Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Next, for dealing with the exhaled breath of the house's occupants, we have an airflow system that takes air from the house, and bubbles it through a hydroxide. All metal hydroxides react with carbon dioxide to form carbonates, which filters the carbon out of the air. Calcium hydroxide would be my primary choice, as this produces heat when synthesized, and is easily cleaned due to calcium carbonate being insoluble in water. You could even check visually to see when a hydroxide sample is worn down and needs replacement. Unfortunately, the synthesis of calcium hydroxide is more complex than sodium hydroxide, which can be produced by electrolyzing salt water. Enormous vats of hydroxides keep the air carbon free.
Over at the greenhouse, the metal carbonates produced by the air filtration system are bought to a lime kiln or vat of strong acid. The carbon becomes liberated from the metal, and spews forth throughout the greenhouse. This suits the plants fine, as the original earth's atmosphere was something like 30% carbon dioxide. As far as plants are concerned, modern earth is polluted all to hell with oxygen, which they produce as waste.
I wanted to make this a closed cyclical system, in which the greenhouse reset the conditions of the house, and vice versa. This would be necessary in space, where the gathering of additional materials is not possible. In space, if you did not bring with you, then you do not have it. I would recommend a calcium based system for this:
CaCO3 + HCl → CaCl2 + CO2 + H2O
H2O + electricity → H2 + O2
CaCl2 → Ca + Cl2 H2 + Cl2 → HCl
Ca + O2 → CaO
CaO + H2 → Ca(OH)2
Ca(OH)2 + CO2 → CaCO3
On earth, a sodium based system is probably more practical: NaCl + H2O → NaOH + Cl
NaOH + CO2 → NaCO3 + H2O
CH3COOH + NaCO3 → CH3CO2Na You now have an endless supply of hand warmer and poison gas.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
When I push this button, current runs through tiny wires in my car's back window, and the resistance to this heats the window up. The head makes water deposited on this window by condensation evaporate, making the window clear for me to see out of. This is legally mandated for my car, as lawmakers think it a reasonable expectation that I be able to see what the hell is going on behind me when I drive.
The windshield, though, or front window, is defogged by blowing hot air from the engine. This is partially because the engine is right below it, and this is a ready source of heat, but mostly because the little wires would be way too prominent at that close a distance. The back window is six feet away from me, the driver. The little black lines are just too tiny to notice at that distance. The windshield, though, is merely inches away. To put little wires here would mean looking a little black lines constantly while I drive.
Let us suppose, though, that I didn't mind the wires, but needed some sort of automated system, so I don't have to bother with the button. I think I would resolve this by materials science.
I would need to produce a material that conducted electricity, but developed greater resistance under low temperatures. In temperate environments, where the window does not fog up, the wires conduct efficiently, and very little heat is produced. However, in colder environments where my own body heat makes a temperature gradient that encourages condensation, the resistance rises considerably, producing heat, and evaporating this fog before it can really get started.
Nah, there's defoggers set up the way they are for a reason.
However, if I were redesigning cars, I would make each of its vents independent. The front vents for blowing air at my face, the lower vents that blow air at my feet, and the vents that blow air at the outer windshield would each have their own dial for temperature and amount of air. As I turn the amount of air dials up, a fan in the vent is given more voltage, making it rotate faster and push more air. As I turn the temperature dial up, more of the air is routed past the radiator.
Friday, December 28, 2012
Friday, December 14, 2012
Once upon a time, there was a bird-owning engineer with a problem: his African Grey Parrot would, like most of their species, become very upset when away from what they considered the center of action in an area, and would start hooting and screeching for attention. His first solution was a noise-detecting squirt gun. At first this worked, and the spray of water would interrupt the screaming. Then the bird figured out how it worked and started intentionally triggering it for a quick bathtime, which parrots love. (African Greys have the intellectual capacity of a 3 year old on average, but have some skills that human children don't figure out until they're 12.)
It's not safe to let a parrot walk around unattended, one because they are immensely small and light and they will die if you step on them. (A medium sized parrot such as an African Grey weighs about one pound. The heaviest known parrot weighs 8 pounds.) Another reason is that they can chew on things on the floor, or even the floor itself, causing immense property damage. So his next idea was one that allowed the bird to travel around safely: a small motorized bird-controlled cart. The bird stands on a small perch, and pushes around a metal bar to control the cart. This way the bird could follow the humans of the house around without ever being underfoot or in the path of tempting electrical chords, rugs, or floor tiles.
The joystick component appeared to be one of the surprisingly larger engineering challenges. A parrot's beak evolved to crush nuts, is about a strong as a human with a pair of pliers, and they immensely enjoy ripping things to shreds with it. The top part can punch through wood like an awl, and the larger parrots can even destroy a steel cage. The joystick had to be designed in such a way to resist puncture, pressure, and had to endure being pulled on, all of which the bird almost assuredly tried to do.
The most challenging thing though, is that our enterprising engineer did not want to have to put this cart away every day when it's time for the bird to go to bed. The cart is designed with a computerized system that can find its way back to the charger, and slowly scoot the cart into position where it gets plugged in and charged back up for another day of bird-moving. This does so with computer-vision, which is remarkably difficult to do successfully. Also, it begins to do this the moment the parrot leaves the cart.
If I were this engineer, I would look into having this cart mass-produced.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Uranus is one of the odder planets in the solar system. It has a much greater axis of rotation, being either 96 or 106 degrees, depending on which of the two definitions you are using. If you are basing it on the way the planet rotates, and assuming the rightwards based rotation is the north pole, then it's 106 degrees. It's the coldest planet in the solar system. There is one planet further way, Neptune, and the numerous dwarf planets beyond like Pluto, but these have additional internal heat from radioactivity that warm them up.
But soon enough on geological time, Uranus will have to become our home. In one billion years, our home star will become a red giant star. The innermost planets will be incinerated, and if we can't move the earth in time, it will be charred into a lifeless glowing rock. And we too would be baked if we can't move the earth in time.
When the red giant phase is complete, the habitable zone, currently in our orbit, will have moved to the Uranus orbit. I'd like to believe that we'll move the earth into being a new moon, but in all practicality, we'll probably just abandon the earth and rebuild on the various moons that are already there.
We'll need energy, in greater quantities than I can readily imagine, and technology that I can't even dream of, but we have a billion years to do it.