Archives for posts with tag: science

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Most of us have some degree of knowledge as to what fusion is… that it could solve the energy problems of the world and that star trek/wars loves it. What I aim to do in this post however,  is give you a deeper understanding of how humans can harness this furnace of stellar energy, for glorious benefit, and also unspeakable evil.

What is fusion

Fusion is the process by which two small atomic nuclei are forced together to form one larger nucleus. The nucleus is the tiny centre of an atom, less than a billionth of the volume, yet comprising 99.99% of the atoms mass, famously described as a fly in a cathedral. As nuclei get more massive, starting with hydrogen, the binding energy increases, until iron is reached, element number 26, then the trend reverses. The result of this is that energy can be released by starting with a small nucleus (usually H) and moving toward Fe, or coming down from a huge nucleus (U, Pu) toward iron. The former process is fusion (joining), and the latter fission, (splitting).

binding-e-graphFig 1.1, the binding energy of the known elements

Much greater energy is liberated through fusion than fission, (a substantial portion of its mc^2 *) than with fission. However, there is a problem. fission is easy, it only requires that enough of a large unstable nucleus such as uranium be present in a small space and a reaction will occur. However, if this were to occur with hydrogen, the Hindenburg would have made a MUCH larger boom. The difference arises in the nuclear process. Fusion requires the two nuclei to get very close together, and each nucleus is a huge source of positive charge as it contains at least one proton. As anyone who has used magnets will know, like charges repel. This repulsion must be overcome by allowing the atoms to smash together at enormous speeds. Temperature is just a macroscopic term for the average speed of atoms or molecules in a substance. Thus, to fuse nuclei, the fusing material must be hot. Very hot. Under normal conditions, at least 10^6 Kelvin. This can be achieved but is very hard to control, which is why sci-fi loves “cold fusion”, an  improbable concept with current technology. Experiments have shown that fusion is viable but fusion power stations are a long way down the pipeline.

Fusion power is especially desirable as it can be generated from pure water, and produces little or no radioactive waste, in contrast to current nuclear power stations, whose reactors consume hazardous fissile materials and release tonnes of highly radioactive sludge which must be disposed of. Our only current use for fusion is in weaponry, a field in which it excels. The largest fusion weapon ever detonated was the Soviet Czar, a 100 Mt warhead which was scaled down to 50 Mt by using a lead damper in place of the recommended uranium. This has now been shown to be an important modification, as a 100 Mt blast would have had grave consequences for life in the wider area around the test site.

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Fig 1.2, The mushroom cloud of the Czar from the air… The cloud measured 110 km high by 40 wide.

The huge temperatures required to fuse deuterium and tritium, (heavier isotopes of hydrogen which contain more neutrons) are achieved using a fission primary, a conventional fission charge which wraps around the fusion based centre. The fission bomb detonates first and generates temperatures of two million Kelvin, which ignite a fusion reaction in the core of the device. the result is a huge blast which can equal the chemical energy of a cube of TNT 600m to a side, and with a mass of one billion kilograms. the surrounding area, for many kilometres is flattened and the soil vapourised, leaving bare polished rock. even outside the killzone, flash burns, flying glass lacerations and radiation exposure would kill many. These weapons have such unearthly power that they detected around the world as a moderate earthquake. No human being has ever been intentionally killed using fusion, and the day on which that changes, may well be the last day of civilized human existence for many years, possibly forever.

