'IT' info...

Posted by Sean Perkins at 03/08/2001 1:07 AM EST

Student on team #131, CHAOS- Central High and Osram Sylvania, from Manchester High School Central and Osram Sylvaina and Fleet Bank.

For what it’s worth (no pun intended):

http://www.fosters.com/news_2001a/mar_01/07/w-nh0307b.htm

http://www.theunionleader.com/articles_show.html?article=12858

Posted by Gary Bonner at 03/08/2001 1:06 PM EST

Other on team #433, Firebirds, from Mount Saint Joseph Academy and SCT Corp., FMC Corp…

In Reply to: ‘IT’ info…
Posted by Sean Perkins on 03/08/2001 1:07 AM EST:

Also for what it’s worth…

I received a copy of the latest Edmund’s Scientific catalog today. On the cover they have a sterling engine that runs on a hot cup of coffee.

Time to sell that Exxon stock and invest in Starbucks?

Posted by Patrick Dingle at 03/08/2001 7:04 PM EST

Coach on team #639, Red B^2, from Ithaca High School and Cornell University.

In Reply to: Sterling Engine
Posted by Gary Bonner on 03/08/2001 1:06 PM EST:

Some say the combustable engine was one of the greatest inventions of all time. It was an important an necessary step in the progression of technology, but I will be more than happy to see it go.

Some of the biproducts in gasoline can give us lung cancer. I feel bad for the people in big cities that breath it in every day. Combustion engines spew CO2 into the atmosphere in huge quantities, far more than forests and the ocean can absorb. This has caused global warming, and will quickly get worse until these engines are eliminated. Gasoline supplies will eventually run out.

What really irritates me is how politicians don’t care about this problem (they all say they do, but they’re all hypocrites). With the high gasoline prices, they did not talk about exploring alternatives to gasoline, but opening up parts of Alaska for drilling.

THANK YOU Dean Kamen and DEKA for addressing this important problem. If a car comes out that runs on a modification of the Sterling Engine, I will be among the first to buy it. Hopefully costs will be low enough that combustion engines will forever disappear. Next, let’s get rid of all the power plants that use combustion as a means to produce power. Unfortanutely this invention will cause a HUGE shift in the world economy, and many countries will lose their one and only primary export – gasoline. However, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

Dean Kamen is eliminating all the negative sides of technology.

Patrick

: Also for what it’s worth…

: I received a copy of the latest Edmund’s Scientific catalog today. On the cover they have a sterling engine that runs on a hot cup of coffee.

: Time to sell that Exxon stock and invest in Starbucks?

Posted by ChrisH at 03/08/2001 8:13 PM EST

Engineer on team #330, Beach 'Bots, from Hope Chapel Academy and NASA JPL, J & F Machine, Raytheon, et al.

In Reply to: Re: Sterling Engine
Posted by Patrick Dingle on 03/08/2001 7:04 PM EST:

Patrick,

You raised many debatable points that are obviously products of the pseudoscience popular in the press. I will address them one at a time.

: Some say the combustable engine was one of the greatest inventions of all time. It was an important an necessary step in the progression of technology, but I will be more than happy to see it go.

Never heard of a combustable engine. Since most engines work by converting thermal energy into mechanical energy I don’t think it would work very well. I think you were refering to the internal combustion engine. I don’t necessarily think it was the greatest invention nor would I be sad to see it disappear if replaced by something better. You opening sentence merely points out that this is a debatable point. The debatability I agree with.

: Some of the biproducts in gasoline can give us lung cancer. I feel bad for the people in big cities that breath it in every day. Combustion engines spew CO2 into the atmosphere in huge quantities, far more than forests and the ocean can absorb. This has caused global warming, and will quickly get worse until these engines are eliminated. Gasoline supplies will eventually run out.

Actually I belive it is unburned or incompletely burned gasoline components that are the problem. Complete combustion releases H2O, CO, CO2 none of which are known carcinogens. If the fuel/air ratio isn’t perfect or the temperature is wrong you’ll get some NO or NOx. These aren’t carcinogens either.

The case for global warming is certainly not proved. While there does seem to be an increase in temperature readings over a fairly short period (climactically), whether or not this is evidence of a significant climactic change is unknowable at this point as data has not been collected long enough to establish a baseline.

Finally there is no way to pin so-called global warming on CO2 emmisions other than a computer model that seems to indicate this. There may be other factors involved, slight changes in Earth’s orbit or a fluctuation in solar energy output for example. Or a different chemical species (freon anyone?) Or merely putting all the temperature measuring stations on the top of a tall building with an asphalt roof, instead of the middle of a field where they used to be. I would be surprised to find even a single location where you could find temperature measurements had been taken for a century in the exact same location with the same instrument or instruments that could be calibrated to a common standard.

: What really irritates me is how politicians don’t care about this problem (they all say they do, but they’re all hypocrites). With the high gasoline prices, they did not talk about exploring alternatives to gasoline, but opening up parts of Alaska for drilling.

Politics will never be the answer to technical issues. Politics is a product of government. Government’s
purpose is to help us all get along together and resolve people issues, not technical ones. Don’t blame them for not solving a problem (if it is one) they didn’t create nor are they equiped to solve.

