Archive for February, 2008|Monthly archive page
The Wild Rose Party Is Unrealistic (In Other News: Nobody Uses Cassette Tapes Anymore – Thank You Cptn. Obvious)In Dumbass, Personal, Politics, Science on February 20, 2008 at 9:08:22 pm
The candidates from Calgary Elbow (Bow? It’s irrelevant) congregated in our school today for a little debate. They were trying to sway people to vote for one of them. Now, this may surprise you, but I’m leaning towards the Green Party. Why? He’s easily the least dumb of all of the candidates. Not that I can vote. I’m 17. But there was one person who officially blows chunks. In other words: he’s about as smart as your average twig. This candidate comes from (no surprises here) the Wild Rose Alliance party of Alberta. They want to go back to the good ol’ days, but they like this newfangled thing called “solar power”. They like it so much, they offered an example!
See, the candidate told us that a 400 square mile solar array could power the entire continental US. I’m going to do this Mythbusters style: I’m going to say why 400 square miles won’t be enough (and try to figure out how much this will actually require), then I’m going to run down the cost for you. As icing on the cake. Here goes.
1 square meter of photovoltaic cells (or PVCs, as I’ll call them later) can generate 1 kW/h per day in a sunny clime like that of the southern US. We’re going to be optimistic and use that. Now, 400 square miles is about 1 billion square metres. How cool. So, 1 billion PVCs can produce 1 billion kW/h per day.
I just want to put a kW/h in context. The energy consumption of your average home is about 30 kW/h per day, according to The Tennessean. To power your house just for a day, you’ll need 30 square metres of PVCs.
According to the CIA world factbook, there are about 300 million residents in the USA (I’m using the US as an example, because the facts and figures are really easy to come by, and it pertains to the original source). The average family home contains 3.98 people, according to the World Almanac. That means there are about 76 million homes in the US of A. Each needs 30 square metres. That means that you’ll need 2.3 billion square metres of PVCs just for residential. Don’t forget that the biggest consumer of electricity, by leaps and bounds is the commercial and industrial sector.
So, in all, it’ll take a buttload more than 400 million square miles. Plainly, Mr. Wild Rose Party has pulled those figures directly out of his ass. So, how big would the PVC array need to be?
According to the CIA factbook, in 2005 the estimated electricity consumption of the US was 3.8 trillion kW/h. I could have checked the factbook instead of doing all that math, couldn’t I? Alas, I just found that. Grr.
This translates into, handily, 3.8 trillion square metres. For those who can’t transfer square metres into square miles, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. That’s a cool 1.5 million square miles. For a size comparison, picture about 1/6th of the entire US completely covered in a PVC array.
Cost-benefit analysis time. PVCs typically cost about $0.30 per kW/h. Got a calculator handy? I do. 3,800,000,000,000 x 0.30 = 1,140,000,000,000. That’s right. About $1 trillion to build a solar cell to power the US.
I admit, the US has about 10 times the population of Canada. To make one of these for Canada is a cool $100 billion.
I’m all for alternative energy. But it’s idiots like those in the Wild Rose party (or at least this candidate; I can’t speak to the entire party) who completely miss the issue. It’s like he got up one morning and suddenly heard the words “solar energy”. They struck him as “cool” and “hip” and thought that they’d bring a “new” side to his campaign.
UPDATE – I’m a moron, again:
So, here’s what happened. In the article, I pointed out that the energy consumption of the US was 3.8 trillion kW/h for the year, but I made some of the other calculations in days. Therefore (in summary, because I’m lazy):
3,800,000,000,000 / 365 = 10,410,958,904. 10.4 billion, ish.
10.4 billion square metres is roughly 4,000 square miles. So, Mr. Wild Rose wasn’t TOO far off. Only by a factor of 10. Which is, admittedly, less than I was. Math errors. Whatcha gonna do?
The rest of the numbers should be correct.
That’s one word I can’t spell wrong.
Kai has just advised me that it’s “imbeciles”. Last post I wrote “imbiciles”, therefore defeating the point. I’m awesome that way.
Number One: Forum Imbiciles
I browse forums on a frequent basis. Yes, I have no friends. I’m struck by the sheer amount of people who do two things:
1. Refuse to use Google
2. Ask about obscure ideas on these forums.
On one forum, there’s one member there who combines these two traits. I should save this person a little humiliation, because my blog is linked from there. But let’s call him “Shmantom_Ford”. Yeah, I couldn’t think of a name.
This member asks about the most obscure things that nobody would ever think of trying. It’s not because the ideas are particularly dangerous, it’s just that nobody cares. For example, two of this user’s most recent threads are: “Make backlit keyboard flash on new IM” and “Two Mice = Two Cursors”. He’s the only one who I can think of that would actually run these sorts of configurations. He’s the sort of person who would ask “can I run the original Mac OS, but on an Intel machine, and still run Photoshop CS3 in it?”.
The problem is that he occasionally asks intelligent(ish) questions. Like “can I shut the lid of my PowerBook and still keep it running”. All that would require is a simple Google search. But, for whatever reason, those six letters (OK… 10 if you include .com) are much too difficult to type when he requires a question to be answered.
Number Two: Chicken Is Not A Vegetable
I’m sick and tired of ignorance. I’m vegetarian (because I’m awesome that way – if you want a real reason, I can’t be bothered). I don’t really expect to be “catered to”, but I’d like a vegetarian option in a restaurant. I mean, a salad or something. But it never fails to surprise me how many people think chicken is a vegetable. The conversation goes something like this:
Me: “Could I please have the salad, but without the bacon on top?”
Waiter: “Sorry, we can’t do that.”
Me: “OK… do you have a vegetarian option for the salad?”
Waiter: “Sure do.”
Me: “Sounds good.”
/* The food arrives */ (I needed to insert a comment… and that was the only way I could think of at the moment. How sad.)
Me: “Sorry, but I think I asked for the vegetarian salad.”
Waiter: “That’s what it is.”
Me: “It has chicken in it.”
Waiter: “I don’t see the problem.”
For once and forever: chicken isn’t a vegetable. Never has been, never will be.
So, I’ve heard a lot of positive reaction to my white iPod Touch mockup. I thought I’d do something a little bit different tonight, so here’s a cream variation. I’d like to see a matte iPod Touch, just to see what it looks like. I imagine it would look good, and, with a cream colour, a bit like this:
Yeah, it’s not perfect. So sue me. Or, better yet, make your own. Here’s a PSD:
Download it, and have fun with it. I claim no ownership of the image. Use it however you like. Oh, yeah, the layer separation in it isn’t perfect either. So, keep the bottom layer visible. Or cut it out yourself.