  • The mc^2 of a fuel is the maximum energy obtainable from that amount of matter. It is given, in joules (J) by the mass in kg, multiplied by the square of the speed of light in m/s (3*10^8 ).
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Individuality

Let them rise to the heavens,

Let them sink in the sea

Let them do what they want to,

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Here are…the “ologies”

Acarolo, the study of ticks and mites

Actinobiologygy, the study of the effects of radiation upon living organisms
Actinology, the study of the effect of light on chemicals
Aerobiology, a branch of biology that studies organic particles that are transported by the air
Aerology, the study of the atmosphere
Aetiology, the medical study of the causation of disease
Agrobiology, the study of plant nutrition and growth in relation to soil
Agrology, the branch of soil science dealing with the production of crops.
Agrostology, the study of grasses
Algology, the study of algae
Allergology, the study of the causes and treatment of allergies
Andrology, the study of male health
Anesthesiology, the study of anesthesia and anesthetics
Angiology, the study of the anatomy of blood and lymph vascular systems
Anthropology, the study of humans
Apiology, the study of bees
Arachnology, the study of spiders
Archaeology, the study of past cultures
Archaeozoology, the study of relationships between humans and animals over time
Areology, the study of Mars
Astacology, the study of crawfish
Astrobiology, the study of origin of life
Astrogeology, the study of geology of celestial bodies
Audiology, the study of hearing
Autecology, the study of the ecology of any individual species
Bacteriology, the study of bacteria
Bioecology, the study of interaction of life in the environment
Biology, the study of life
Bromatology, the study of food
Cardiology, the study of the heart 
Cariology, the study of cells 
Cetology, the study of cetaceans (e.g., whales, dolphins)
Climatology, the study of the climate 
Coleopterology, the study of beetles 
Conchology, the study of shells and of molluscs 
Coniology, the study of dust in the atmosphere and its effects on living organisms
Craniology, the study of the characteristics of the skull
Criminology, the scientific study of crime 
Cryology, the study of very low temperatures and related phenomena
Cynology, the study of dogs
Cytology, the study of cells
Cytomorphology, the study of the structure of cells
Cytopathology, the branch of pathology that studies diseases on the cellular level
Dendrochronology, the study of the age of trees and the records in their rings
Dendrology, the study of trees
Dermatology, the study of the skin
Dermatopathology, the field of dermatological anatomical pathology
Desmology, the study of ligaments 
Diabetology, the study of diabetes mellitus
Dipterology, the study of flies 
Ecohydrology, the study of interactions between organisms and the water cycle
Ecology, the study of the relationships between living organisms and their environment
Ecophysiology, the study of the interrelationship between an organism’s physical functioning and its environment
Edaphology, a branch of soil science that studies the influence of soil on life
Electrophysiology, the study of the relationship between electric phenomena and bodily processes 
Embryology, the study of embryos 
Endocrinology, the study of internal secretory glands 
Entomology, the study of insects 
Enzymology, the study of enzymes 
Epidemiology, the study of the origin and spread of diseases 
Ethology, the study of animal behavior 
Exobiology, the study of life in outer space 
Exogeology, the study of geology of celestial bodies