: THANK YOU Dean Kamen and DEKA for addressing this important problem. If a car comes out that runs on a modification of the Sterling Engine, I will be among the first to buy it. Hopefully costs will be low enough that combustion engines will forever disappear. Next, let’s get rid of all the power plants that use combustion as a means to produce power. Unfortanutely this invention will cause a HUGE shift in the world economy, and many countries will lose their one and only primary export – gasoline. However, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

So you would maybe prefer Nuclear plants? Even Sterling engines need a temperature differential to run. If you light a wood fire to heat your coffee to run your sterling engine you’re using combustion and if you used it to generate electricity the efficiency
would be very low. Far lower than a modern coal fired
power plant. Since you posted this on a computer network I don’t suppose you object to having electricity, just how it’s made.

: Dean Kamen is eliminating all the negative sides of technology.

I don’t think even he would claim that. Besides you never solve a problem, you merely change the old problems for a new set. The only question is whether the new or old set is easier to live with. I’m sure that any revolutionary invention will create a new set of problems that at the outset are quite unanticipated. For example automobiles were often praised in the early days for eliminating the fly problems in large cities. (where you have horses there will be flies) Which problem would you rather deal with flies or smog?

This is too long already but things are rarely as simple as they seem. Nothing personal Patrick, the media rarely publishes the criticisms of theories they think are “right” (as in they fit with thier agenda, no relation to factuality). Consequently you are probably unaware of the controversy around some of these issues.

Christopher H Husmann, PE
team 330 The Beach’Bots

Posted by Patrick Dingle at 03/08/2001 9:27 PM EST

Coach on team #639, Red B^2, from Ithaca High School and Cornell University.

In Reply to: Re: Sterling Engine
Posted by ChrisH on 03/08/2001 8:13 PM EST:

Thanks for your response. I have done a lot of study in this field and would like to reply to your comments. I will respond tomorrow in depth after I finish my Calc homework (argh).

Patrick

: Patrick,

: You raised many debatable points that are obviously products of the pseudoscience popular in the press. I will address them one at a time.

: : Some say the combustable engine was one of the greatest inventions of all time. It was an important an necessary step in the progression of technology, but I will be more than happy to see it go.

: Never heard of a combustable engine. Since most engines work by converting thermal energy into mechanical energy I don’t think it would work very well. I think you were refering to the internal combustion engine. I don’t necessarily think it was the greatest invention nor would I be sad to see it disappear if replaced by something better. You opening sentence merely points out that this is a debatable point. The debatability I agree with.

: : Some of the biproducts in gasoline can give us lung cancer. I feel bad for the people in big cities that breath it in every day. Combustion engines spew CO2 into the atmosphere in huge quantities, far more than forests and the ocean can absorb. This has caused global warming, and will quickly get worse until these engines are eliminated. Gasoline supplies will eventually run out.

: Actually I belive it is unburned or incompletely burned gasoline components that are the problem. Complete combustion releases H2O, CO, CO2 none of which are known carcinogens. If the fuel/air ratio isn’t perfect or the temperature is wrong you’ll get some NO or NOx. These aren’t carcinogens either.

: The case for global warming is certainly not proved. While there does seem to be an increase in temperature readings over a fairly short period (climactically), whether or not this is evidence of a significant climactic change is unknowable at this point as data has not been collected long enough to establish a baseline.

: Finally there is no way to pin so-called global warming on CO2 emmisions other than a computer model that seems to indicate this. There may be other factors involved, slight changes in Earth’s orbit or a fluctuation in solar energy output for example. Or a different chemical species (freon anyone?) Or merely putting all the temperature measuring stations on the top of a tall building with an asphalt roof, instead of the middle of a field where they used to be. I would be surprised to find even a single location where you could find temperature measurements had been taken for a century in the exact same location with the same instrument or instruments that could be calibrated to a common standard.

: : What really irritates me is how politicians don’t care about this problem (they all say they do, but they’re all hypocrites). With the high gasoline prices, they did not talk about exploring alternatives to gasoline, but opening up parts of Alaska for drilling.

: Politics will never be the answer to technical issues. Politics is a product of government. Government’s
: purpose is to help us all get along together and resolve people issues, not technical ones. Don’t blame them for not solving a problem (if it is one) they didn’t create nor are they equiped to solve.

: : THANK YOU Dean Kamen and DEKA for addressing this important problem. If a car comes out that runs on a modification of the Sterling Engine, I will be among the first to buy it. Hopefully costs will be low enough that combustion engines will forever disappear. Next, let’s get rid of all the power plants that use combustion as a means to produce power. Unfortanutely this invention will cause a HUGE shift in the world economy, and many countries will lose their one and only primary export – gasoline. However, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

: So you would maybe prefer Nuclear plants? Even Sterling engines need a temperature differential to run. If you light a wood fire to heat your coffee to run your sterling engine you’re using combustion and if you used it to generate electricity the efficiency
: would be very low. Far lower than a modern coal fired
: power plant. Since you posted this on a computer network I don’t suppose you object to having electricity, just how it’s made.

