Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Solid Tires

When I think about tires, the more I realize how completely weird they are.   Our roads are full of vehicles that ride on inflated air.  Why?  A completely solid tire would cause too much wear on the road, but they're also vulnerable to puncture, deflation, and so on.

There's a number of reasons that we do this.  Tires need to be soft enough to not damage the road that you're driving the car on, provide enough friction to prevent the car from sliding, and hard enough that the engine doesn't get overtaxed by pushing them.  (Deflated tires have a greater resistance to actually turning). 

So the usual solution is to have inflated tires, filled to a set pressure.  (Mine is 35 PSI, about twice atmospheric pressure.)   If driving conditions change, you can inflate it more, for greater gas milage, or less, for more traction.  For instance, in a very sandy road, I might want to deflate my tires to 20PSI to make sure that I don't skid.

However, since basically 100% of my driving is on cement or asphalt roads, which change very little, and puncturing a tire is a severe problem, I was thinking, as a longer lasting solution of a tire that instead of being inflated, was filled with a memory-foam like substance.  This tire could not be punctured, would perpetually remain balanced, and could be used until the treads physically wore off.

On the downside, if you did ever need the characteristics of the tire to change, you'd have to pretty much have to remove all four tires and put on four new ones.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sea Bucket

During a lunch break, I saw a "ha-ha, only serious" article suggesting that we deal with sea level rise by flooding arctic Canada. Why? Several reasons:

  1. No one lives there.  90% of Canada lives within 100 miles of the US border.
  2. North of the tree line, the plant life stops being all that interesting
  3. No real commercial interest in the area either
Of course, Canada will raise objections to this plan, if no other reason than because it makes them lose territory for no good reason.  However, thinking about it gave me an idea.

I can model the ocean as a bucket, 5 miles deep, with a trickle of water being added to it.  (The rise is more related to its change in temperature, but that'd be harder to model in the small scale.)   We as humans can dig far deeper than that.   I'm thinking of the borehole studies like the Kola borehole, where we dug down as deep as we could just to see what was there.  Previous knowledge of the depths of the earth was based on seismic studies, in which we bounced sound off of it.  Things got weird.

The kola borehole went down 40,000 feet.   The further the geologists drilled, the stranger it became, and the more often the drill would break and have to be replaced.  The environment at depth was over 360 degrees (180C), and they reported clouds of hydrogen gas. 

Accordingly, in a location of low commercial value, but still near the ocean, we dig as deep a hole as we can manage, build a geothermal plant over it, then dig a shaft from our hole to the ocean.   Water from the ocean drains into our hole, gets superheated into steam, and turns the turbines in the geothermal plant.  The water then condenses into fresh drinkable water.  The first place that would be good to do this would be the Kola borehole itself, if the Russian government is amenable to this.

Ideally we would pipe this water into the various fossil water reservoirs that we've been using all these years, but in practice I have a nagging feeling that the water will be sold to the highest bidder.   Probably a bottled water company.

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