 Felinology, the study of cats 
Fetology, the study of the fetus
Sometimes spelled foetology Formicology, the study of ants 
Gastrology or Gastroenterology, the study of the stomach and intestines 
Gemology, the study of gemstones
Geobiology, the study of the biosphere and its relations to the lithosphere and atmosphere 
Geochronology, the study of the age of the Earth
Geology, the study of the Earth 
Geomorphology, the study of present-day landforms
Gerontology, the study of old age 
Glaciology, the study of glaciers 
Gynecology, the study of medicine relating to women
Hematology, the study of blood 
Heliology, the study of the sun 
Helioseismology, the study of vibrations and oscillations in the sun
Helminthology, the study of parasitic worms
Hepatology, the study of the liver
Herbology, the study of the therapeutic use of plants 
Herpetology, the study of reptiles and amphibians 
Heteroptology, the study of true bugs 
Hippology, study of horses 
Histology, the study of living tissues 
Histopathology, the study of the microscopic structure of diseased tissue
Hydrogeology, the study of underground water
Hydrology, the study of water 
Ichnology, the study of fossil footprints, tracks, and burrows
Ichthyology, the study of fish 
Immunology, the study of the immune system 
Karyology, the study of karyotypes (a branch of cytology) 
Kinesiology, the study of movement in relation to human anatomy
Kymatology, the study of waves or wave motions 
Laryngology, the study of the larynx
Lepidopterology, the study of butterflies and moths 
Limnology, the study of fresh water environments
Lithology, the study of rocks 
Lymphology, the study of the lymph system and glands 
Malacology, the study of mollusks 
Mammalogy, the study of mammals 
Meteorology, the study of weather 
Methodology, the study of methods 
Metrology, the study of measurement 
Microbiology, the study of micro-organisms 
Micrology, the science of preparing and handling microscopic objects
Mineralogy, the study of minerals 
Mycology, the study of fungi
Myology, the scientific study of muscles
Myrmecology, the study of ants
Nanotechnology, the study of machines at the molecular level
Nanotribology, the study of friction on the molecular and atomic scale
Nematology, the study of nematodes
Neonatology, the study of newborn infants
Nephology, the study of clouds
Nephrology, the study of the kidneys
Neurology, the study of nerves
Neuropathology, the study of neural diseases
Neurophysiology, the study of the functions of the nervous system
Nosology, the study of disease classification
Oceanology, the study of oceans
Odonatology, the study of dragonflies and damselflies
Odontology, the study of the teeth
Oncology, the study of cancer
Oology, the study of eggs
Ophthalmology, the study of the eyes
Ornithology, the study of birds
Orology, the study of mountains and their mapping
Orthopterology, the study of grasshoppers and crickets
Osteology, the study of bones
Otolaryngology, the study of the ear and throat
Otology, the study of the ear
Otorhinolaryngology, the study of the ear, nose and throatPaleoanthropology, the study of prehistoric people and human origins
Paleobiology, the study of prehistoric life 
Paleobotany, the study of prehistoric metaphytes
Paleoclimatology, the study of prehistoric climates 
Paleoecology, the study of prehistoric environments by analyzing fossils and rock strata 
Paleontology, the study of fossils of ancient life 
Paleophytology, the study of ancient multicellular plants 
Paleozoology, the study of prehistoric metazoans
Palynology, the study of pollen 
Parapsychology, the study of paranormal or psychic phenomenon that defy conventional scientific explanations 
Parasitology, the study of parasites 
Pathology, the study of illness 
Petrology, the study of rocks and the conditions by which they form 
Pharmacology, the study of drugs 
Phenology, the study of periodic biological phenomena
Phlebology, a branch of medicine that deals with the venous system
Phonology, the study of vocal sounds
Phycology, the study of algae 
Physiology, the study of the functions of living organisms 
Phytology, the study of plants; botany
Phytopathology, the study of plant diseases
Phytosociology, the study of the ecology of plant communities 
Planetology, the study of planets and solar systems
Planktology, the study of plankton 
Pomology, the scientific study of fruits 
Posology, the study of drug dosage 
Primatology, the study of primates 
Proctology, the medical study of the rectum, anus, colon and pelvic floor
Psychobiology, the study and psychology of organisms with regard to their functions and structures 
Psychology, the study of mental processes in living creatures 
Psychopathology, the study of mental illness or disorders 
Psychopharmacology, the study of psychotropic or psychiatric drugs 
Psychophysiology, the study of the physiological bases of psychological processes 
Pulmonology, the specialty in medicine that deals with diseases of the lungs and the respiratory tract 
Radiology, the study of rays, usually ionising radiation 
Reflexology, originally the study of reflexes or of reflex responses
Rheology, the study of flow 
Rheumatology, the study of rheumatic diseases
Rhinology, the study of the nose
Sarcology, a subsection of anatomy that studies the soft tissues
Scatology, the study of feces
Sedimentology, a branch of geology that studies sediments 
Seismology, the study of earthquakes 
Selenology, the study of the moon 
Serology, the study of blood serum 
Sexology, the study of sex 
Sitiology, the study of diet
Sociobiology, the study of the effect of evolution on ethology 
Sociology, the study of society 
Somatology, study of human characteristics 
Somnology, the study of sleep
Speleology, the study or exploration of caves
Stomatology, the study of the mouth
Symptomatology, the study of symptoms
Synecology, the study of the ecological interrelationships
Technology, the study of the practical arts 
Thermology, the study of heat
Tocology, the study of childbirth
Topology, the mathematical study of closeness and connectedness
Toxicology, the study of poisons
Traumatology, the study of wounds and injuries.
Tribology, the study of friction and lubrication
Trichology, the study of hair and the scalp
Typology, the study of classification
Urology, the study of the urogenital tract.
Vaccinology, the study of vaccines
Virology, the study of viruses
Volcanology (or vulcanology), the study of volcanoes
Xenobiology, the study of non-terrestrial life
Xylology, the study of wood
Zooarchaeology, the study and analysis of animal remains at archaeological sites to reconstruct relationships between people, animals, and their environment
Zoology, the study of animals
Zoopathology, the study of animal diseases
Zoopsychology, the study of mental processes in animals
Zymology, the study of fermentation.