: : Dean Kamen is eliminating all the negative sides of technology.

: I don’t think even he would claim that. Besides you never solve a problem, you merely change the old problems for a new set. The only question is whether the new or old set is easier to live with. I’m sure that any revolutionary invention will create a new set of problems that at the outset are quite unanticipated. For example automobiles were often praised in the early days for eliminating the fly problems in large cities. (where you have horses there will be flies) Which problem would you rather deal with flies or smog?

: This is too long already but things are rarely as simple as they seem. Nothing personal Patrick, the media rarely publishes the criticisms of theories they think are “right” (as in they fit with thier agenda, no relation to factuality). Consequently you are probably unaware of the controversy around some of these issues.

: Christopher H Husmann, PE
: team 330 The Beach’Bots

Posted by Steve Alaniz at 03/09/2001 10:57 AM EST

Other on team #57 from Houston Regional co-ordinator.

In Reply to: Re: Sterling Engine
Posted by Patrick Dingle on 03/08/2001 9:27 PM EST:

Combustable Engine???.. Isn’t that what the Shuttle
uses to get into orbit??? The solid fuel boosters?
(People who know me will understand…)

Steve Alaniz

: : : Some say the combustable engine was one of the
greatest inventions of all time. It was an important
an necessary step in the progression of technology, but
I will be more than happy to see it go.

: : Never heard of a combustable engine. Since most
engines work by converting thermal energy into
mechanical energy I don’t think it would work very
well. I think you were refering to the internal
combustion engine.

Posted by Joe Johnson at 03/08/2001 9:38 PM EST

Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

In Reply to: Re: Sterling Engine
Posted by ChrisH on 03/08/2001 8:13 PM EST:

Chris,

I nearly kissed my monitor when I read your reply. I
wasn’t sure I was up for the detailed answer I would
have to make if I answered at all. Your great reply
saved me the bother.

Joe J. P.E.

P.S. By the way, do you need your Professional
Engineering License for your day job? I more or less
got mine as a personal goal, not really needing it to
work in the auto industry. Just curious. Your
thoughtful and gracious messages on these forums have
made me proud to be a member of the P.E. club. Keep up
the good work. JJ

Posted by ChrisH at 03/09/2001 2:39 PM EST

Engineer on team #330, Beach 'Bots, from Hope Chapel Academy and NASA JPL, J & F Machine, Raytheon, et al.

In Reply to: Long live ChrisH, P.E.
Posted by Joe Johnson on 03/08/2001 9:38 PM EST:

Joe,

Thank you for your kind words.

No, I do not need my PE in my day job. However it does give me a little more credibility than the average Manufacturing Engineer when I need to tell a stress guy or designer that yes it works structurally, but you need to do it this way if you want to actually build it.

I actually did it for my own satisfaction and because things were looking lean in the aerospace industry. I figured I would have a better chance of getting into something else with it than without it. Fortunately this has not yet been necessary. Besides, the problems were fun!

Our team is blessed with not one but three ME PEs and neither of the other two need it for their day job. Maybe we can get together in FL and swap war stories.

Chris Husmann, PE
Team 330 the Beach’Bots

Posted by bill whitley at 03/10/2001 11:35 AM EST

Student on team #70, Auto City Bandits, from Powers Catholic High School and Kettering University.

In Reply to: Long live ChrisH, P.E.
Posted by Joe Johnson on 03/08/2001 9:38 PM EST:

: Chris,

: I nearly kissed my monitor when I read your reply. I
: wasn’t sure I was up for the detailed answer I would
: have to make if I answered at all. Your great reply
: saved me the bother.

: Joe J. P.E.

: P.S. By the way, do you need your Professional
: Engineering License for your day job? I more or less
: got mine as a personal goal, not really needing it to
: work in the auto industry. Just curious. Your
: thoughtful and gracious messages on these forums have
: made me proud to be a member of the P.E. club. Keep up
: the good work. JJ

Posted by Joe Johnson at 03/10/2001 12:10 PM EST

Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

In Reply to: What is a P.E.? (eom)
Posted by bill whitley on 03/10/2001 11:35 AM EST:

In order to get a Professional Engineering (P.E.) license
by the state you have to have a set amount of
experience (typically 5 years) and you have to pass 2
tests (a general engineering test, typically taken
right after college and a more detailed test in the
area you specialize in, taken after you have a number
of years of practical engineering experience).

In order to work in some fields you are required to
have your P.E. license (for example, government
contracts often require that the work be done by a
P.E.). Other fields do not require the license but
engineers often get the license anyway for either
personal gratification or for other reasons.

On balance, I recommend that you consider taking the
test right out of school. It is a lot easier to take
the test while it is fresh in your head. You can
always decide not to sit for the second test, but once
the general information goes stale in your brain it can
be a lot of work to study for the test.

I recommend more folks get their P.E. license. I
believe that it will help the whole profession get more
respect.

Joseph Johnson, P.E.

Posted by Patrick Dingle at 03/08/2001 11:04 PM EST

Coach on team #639, Red B^2, from Ithaca High School and Cornell University.

