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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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Monty Python to reunite for new show after 30 years

Monty Python to reunite for new show after 30 years
NOV 19, 2013

LONDON – The Monty Python comedy troupe is set to reunite for a new show in their first major collaboration in 30 years, member Terry Jones revealed Tuesday.

“We’re getting together and putting on a show — it’s real,” Jones told the BBC. “I’m quite excited about it. I hope it makes us a lot of money. I hope to be able to pay off my mortgage!”

The BBC reported that the new collaboration — the first major project since the 1983 film “Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life” — would come in the form of a theater show.

Surviving Pythons John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Jones — who are all in their 70s — are set to formally announce the new project at a press conference in London on Thursday.

The troupe...


New Ambassador Caroline Kennedy meets Emperor

Source: Japan Times

New Ambassador Caroline Kennedy meets Emperor
U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy traveled by horse-drawn carriage to the Imperial Palace to present her credentials to Emperor Akihito on Tuesday, giving the public a rare look at a diplomatic tradition.

Hundreds of onlookers lined the avenues near the moat-ringed palace to snap pictures and wave as Kennedy, the 55-year-old daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, waved back from inside the carriage.

In an unusual move, NHK showed Kennedy’s arrival at the Imperial Palace live, following the entourage from the air once it entered the palace gates.

...“Honored to present my credentials to His Majesty the Emperor of Japan. What a memorable day!” Kennedy tweeted later, sharing a photo of her alighting from the carriage at the palace’s Pine Hall.

Read more: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/11/19/national/new-ambassador-caroline-kennedy-meets-japans-emperor/#.UovavCgyHdk

TEPCO plant engineer makes case that earthquake caused reactor cooling problem

Kimura authored paper titled “Leakage from the piping in the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant caused by vibrations from the earthquake.” in September of this year.

Cracks in Tepco’s 3/11 narrative
NOV 17, 2013


The transient phenomena recorder records various measurements in a nuclear power plant at every one-hundredth of one second. It accumulates such data as a reactor’s output, pressure and temperature and coolant’s flowing volume. Analysis of these data makes it possible to accurately identify “process behaviors” or what is happening in an nuclear reactor.


...In analyzing the data, Kimura took special note of the fact that natural circulation of coolant stopped. Along with an isolation condenser, natural circulation of coolant constitutes the “lifeline” in case loss of all the power sources occurs. Even if a primary loop recirculation pump, which pumps coolant water into the reactor core, stops functioning due to loss of all the power sources, natural circulation of coolant is supposed to maintain 10 percent of normal core flow of coolant.

Analysis of the data showed, however, that immediately after the earthquake hit, about 30 percent of coolant inside the core started flowing backwards and that after the coolant flow returned to the normal flow direction, the core flow fluctuated and eventually became less than zero. All these occurred before the nuclear power plant was struck by the tsunami.

Why is it that cooling by natural circulation of coolant became dysfunctional along with the isolation condenser right after the earthquake? Kimura believes that piping rupture was the very cause of the loss of these two “lifelines”

There are a couple of phenomena that seem to correspond to what Kimura believes happened. One is that a pump designed to draw up water from the bottom of the containment vessel seems to have been activated frequently, indicating that damage to piping caused coolant to leak and accumulate at the bottom of the vessel.

The other is that radioactive contamination was taking place at a much faster rate than was estimated by Tepco....

The article goes on to discuss the consequences to Japan's nuclear program should they acknowledge that the rather distant earthquake caused the cooling failure. It is important to know that the earthquake at its epicenter was vastly stronger than the forces that hit the nuclear plant and that instruments at the plant show that the quake forces there exceeded design parameters of the plant by just a small amount.

Hybrid Elec Porsche 918 does 0-62mph in 2.6 seconds & 0-124mph in 7.2 seconds

Porsche 918 Spyder Plug-In Hybrid Final Tune Drops 0-100km to 2.6 sec
Posted: 18 Nov 2013 05:39 PM PST

Shortly before delivery of the first customer vehicles, the Porsche 918 Spyder is beating its own benchmark values. Marking the success of the final tuning measures, the super sports car from Stuttgart is now clearly the fastest ever road-going Porsche. With the weight-optimised 'Weissach' package fitted, the 918 Spyder accelerates from zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) in just 2.6 seconds (-0.2 seconds quicker than previously), from zero to 124 mph (200 km/h) in 7.2 seconds (-0.5 seconds), and passes the 186 mph (300 km/h) mark after 19.9 seconds (-2.1 seconds).

Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Senior Vice President 918 Spyder programme, highlights the significance of these results: "We have now used all options available to electrify the 918 Spyder, working right up to the last minute to do so."

The enhancements also bring benefits in terms of the electrical performance delivered by the hybrid super sports car. The two electric motors on the front and rear axle allow the 918 Spyder to accelerate from zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 6.2 seconds, without producing any emissions. Such a performance marks a reduction of seven tenths of a second versus the previous time. With the Weissach package fitted, this electric sprinting time is reduced to 6.1 seconds.