hypernova-011 Hyper-nova
If a stellar hyper-nova explosion occurred close to our Solar System, the ensuing blast of high-energy gamma radiation would tear apart the DNA coding of every living organism within several miles of the surface of our planet. All that would be left are the simplest of bacteria which feed on inorganic substances deep within the Earths crust. Our planet would be left as it was two billion years ago.

2 Supervolcanic eruption: If a VEI (Volcanic Explosivity Index) 8 volcano erupted anywhere on the planet then the entire world would be affected.The eruption itself would pulverize anything within tens or hundreds of miles of the vent. This was spectacularly demonstrated at Yellowstone park several hundred thousand years ago. The volcano obliterated a ninety kilometre stretch of mountain range at a distance of seventy kilometres. Over a thousand cubic kilometres of ash,lava, gas and dust would permeate into the atmosphere and cover the ground. Global temperatures would fall as the ash in the atmosphere reflected sunlight back into space. This would trigger an Ice Age like phenomenon known as volcanic winter which could last for centuries.Humans would run out of food and fresh water…resulting in massive reduction in populations of all large life forms worldwide, including humans.

3 Nuclear Holocaust
With our current nuclear arsenal we could theoretically kill up to half of the humans alive on the planet. After a nuclear conflict the affected area(s) would be riddled with “dead zones” where the radiation concentration is too high for human habitation for years afterward. The clouds of nuclear particles could cause a nuclear winter. This is similar to the volcanic equivalent but has the added problem of the radiation produced by the decay of unstable isotopes of uranium and plutonium.

4 Global sea level rise
This is a little less violent that the other options but a lot more likely.
If the entire Northern ice cap melted, no one would care (except polar bears) as the ice is already floating on, therefore displacing, water. So if the whole lot melts then no sea level rise will occur. This is a bit like your vodka martini not getting bigger as the ice melts.
However if Greenland’s ice cap or the Southern sheet were to melt then the result would be catastrophic. Huge swathes of land would be wiped out including most major cities and population centres.

5 Asteroid Strike
This would have been top but it is just so overused.
An asteroid one hundred metres across would destroy a city sized area with approximately the force of a sizable nuclear weapon.The reason it has so much power is its speed. Even when the atmosphere shrinks and slows it using friction,it still slams into the Earth with resounding force at thousands of kilometres an hour. If the asteroid is four to six thousand metres across then it has mass extinction potential. An asteroid of approximately this size dusted up the dinosaurs and it could do the same to us. A body ninety thousand kilometres across would vaporise our oceans and sterilise the planet. If the asteroid (or planetoid) was less than about a hundred thousand times less massive than Earth,it would break open the planet and the heat energy would return it to its state at the beginning of the Solar System.

To be continued.