In Reply to: Re: Sterling Engine
Posted by ChrisH on 03/08/2001 8:13 PM EST:

Again thanks for your thoughtful and detailed reply! Hopefully I can help clarify what I was saying and respond to your points.

: Patrick,

: You raised many debatable points that are obviously products of the pseudoscience popular in the press. I will address them one at a time.

With all respect, my points came from neither the press nor from pseudoscience, but from my own studies carried about with scientific methods, and from other papers that I have read, also carried out by scientists. I assure you I have no intention of believing a word that comes from the press, especially when it comes to science because they are absolutely clueless.

: : Some say the combustable engine was one of the greatest inventions of all time. It was an important an necessary step in the progression of technology, but I will be more than happy to see it go.

: Never heard of a combustable engine. Since most engines work by converting thermal energy into mechanical energy I don’t think it would work very well. I think you were refering to the internal combustion engine. I don’t necessarily think it was the greatest invention nor would I be sad to see it disappear if replaced by something better. You opening sentence merely points out that this is a debatable point. The debatability I agree with.

Of course I meant combustion engine. It was obviously a typo since in all other instances I used the correct spelling, “combustion”.

: : Some of the biproducts in gasoline can give us lung cancer. I feel bad for the people in big cities that breath it in every day. Combustion engines spew CO2 into the atmosphere in huge quantities, far more than forests and the ocean can absorb. This has caused global warming, and will quickly get worse until these engines are eliminated. Gasoline supplies will eventually run out.

: Actually I belive it is unburned or incompletely burned gasoline components that are the problem. Complete combustion releases H2O, CO, CO2 none of which are known carcinogens. If the fuel/air ratio isn’t perfect or the temperature is wrong you’ll get some NO or NOx. These aren’t carcinogens either.

Granted, we may not have proven any link between car fumes and cancer, but come on… It isn’t pleasant to inhale, and it is bad for for your health. You can correct me on technicalities, but this just isn’t a debatable point.

: The case for global warming is certainly not proved. While there does seem to be an increase in temperature readings over a fairly short period (climactically), whether or not this is evidence of a significant climactic change is unknowable at this point as data has not been collected long enough to establish a baseline.

Granted, it’s not proven (nothing in science ever is). However, the evidence is overwhelming. The evidence comes in two flavors. First, there is the statistical evidence that shows that global average temperatures have risen and fallen over the past 200 years with correspondance to the amount of CO2 that released. I did a statistical study of these two sets of data last year (If I can find my report I’ll post the graphs), and statistically the closeness of the two graphs were astonishing. During times that very little CO2 was released (pre-WWI, recession times, etc…), the global temparatures would often start to go down, often a year or so after CO2 emissions started going down. Correspondingly, temperatures would normally start going up shortly after CO2 emissions started increasing. Using mathematical models on the data, I found that, for the amount of CO2 released during any given year, the effect on the global temperature would expenentially decay over time. This means that, for any given year, temperatures would MOST CLOSELY (this is the essence of math modeling) correspond to the sum of each year’s CO2 emission times the exponential decay factor to the appropriate power. I think the decay factor was about 0.7 a year, or a half life of about 1.5 years. More generally, what this means is that if there is an extended period of low CO2 emissions, and then there is a hike, then the temperatures will go up, but the full effect will not be realized for several years after the increase in CO2 emissions. Likewise, when CO2 emissions decrease, the temperatures will go down, but at some delay. From my study (not any propaganda from pseudoscientific left extremest media freaks), I found that the statistical evidence was absolutely overwhelming.

The interesting thing about my study, is that when I started, I was extremely skeptical that global warming was caused by humans. When I actually did my research project, looked and examined the data, there was just no way I could make the case that it isn’t caused by (at least in a major part) by humans.

Now the second set of evidence that shows human CO2 emissions cause global warming is the “scientific” (not mathematical and statistical) evidence. I have not studied this part in depth, but from the papers I have read, it has been proven that CO2 causes global warming. It also has been proven that burning of fossil fuels gives off CO2. It also has been proven that humans burn fossil fuels. Therefore, it has been proven that humans cause global warming. However, I think the more relevent question here is:

To what extent do humans cause global warming?

This is the point where your argument has the most leverage, for this question is extremely difficult to scientifically quantatize a vector field of CO2 movement for an entire planet. This is why I took a statistical look at raw data.

: Finally there is no way to pin so-called global warming on CO2 emmisions other than a computer model that seems to indicate this. There may be other factors involved, slight changes in Earth’s orbit or a fluctuation in solar energy output for example. Or a different chemical species (freon anyone?) Or merely putting all the temperature measuring stations on the top of a tall building with an asphalt roof, instead of the middle of a field where they used to be. I would be surprised to find even a single location where you could find temperature measurements had been taken for a century in the exact same location with the same instrument or instruments that could be calibrated to a common standard.

