of algae and 34k footcandles of light (from 9kw worth of incandescents). It is unclear what 6.2L is actually a mesurment of. It could be just the water used, or the entire volume of the whole apperatus. Also they refer to it as a "small pilot plant", which could even mean it was 6.2L worth of seed algae which further grew. I'm just going to assume it's 6.2L worth of water and algae. Also it's worth noting that 9kw worth of incandescents is a lot of engery. Some newer form of light production would be more effecant, however it's unknown what type of incandescents they were using. Higher wattage bulbs are more effciant than lower ones, so a 1.5kw bulb would be much more efficient than a 100w. So it would be inaccurate to simple find how much watts florecnts would need to match a 100w. Also the most efficient form of light we have is incandescent, sodium vaper lights (street lights), which they very well could have been using. Since we have foot candles we know how much actual light we need, however foot candles aren't used very often, and can't be directly converted into lumens.

A random site claims a healthy resting adult uses 53L of oxygen per hour. However, I noticed what I think is a flaw with their estimate. If you follow their steps to arrive at the 53L number it is clear that is the ammount of oxygen breathed in during an hour. However, only about 19% of oxygen is used in any breath. Thus the ammount of oxygen needing to be replaced during an hour would be closer to 10L. Also you may remember that I said generally if you are in an enclosed space CO2 buildup is what will kill you before lack of oxygen does. I'm assuming that if the algae is generating all the oxygen you need it will also be using all the CO2 you give off. Lastly we probably don't want to assume constantly at rest healthy adults. I found that the breaths per minute rate goes up by about 3 during exercise, so I'll use 30L as the ammount need per person per hour. Since you won't be exercising 24/7 this should be a good safty margine too.

To get 30L from algae we'll need to scale up the above study by 6.66, round up to 7 that means we'll need 44L of algae, 238k footcandles, which 63kw worth of incandescents could provide. 44L isn't very much space, a cm deep square meter is 10L, so 4.4 of them. 63kw worth of engery is a lot though, a large house probably uses no more than 5kw. Doing some searching I've found numbers that seem to indicate getting that much light for about 30kw. 100 people would require 6.3mw using these numbers. Small nuclear reactors used in civilian ships out put about 150mw, the ISS seems to generate about 110kw. It's also worth noting that any given spot on the moon will receive full sunlight for 15 days straight, then 15 days of darkness. Also there is talk about placing a base in a crater near the poles, which due to it's angles would receive full sun 24/7 (usefull for solar power, but also would be ideal for plants). Lastly sunlight on the Moon would be more intense than on Earth, due to the lack of atmosphere.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Flash Prices

So I was going through my flash price spreadsheet, and I noticed the cheapest price from when I stopped updating it in Nov-07 was $6/GB. Today it's $1.50/GB. So I thought about how I wished I had kept it up, as I'd like to see if there was any pattern. Also I again tried to find any kind of record of Newegg's prices, and couldn't. I decided now that I have the ability to scrap web pages I'd use that to automate it. So I made a batch script to download the search results for 1-32GB, and then .7z them. That was going to be it, I figured I'd set that up to run once a day and then have a nice archive in a year. But, then I decided to just make the perl script to parse the plain text and extract the price, model, and type and then append that data to the end of a csv file. Now I had a spreadsheet that updated daily and had the prices for the different sizes. Then I really wanted some way to upload it to the web automatically. I figured I could get something that would sync it with a google doc spreadsheet, but no such luck. Then I found some command line tools to upload stuff, but it was all python, and I don't have python installed, still looked promsising for the future.

Well today I figured I could just output a html page and then ftp that to my site via batch. It was going to be a simple html page, but I forgot perl is used to make html all the time, so it had good support for html formatting. So now it finds the cheapest price and outputs a page saying what it is, with a link to a newegg search for the model number (which should go directly to the product page, but I made make it grab the newegg item number and make the direct url if that doens't work in the future). Then it just ftp's it to my site. It all runs from my laptop, and considering the daisy chains of programs, batch files and scripts that make it runs on it works quite well and fast.
I'd prefer to run it on my mom's computer, as that is on more often (although the laptop is virtually always on). But it requires lynx, 7zip installed to command line, and perl. I'll probably install them on there later. It updates at about 825am every day.

Monday, February 9, 2009
They initially demanded a ransom of $20m, but reports suggest that a figure of $3.2m (£2.2m) was agreed, following months of negotiations.

"We have released MV Faina. There were only three boys remaining and they delayed the release for one hour, but now the ship is free," one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali, told AFP news agency by phone.

"No huge amount has been paid, but something to cover our expenses," he added

I really like that, it's only fair they get a little something to cover the expenses of them stealing the ship. <- Seems like a good idea <- Summery: The "power...To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states" gives the Federal Government the power to outlaw hunting from planes.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Price Of Aluminum

Lately I've been downloading a lot of Rifftrax. If you don't know it's cometary done by the 3 guys who did the latter season of MST3K. They do it for modern movies and just release the audio, so they don't worry about copyrights (which killed DVD releases of the original MST3K). I'd prefer to just get the audio and sync it myself, but you can really only find them presynced. They are quite funny, and I've been thinking about actually donating to them (and I'll continue to think very hard about it, which I'm sure is worth something).

The Federal government banning things it has no authority over by over taxing and then giving part of the money back with strings attached should be forbidden in the constitution. 55 mph speed limits, 21 drinking age, and now executive pay. I can't comprehend how people think this is a good thing. Will they still when their entire paycheck goes to the Federal government and then they receive allowances?

(12:07:54 AM) Me:
(12:08:04 AM) Me: 25 cans per pound
(12:08:16 AM) Me: about $0.65 a pound for aluminum
(12:09:05 AM) Me: $1000 / $15 a case = 67 cases * 30 = 2010 cans
(12:09:42 AM) Me: 2010 / 25 = 81lbs * $0.65 = $53
(12:09:50 AM) Me: so it's a lie
(12:09:58 AM) Me: something on the internet is not true
(12:10:05 AM) Me: alert the townspeople