The 918 Spyder complete with Weissach package currently holds the lap record for road vehicles on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, with a time of 6:57 minutes. At the same time, as a vehicle delivering particularly low consumption and emission figures, the model is certified to efficiency class A+...


German renewables are invading Poland

Poland is afraid of 'The Duck'.

Poland Builds Electronic Wall to Keep Out German Renewables
German renewables are invading Poland.

RenewEconomy, Giles Parkinson November 18, 2013

Poland, the host of the climate change negotiations, is going to extreme lengths to protect its coal-fired electricity industry -- making sudden changes to renewable energy support schemes, and even going so far as erecting a form of electronic barrier to keep renewable energy from neighboring Germany out of its grid.

The move appears to have been made with the sole intention of protecting the economic interests of its incumbent, centralized and heavily coal-reliant grid. As Germany roars toward a decentralized, renewables-based grid, Poland appears determined to stick to the past. The contrast between the two countries could not be starker.

The move to install equipment known as phase-shifters on transmission links between Poland and Germany is designed to give the Polish grid operator the power to block excess renewables output from Germany entering the Polish grid. As in Germany, a large amount of renewable energy causes wholesale prices to come down -- and profits to fall.

The phase-shifters are being tested in coming months and will be installed over the next year by the German network operator 50Hertz, which looks after the grid in the eastern past of the country adjoining Poland.

Grzegorz Wisniewski, the president of the Institute for Renewable Energy, says...


British nuclear energy industry could attract South Korean investment

British nuclear energy industry could attract South Korean investment
Korean companies tipped to follow France and China into UK market in wake of deal for new Hinkley Point reactor
By Terry Macalister, the Guardian 18 Nov 2013 More from this author View Comments
South Korea could become the next nation to take a stake in the British nuclear industry as the financing deal with France and China for a new reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset creates a wave of wider interest.

The move could trigger controversy because the Korean atomic industry has been hit by a scandal over fake safety certificates but the UK and South Korea have vowed to help restore credibility and build closer links in this sector.

Lloyd's Register, which provides risk management services, has been hired by Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Company to help give the country's reactors a clean bill of health.

But senior executives for the London-based Lloyd's say the relationship is a two-way process with the Koreans also looking at the best route to enter the British market in the aftermath of the Chinese investment in Hinkley Point.

"Discussions are ongoing and ...


Meanwhile, in Korea...

South Korea might abandon nuclear power

Part of fallout from bogus safety certificates scandal. A government working group has recommended a cut in South Korea's reliance on nuclear power. It cited a fall in public confidence in nuclear plant safety triggered by Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 2011. The study recommended South Korea’s nuclear power capacity be kept between 22% and 29% of the total by 2035, well below existing plans to grow the sector to 41% in less than 20 years...

- See more at: http://asian-power.com/project/more-news/south-korea-might-abandon-nuclear-power#sthash.KZ3sbFRk.dpuf

Self-healing electrodes could make li-ion batteries last 10x longer

Self-healing electrodes could make li-ion batteries last 10x longer
Posted: 18 Nov 2013 07:01 AM PST

Researchers at Stanford University and Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have made a pretty big breakthrough in lithium-ion battery technology. The team has developed a self-healing electrode using a stretchy polymer material that repairs cracks made in the electrodes caused by repeated use of the battery. This self-healing property could majorly extend the life of lithium-ion batteries in gadgets and electric cars.

The university reports, "Silicon electrodes swell to three times normal size and shrink back down again each time the battery charges and discharges, and the brittle material soon cracks and falls apart, degrading battery performance. This is a problem for all electrodes in high-capacity batteries...To make the self-healing coating, scientists deliberately weakened some of the chemical bonds within polymers – long, chain-like molecules with many identical units. The resulting material breaks easily, but the broken ends are chemically drawn to each other and quickly link up again, mimicking the process that allows biological molecules such as DNA to assemble, rearrange and break down."


"Their capacity for storing energy is in the practical range now, but we would certainly like to push that," said Yi Cui, an associate professor at SLAC and Stanford.

The coated electrodes worked for about 100 charge-discharge cycles before starting to significantly lose their energy storage capacity, which is still quite shy of the 500 cycles for cell phones and the 3,000 cycles for electric vehicles, but the researchers say the potential is there for getting those higher cycle numbers...


Surviving Climate Change: Is a Green Energy Revolution on the Global Agenda?

Surviving Climate Change: Is a Green Energy Revolution on the Global Agenda?
Monday, 18 November 2013 09:14
By Michael T. Klare

A week after the most powerful “super typhoon” ever recorded pummeled the Philippines, killing thousands in a single province, and three weeks after the northern Chinese city of Harbin suffered a devastating “airpocalypse,” suffocating the city with coal-plant pollution, government leaders beware! Although individual events like these cannot be attributed with absolute certainty to increased fossil fuel use and climate change, they are the type of disasters that, scientists tell us, will become a pervasive part of life on a planet being transformed by the massive consumption of carbon-based fuels. If, as is now the case, governments across the planet back an extension of the carbon age and ever increasing reliance on “unconventional” fossil fuels like tar sands and shale gas, we should all expect trouble. In fact, we should expect mass upheavals leading to a green energy revolution.