I’ve read all these arguments before. Its funny, these are the same arguments I see over and over. These arguments seem very pseudo-scientific, since they are just speculation, and have no real data to show that different temperature-reading methods result in different temperature readings – especially an upward trend over time. It is certainly true that the methods and locations we use to record temperatures over time have changed. I also adressed this in my paper (which I REALLY wish I could find and send to you). However, the statistics even destroy this argument, for within smaller periods of times when the same methods / locations for recording temperatures, temperature still corresponded (not as overwhelmingly, but still statistically significant) to CO2 emissions. This includes both rises AND falls in CO2 emissions.

: : What really irritates me is how politicians don’t care about this problem (they all say they do, but they’re all hypocrites). With the high gasoline prices, they did not talk about exploring alternatives
to gasoline, but opening up parts of Alaska for drilling.

: Politics will never be the answer to technical issues. Politics is a product of government. Government’s
: purpose is to help us all get along together and resolve people issues, not technical ones. Don’t blame them for not solving a problem (if it is one) they didn’t create nor are they equiped to solve.

I agree with you there. Well said.

: : THANK YOU Dean Kamen and DEKA for addressing this important problem. If a car comes out that runs on a modification of the Sterling Engine, I will be among the first to buy it. Hopefully costs will be low enough that combustion engines will forever disappear. Next, let’s get rid of all the power plants that use combustion as a means to produce power. Unfortanutely this invention will cause a HUGE shift in the world economy, and many countries will lose their one and only primary export – gasoline. However, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

: So you would maybe prefer Nuclear plants? Even Sterling engines need a temperature differential to run. If you light a wood fire to heat your coffee to run your sterling engine you’re using combustion and if you used it to generate electricity the efficiency
: would be very low. Far lower than a modern coal fired
: power plant. Since you posted this on a computer network I don’t suppose you object to having electricity, just how it’s made.

There is no problem with generating heat (using electricity). That is not a problem, because of the law of conservation of energy. We will never increase temperatures on the planet by using electricity, because there is always an equal and opposite reaction that requires the heat for the chemical reaction to occur. What is the problem is trapping more and more energy from other celestial bodies (e.g. the sun).

: : Dean Kamen is eliminating all the negative sides of technology.

: I don’t think even he would claim that. Besides you never solve a problem, you merely change the old problems for a new set. The only question is whether the new or old set is easier to live with. I’m sure that any revolutionary invention will create a new set of problems that at the outset are quite unanticipated. For example automobiles were often praised in the early days for eliminating the fly problems in large cities. (where you have horses there will be flies) Which problem would you rather deal with flies or smog?

: This is too long already but things are rarely as simple as they seem. Nothing personal Patrick, the media rarely publishes the criticisms of theories they think are “right” (as in they fit with thier agenda, no relation to factuality). Consequently you are probably unaware of the controversy around some of these issues.

I hope you reconsider your above comments based on my reply. I understand your concern and skepticism of on what basis the media comes up with their conclusions. However, please don’t steriotype others as being malinformed simply because they happen to take a stance that corresponds to the stances often taken by the media.

But, all these technical issues and detials aside (granted, they are important), the point of my last message was just to show my full support in favor of replacing gasoline-powered automobiles with something much cleaner and more reliable… and I think Dean’s DEKA is on the horizon of doing just that.

Patrick

Posted by Dodd Stacy at 03/09/2001 1:21 AM EST

Engineer on team #95, Lebanon Robotics Team, from Lebanon High School and CRREL/CREARE.

In Reply to: Re: Sterling Engine
Posted by Patrick Dingle on 03/08/2001 11:04 PM EST:

I’m just back from travel, and here Patrick, Chris H, and Joe are discussing my favorite stuff: heat engines, Stirlings (Sterlings), global warming, and politics and technology. And I’ll start by saying Patrick is closest to the mark by my way of seeing and understanding the world and thermodynamics. I was going to try to take off on specific aspects of the various posts, but I decided to just spout and let the previous posters relate my stuff to theirs as they care to.

First, global warming. Come on gentlemen, engineers and scientists extrapolate past trends forward in time and examine the implications. The history of atmospheric CO2 concentration over several hundred years, as measured from the Greenland ice cores, shows an uncanny correlation to the history of human consumption (combustion) of fossil fuels as our population grew and our technology advances brought on the Industrial Age and the modern age. This history shows two things that are cause for thought. First, the CO2 concentration varies exponentiontially with time, just like human population, wealth, and resource consumption (energy, autos, gasolene, etc.). Second, this clearly human-correlated pattern has resulted in an atmospheric CO2 concentration more than 10% increased over the historic background level, when we were just pipsqueaks on the planet.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to wonder how this might play out, even if various parties want to focus on the details of where temperatures are presently measured, how long they’ve been measured, etc. The earth is a still-cooling piece of real estate with a molten rocky inside, that stuff that comes out in volcanic erutptions. It is also toasted by incoming radiation from our nearby significant (thank goodness for Sol) star, the sun. Also, thank goodness, it’s surrounded by space at about nothing for temperature, so we can radiate away the solar heat we receive and the heat conducting out to the surface from the cooling planet core (hmm, think long term on that, but it’s been going on a few billion years so far). Oh yeah, and also we have to radiate away from the planet the heat we release from converting STORED ENERGY (like fossil fuels) to useful forms like electricity, transportation, GINGER, HVAC, etc.

