Archive for January 2010
You are browsing the archives of 2010 January.
You are browsing the archives of 2010 January.
If you liked the post below, I urge you to check out the KINETICA 2009 video. It’s full of demonstrations of kinetic art that depend on electronics, sensors, glass, steel and a variety of technical materials. (Sorry, but there is no direct link to the video: after clicking on the opening graphic, look for “Videos” under the “Media” menu option.)
For you glass aficionados, in particular, I recommend checking out Tom Wilkinson’s “Light Wave” made of what he says is about one-third of a ton of undulating glass rods mounted on a cam shaft that makes it ripple like water.
Squidsoup is back! Titled “Oceans of Light,” this time, the groups latest artwork is made by using reconfigured video-wall technology to create a walk-through 3D grid of LEDs. The idea is to create an immersed experience of light-based visualizations in three physical dimensions. They have designed to piece to be large enough to be considered an environment rather than an object – a room filled with countless points of light, each one contributing to a dynamic space that surrounds and envelops participant.
The first piece to be shown on the grid is to be be premiered at KINETICA Art Fair, Feb. 5-7 2010 in London. combines abstract volumetric visuals with spatialized sound, to suggest an ecosystem of audiovisual entities that inhabit physical space. Visible and audible as they encircle and fly around the room, they dance with each other and together create what is both a fully three dimensional audiovisual environment and a musical composition.
President Obama spoke about a renewed push for nuclear-based energy solutions in his SOTU speech, and Friday DOE Secretary Chu announced the appointment of the “Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.” The misnamed commission is supposed to provide “advice and make recommendations on issues including alternatives for the storage, processing, and disposal of civilian and defense spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste.” I say misnamed because finding a solution to used fuel and waste is a big problem – but not the only big problem with the nation’s “Nuclear Future.”
To be sure, I am glad that the administration is acting quickly on its promise. But based on the commission’s makeup, I think the Obama/DOE strategy to a large extent is misdirected. The commission is being co-chaired by former Congressman Lee Hamilton and former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. Other commissioners include some good people from science and academia, but it also has a lot of others who are there for window dressing.
I do get that such commissions have to be bipartisan and cover a range of science-policy/government-industry representatives. Also, I get that there are security aspects to both the inputs and wastes from reactors. But having both chairs be individuals closely tied with national security seems to me to send an odd and misguided message.
For a new generation of nuclear power facilities to be built, the biggest hurdle will be (and has been) a wide range of public fears. A recent Gallup poll showed that while support is growing, it is very tentative: 59% of Americans support nuclear power, but only 27% support it strongly. Support is also very divided by political affiliation and gender. And, despite all of the discusses over the past few years about finding new energy solutions, support for nuclear power has barely inched up from 2005 (54%). And, 63% say they oppose building a new nuclear facility in their area. In other words, the support for a nuclear resurgence could be easily shaken.
To move forward, besides a waste strategy, the administration is going to have to answer two other glaring questions for the public: Do we have the improved technology this time around? and Do we have an effective regulatory system in place given that some of the private operators proved to be unreliable or untrustworthy?
From a science and technology point of view, there are some promising developments, such as fast reactors, that need to be examined. If it turns out they are worthwhile, they need to be explained to the public by people that know what they are talking about, not government mouthpieces or PR staff. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that new commission is going to be going in that direction.
Besides Hamilton and Scowcroft, the commission has 13 other members (and you can probably tell who knows anything in particular about domestic nuclear energy generation and who doesn’t):
The commission will produce an interim report within 18 months and a final report within 24 months.
GE recently overhauled its blog and its worth stopping by to see the goodies. The blog, called “Edison’s Desk,” looks great and promises to cover lots of news related to what GE is working on, including materials science-related topics. It also looks like the blog is going to cover stories outside GE that the staff think are interesting and worth monitoring.
I am especially excited that ACerS member Kristen Brosnan will be one of their regular editors/contributors, especially on ceramics and metallurgy topics. Brosnan has been working in energy and environmental projects including solid-oxide fuel cells, NOx sensors and waste heat generators. She is a dynamic young professional who is definitely worth watching in the future.
Kristen is already attending conferences with mini video cam in hand, so anticipate great things ahead in her posts!