None of us can predict the future, but when it comes to a mass rebellion against the perpetrators of global destruction, we can see a glimmer of the coming upheaval in events of the present moment. Take a look and you will see that the assorted environmental protests that have long bedeviled politicians are gaining in strength and support. With an awareness of climate change growing and as intensifying floods, fires, droughts, and storms become an inescapable feature of daily life across the planet, more people are joining environmental groups and engaging in increasingly bold protest actions. Sooner or later, government leaders are likely to face multiple eruptions of mass public anger and may, in the end, be forced to make radical adjustments in energy policy or risk being swept aside.

In fact, it is possible to imagine such a green energy revolution erupting in one part of the world and spreading like wildfire to others. Because climate change is going to inflict increasingly severe harm on human populations, the impulse to rebel is only likely to gain in strength across the planet. While circumstances may vary, the ultimate goal of these uprisings will be to terminate the reign of fossil fuels while emphasizing investment in and reliance upon renewable forms of energy. And a success in any one location is bound to invite imitation in others.

A wave of serial eruptions of this sort would not be without precedent. In the early years of twentieth-first century, for example, one government after another in disparate parts of the former Soviet Union was swept away in what were called the “color revolutions” -- populist upheavals against old-style authoritarian regimes. These included the “Rose Revolution” in Georgia (2003), the “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine (2004), and the “Pink” or “Tulip Revolution” in Kyrgyzstan (2005). In 2011, a similar wave of protests erupted in North Africa, culminating in what we call the Arab Spring.

Like these earlier upheavals, a “green revolution” is unlikely to arise from a highly structured political campaign with clearly identified leaders...


Denial dries up: Americans finally seeing the light on climate change

Denial dries up: Americans finally seeing the light on climate change
By John Upton

Looks like Fox News and Congress are becoming ever more intellectually isolated from the American people, perched together on a sinking island of climate denialism.

Stanford University Professor Jon Krosnick led analysis of more than a decade’s worth of poll results for 46 states. The results show that the majority of residents of all of those states, whether they be red or blue, are united in their worries about the climate — and in their desire for the government to take climate action.

“To me, the most striking finding that is new today was that we could not find a single state in the country where climate scepticism was in the majority,” Krosnick told The Guardian.

In every state surveyed for which sufficient data was available:
At least three-quarters of residents are aware that the climate is changing.
At least two-thirds want the government to limit greenhouse gas emissions from businesses.
At least 62 percent want regulations that cut carbon pollution from power plants.
At least half want the U.S. to take action to fight climate change, even if other countries do not.



Senators: NRC stifled financial probe of FitzPatrick and other nuclear plants

Senators: NRC stifled financial probe of FitzPatrick and other nuclear plants
Two U.S. senators say nuclear regulators backed away from investigating the financial fitness of the FitzPatrick nuclear plant in Oswego County, and other plants, after owner Entergy Corp. objected

By Tim Knauss | tknauss@syracuse.com
November 15, 2013 at 7:34 AM

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Two U.S. senators have accused the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of backing away from a probe of the worsening finances of Entergy Corp.'s nuclear plants, including the FitzPatrick plant in Oswego County, after Entergy complained about the inquiry.

In a letter Thursday to NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane, Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., said nuclear safety regulators are duty-bound to evaluate the financial fitness of plant operators.

The senators expressed "grave concern'' over reports that NRC staff members were told to stop asking Entergy for financial information after Entergy complained to higher-ups at the NRC.

"In our opinion, financial distress and the failure to maintain sufficient operating funds would be expected to signal the potential for future degradations in safety brought about by a licensee's need to conserve funding,'' they wrote.

Entergy has acknowledged financial challenges ...


What's stronger than nuclear power? Falling electricity prices
By Steve Daniels November 18, 2013

Add the Quad Cities nuclear power station to the list of facilities Exelon Corp. would consider shutting if wholesale power prices continue to stay low.

Exelon CEO Christopher Crane for the first time publicly fingered the Quad Cities plant as suffering financially in remarks to investors at a conference in Orlando, Fla., last week. But Mr. Crane, who earlier had said the downstate Clinton plant was in trouble, dangled the possibility that both plants could stay open if the company can negotiate long-term contracts that would charge ratepayers prices above what the market currently is offering.

That would create a dilemma for lawmakers in Springfield, who prize the high-paying union jobs and millions in tax revenues that the nukes provide but would open them to intense criticism if they approved a deal that raises electricity rates just to keep the plants open.

“We think the nuclear assets are very valuable,” Mr. Crane said. “We know how to run them better than anybody else. But at the end of the day, if we're not compensated for them we'll just have to shut them down.”

If that happens, he added, “We'll work with the employee base...

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