Punchline? All of these various sources of energy which wind up getting dumped at the surface of the planet as heat have to radiate off to deep cool space through the atmosphere. Our engineering understanding of the performance of the atmosphere, including its clouds, at transmitting the heat radiating out from the surface of the planet and at transmitting or reflecting the energy arriving from the sun is sophisticated but incomplete. But if we know that we have already increased the atmospheric CO2 by 10%, that we continue to increase CO2 in an exponential fashion with our present technology and population trends, and that CO2 has properties for transmitting and reflecting radiated heat in the applicable wavelengths that are different from the properties of the presently constituted atmosphere, what would we infer from all of that if we considered it without a pre-existing attitude or agenda? I’m not up to a heat transfer tutorial (and you’re probably not either), but when we change the heat transmitting/reflecting characteristics of a layer of stuff perpendicular to the direction of heat flow in a system like our planet, the result is that the temperature adjacent to the changed layer readjusts. Put storm windows on your house, and the temperature on the inside surface of your original window rises. And if you want to be in denial about any of this, just sit back and wait for that exponential behavior to double the CO2, quadruple it, etc. Oh, who cares, we’ve had ours and we’re dead and gone. To hell with our descendents - literally.

This rant so far only looks at changing the heat transfer capabilities of the atmosphere because of changing the CO2 concentration. It gets worse. We keep increasing the AMOUNT of heat we must radiate away through the atmosphere as we raise our global standard of living (energy consumption) and increase our population. That ALSO will make the surface temperature rise. I don’t care if you don’t think you can measure it yet. Wait till those 1 billion people in China discover the joys of SUV’s. And the soon to be 1 billion people in India all get electric lights and refrigerators in their homes. (Or did you think the rest of the world already lives like we do?)

Here’s the deal: virtually ALL the energy we use, not to mention the energy we sacrifice to inevitable inefficiency in heat engines when converting chemical, nuclear, of solar energy into the more convenient forms for use (electricity, light, etc), it ALL winds up as heat on the planet surface and lower atmosphere when we’re done with it. More people, higher living standard, more heat to radiate away, hotter planet. There is a very fine ASME paper from maybe 10 years that quantified the answer to this question: “If all the people currently living on the planet increased their standard of living (per capita energy consumption) to that of the average resident of the US today, and if that energy was supplied by STORED ENERGY forms (fossil, nuclear, etc.), how many degrees would the surface temperature of the planet rise to enable rejection of the increased heat load?” I don’t recall the exact answer - it was a goodly number of degrees - but the calculable implication was massive planet wide relocation of populations away from flooded coastal areas.

And that’s just for the rest of the people on the planet to catch up with us now. Unless we feel comfortable with our privaledged position in the world AND expect the other peoples to never experience it, we better get busy with better technology. And by the way, to end this rant, the free market does not cause this better technology to be developed and adopted. Individual inventors can’t do it. Noble, advanced, sophisticated societies do it through the wise and enlightened actions of the governments they choose. We need now to make the new technologies because they are hard. How will we do that?

Dodd

ps. Not to be gloomy. There is an answer that can leave a habitable world for our distant descendents. Look at some of the capitalized words above for a clue.

Posted by Joe Johnson at 03/09/2001 11:27 AM EST

Engineer on team #47, Chief Delphi, from Pontiac Central High School and Delphi Automotive Systems.

In Reply to: You Go, Patrick
Posted by Dodd Stacy on 03/09/2001 1:21 AM EST:

Global warming is a very big topic and I am not sure that I can stop myself once I get going.

I am not going to comment line by line to either Dodd or Patrick’s messages, but I have to comment on the correlation vs. causation.

Causation is a VERY tough thing to prove. Believe it or not, even the link between cancer and smoking (something that nearly all folks take for unshakeable fact) was EXTREMELY difficult to prove.

Showing a correlation was easy. Showing that it was the smoking and not some other aspect of the lifestyle of the smoking population (e.g. folks who smoke are less well educated, on average, drink more, eat higher fat content diets, work in riskier jobs, live in different environments, etc. than non-smokers – it might have been the case that these other things were causing cancer) was very tricky business and took a long time and a lot of good science.

Here is my approach to Global Warming:

  1. It has yet to be proven to sufficient certainty, imho.

  2. Once the effect has been proven, it is far from certain to be the man-made.

  3. Without regard to its cause, mankind will have to decide what the result of it will be. Again, in my opinion, this is far from a settled matter.

My Ph.D. involved computer modeling of nonlinear differential equations (and chaos theory, thrown in just to bamboozle my graduate board enough to get them to sign my thesis :wink: Anyway, if my doctoral research taught me anything it was how computer models can be easily manipulated to give wildly different results. Very simple terms included or left out of a system of equations lead to vastly different steady state solutions.

I don’t claim overt fixing by the computer modelers, but, as in all things, when the results of the model yield what you want, you consider yourself done. If the models give an answer that is unwanted or unexpected, you check hard trying to find problems or things you have left out. It is only human nature. Add to this the fact that funding tends to flow to researchers that make dire predictions not those that predict the sun will rise tomorrow just as it has a few billion time before. But I digress…

  1. Having decided that Global Warming is real and that its effects are worth doing something to prevent or reduce, the question is what should we do?

One of my favorite questions to ask the promoters of taking drastic measures because the results MIGHT be drastic is: Would you advocate taking the same actions if it was certain that man had nothing to do with the cause? It is a significant question and one that many have difficulty answering consistently with other ideals they hold about the environment and man’s place in it. But again, I digress…

  1. In my view, the Kyoto agreement skipped the steps 1, 2 and 3 and raced right to answering #4 with the answer, “Well, we have to do SOMETHING – even if it might not be needed and, assuming it is needed, it is not anywhere near enough to make a difference anyway.”

Even so, Kyoto is going to be very painful to the developed world. I am very serious. Kyoto does not really address the problem. Much more significant changes in lifestyle are going to be needed if we are serious about addressing Global Warming by simply reducing CO2 emissions. In fact, I am quite sure that there will be rioting in the streets of the developed world before we will ever get anywhere close to the reductions needed to stop Global Warming (assuming the models are correct).

Here is my bottom bottom line:
Assuming it is real and that we want to prevent it, there is no reason to implement a 10% solution that is very painful today when a serious solution will have to be found that will address 100% of the problem over the next 10 or 20 or 50 years.

We can do it, if it is needed and if we are serious about finding a 100% solution.

Joseph Michael Johnson, Ph.D., P.E.

Posted by ChrisH at 03/09/2001 3:43 PM EST

Engineer on team #330, Beach 'Bots, from Hope Chapel Academy and NASA JPL, J & F Machine, Raytheon, et al.

In Reply to: Correlation Vs. Causation…
Posted by Joe Johnson on 03/09/2001 11:27 AM EST:

First of all I want to state that I’m enjoying this discussion and learning a few things. I must admit that I’ve been focused on other areas so I am not current on data relating to the on-going Global Warming debate. I like even more that we can disagree in a graciously professional manner in front of all these students, even if they aren’t paying attention. Maybe something will rub off on them.

From Patrick’s initial post I got the impression that he was repeating the “party line”. I see now that you have thought alot about the question and done reseach on your own. I commend you for this. By the way I knew combustable engine was a typo, I just thought I’d attempt some engineer humor. Maybe Steve Alaniz and Sally can do something with it.

Dodd’s points are also well taken.

But Dr Joe has gotten to the heart of the problem. Correlation is merely a possible indicator to causation. I had no idea that there were data available that correlated so well. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that because you get slugged every time a certain person walks into the crowded room you are in, that that person is the person doing the sluging. The trick is to get everyone else out of the room first and then see what happens. If in that case you do get slugged you have a good indication. If not, it may only mean that they are smart enough not to slug you when there are no other suspects. Or you may have the wrong suspect altogether.

In any case I would not be exactly sad to see the IC engine disappear. I rather fancy photovoltaics myself if the $/Watt ratio could be brought down.

Also neither Dodd nor Patrick presented an alternative to combustion for creating the thermal gradient for operating the sterling engine. I can think of a couple but they are not currently feasible.

Maybe this summer I’ll have to get back to work on my solar air-conditioner. Bet I could sell a million of them out here in CA, especially if the Grid goes down.

Chris Husmann, PE
Team 330 the Beach’Bots

Posted by Patrick Dingle at 03/09/2001 4:30 PM EST

Coach on team #639, Red B^2, from Ithaca High School and Cornell University.

In Reply to: Re: Correlation Vs. Causation…
Posted by ChrisH on 03/09/2001 3:43 PM EST:

Nothing like a good scientific debate. Thanks to Dr Joe, Dodd, and Chris for your insight on the matter, and well thought-out comments. I think we can all safely agree that we (at this time) can’t be completely certain humans are significantly linked to the global warming. But I also think we can all agree, at least to a certain extent, that we can’t stick with these engines and burning of fossil fuels for ever. Even, hypothetically, if they did not cause any environmental changes or damage, these fossil fuels will eventually run out. Therefore, I think the scientific community, must seek out alternatives. We may disagree over the urgency involved or the reasons for doing so, but it is the right direction to step in.

Again, thanks for the interesting discussion. Hope you all are enjoying the time off from robot-building.

Patrick

: First of all I want to state that I’m enjoying this discussion and learning a few things. I must admit that I’ve been focused on other areas so I am not current on data relating to the on-going Global Warming debate. I like even more that we can disagree in a graciously professional manner in front of all these students, even if they aren’t paying attention. Maybe something will rub off on them.

: From Patrick’s initial post I got the impression that he was repeating the “party line”. I see now that you have thought alot about the question and done reseach on your own. I commend you for this. By the way I knew combustable engine was a typo, I just thought I’d attempt some engineer humor. Maybe Steve Alaniz and Sally can do something with it.

: Dodd’s points are also well taken.

: But Dr Joe has gotten to the heart of the problem. Correlation is merely a possible indicator to causation. I had no idea that there were data available that correlated so well. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that because you get slugged every time a certain person walks into the crowded room you are in, that that person is the person doing the sluging. The trick is to get everyone else out of the room first and then see what happens. If in that case you do get slugged you have a good indication. If not, it may only mean that they are smart enough not to slug you when there are no other suspects. Or you may have the wrong suspect altogether.

: In any case I would not be exactly sad to see the IC engine disappear. I rather fancy photovoltaics myself if the $/Watt ratio could be brought down.

: Also neither Dodd nor Patrick presented an alternative to combustion for creating the thermal gradient for operating the sterling engine. I can think of a couple but they are not currently feasible.

: Maybe this summer I’ll have to get back to work on my solar air-conditioner. Bet I could sell a million of them out here in CA, especially if the Grid goes down.

: Chris Husmann, PE
: Team 330 the Beach’Bots

Posted by Gary Bonner at 03/10/2001 8:52 AM EST

Other on team #433, Firebirds, from Mount Saint Joseph Academy and SCT Corp., FMC Corp…

In Reply to: Correlation Vs. Causation…
Posted by Joe Johnson on 03/09/2001 11:27 AM EST:

Regarding the comments about computer modeling, the same rationale could be applied to any scientific research. Researchers could fix their results in many different ways, and they don’t need computers to do it. Peer review and confirming studies make good science, not skepticism of a researcher’s motives.

Posted by Ken Leung at 03/08/2001 11:47 PM EST

Student on team #192, Gunn Robotics Team, from Henry M. Gunn Senior High School.

In Reply to: Re: Sterling Engine
Posted by ChrisH on 03/08/2001 8:13 PM EST:

I remember hearing about electrical engine can be more efficient than internal combustion engine…

But the main reason the internal combustion engine is so popular these days is because some guy (Rockefeller) got lots of gasoline he needed to sale, therefore he went on and promoted Gas station every where along the streets, making it more convenient for consumers to purchase gas instead of going into electric station to charge up the battery. Now a days, you don’t see any electric station with a mini-market on the side of the street…

So, the point is that consumers have a lot of power over what kind of technology is chosen. And the chosen one doesn’t necessary have to be the most efficient and/or safest for the environment…

Lots of factors decide if a product will survive in the modern market. The price of manufacturing, the regulation from government, consumer’s taste, research and testing for improvement, needs of consumers…

So, I am wondering if the Sterling will actually sale…

Posted by Raul at 03/11/2001 12:49 AM EST

Engineer on team #111, Wildstang, from Rolling Meadows & Wheeling HS and Motorola.

In Reply to: Re: Sterling Engine
Posted by ChrisH on 03/08/2001 8:13 PM EST:

These discussions also caught my attention because I also once had many debates about global warming, ozone layers and a few other things that are theoretically caused by the human organisms on this planet.

So, rather than express my understanding or opinions, I will just add some fuel to the fire (pun intended) by suggesting you read about the Gaia Theory (link enclosed).

Raul

Posted by mike oleary at 03/09/2001 10:11 PM EST

Student on team #419, rambots, from bc high and sponsors are overrated…go pocket-change robots!!!.

In Reply to: Sterling Engine
Posted by Gary Bonner on 03/08/2001 1:06 PM EST:

if you yell for 8 years, 7 months, and 6 days (which approximately corrisponds to the amount of yelling that takes place at any one nfl game) youll have produced enough energy to heat a cup of coffee…which means that its theoretically possible to power a sterling engine with a lot of yelling (hmmm…maybe there is a future for us ninny-ific rambots yet), or by a football game

: Also for what it’s worth…

: I received a copy of the latest Edmund’s Scientific catalog today. On the cover they have a sterling engine that runs on a hot cup of coffee.

: Time to sell that Exxon stock and invest in Starbucks?

Posted by PAUL GIANNOSA at 03/09/2001 10:34 PM EST

Engineer on team #27, TEAM RUSH, from OSMTECH and TEXTRON AUTOMOTIVE CO…

In Reply to: Sterling Engine
Posted by Gary Bonner on 03/08/2001 1:06 PM EST:

: Also for what it’s worth…

: I received a copy of the latest Edmund’s Scientific catalog today. On the cover they have a sterling engine that runs on a hot cup of coffee.

: Time to sell that Exxon stock and invest in Starbucks?I don’t know if i am red i to give up the ic just yet. I want to breathe more hydrocarbons as i am flying down the drag strip at speeds most people don’t even know exist. Going fast in a race car with the big bad 471 ci chevy revin’ at 8500 rpm’s is pretty addicting! But, i would gladly explore stirling motor applications to drag racing to keep our lungs clean. The little research i have done on the stirling design indicates thier is a huge power potential we are missing out on. My first reaction is to hook up a Miller Synchrowave 300 to the hot side and a nitrgen chiller to the other side. Fire up the welder and the Kelvinator and hold on cuz’ this Camaro is gunna hall booty!! We don’t even have all the research done to build a feasible , reliable, cheap and durable stirling and i want to hot rod one! Must be a personality flaw. Same flaw responsible for this nasty FIRST addiction!!