Archive for November, 2010

Rare earths: the indispensable component

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

The Chinese are building long term industrial strategies – they are going for the indispensable rare earths, the little known materials that are used in high tech equipment and special products. The products are glasses, ceramics, catalyzers, powders, lasers, mobile phones, liquid crystals, solar panels, missile systems, defence equipment, phosphors….. World production is about 125.000 tons, of which the Chinese consume about 50%. Expected growth is about 10% per year.

The rare earths are 17 metals with special properties, like the lanthanides, lanthan, lutecium, yttrium, scandium.

Mongolia, Australia, Africa, Asia: the Chinese are there, and they are themselves by far the largest producer. The US and Japan are worried, exports are blocked, the prices are skyrocketing, and industries are at stake. There is illegal traffic in these products too. China and Japan are having contentions, and the Japanese feel the heat. Replacements are not possible in the short term. The industrialized West is being overtaken by the industrialized China?

A crisis is brewing as the Chinese are tightening supply, using it to gain advantages, increasing costs. Did the West sleep in class?

Could the West negotiate its way out of this one, or will there be tougher action? And the UN?

In one month – September to October 2010 – Chinese production is reduced by 75% – due to environmental and quality requirements – so where are we heading? Power play or just improving production facilities?

Communication efficiency – see them and they will know

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

It is well known that communicating through the written word is not efficient – less than 10 %, so we waste a lot of energy. Body language, pictures, seeing and feeling is much more efficient, may be in the area of 60 % efficient. So what about thinking together, using extrasensory perception and other techniques we do not understand at the moment. Will we ever be able to communicate 100% efficiently – come through with complete meaning? Maybe this is seen as slightly scary?

Now the next phase in communication is coming to us: Video over long distances, creation of virtual spaces, pulling the people together by means of datapower.

Modern machines can transfer pictures, video and speech. By creating virtual reality by means of datapower we can put everybody into the same space so that everybody can see each other clearly, the system will not only connect the people involved, but make sure the environment is common and efficient, noise and disturbances are taken away. The concept of avatar is popping up and the system makes everybody into avatars living in the same environment. The datapower can be instructed to have functionality, making your wishes come “through”.

It will be cloud-based so no datapower or machinery of your own is needed, just the camera and projection equipment. Could you use the DSLR with video for this? But the power in the sky will need graphics, heavy processors, and hefty net capacity is also required.

So who do you want to be efficient with, or where do you want to be? Could this replace travel? Will there be holographic pictures floating in space that you can tape as a file?

So you call people on the video, communicate efficiently – and truthfully – and the videofile is your documentation. Easy?

There is no need to wait – it will all be here soon.

The effect of policies

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

A number of environmental – sustainability – rules have been established through law in Norway: about fish farming, ecological consequence analysis, risk analysis, restrictions on snow-scootering in the wilderness, environmental consequences of forestry, building requirements,…… and more

The consequences of this is now materializing – if you don’t follow the rules, you break the law and the authorities will come after you.

But the process is noisy and full of protest: We are too important to follow the law (fish farming), we are not big enough to follow the law (many private undertakings). But a new regime is now slowly being built, and the consequences of ecological thinking are changes in what we have done up to now: new ways are coming!

We must also respect the enforcerers of the rules – the process of law is fresh in this area – so adjustments may be necessary – but first of all we must let rules bite when we have adopted them.

So will the protesters make us fall back or will we be able to stay the new ecological course? Surely momentum is gathering – the new sustainability is here to stay – and much more will come.

Be tough on yourself and have a good life

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Researchers are finding out more about how the body works, and now it is about training. To keep your own body dynamic you must engage in tough physical activity.

Hard long slogs are all right, but it seems it is more efficient to engage in high-intensity interval training. You get your fitness into place in a much shorter time by pushing yourself to the limit over a short time, say 20-30 seconds, then resting for several minutes and so on 4-8 times. Even ultra-intense training may be part of the method.

Short-burst training is also less boring, so as the results are the same why not try it. Research is continuing, but care must be taken – do not get up from the couch and right into physical bursting. And remember it hurts – because it must to have effect.

There are other effects to be considered too: The energy you use in your life, the kind of diet you are on, your age and general condition. Intensive training gives you more time to do other things in your life – you may become more efficient.

Aging is strongly related to inactivity, and many researchers say we need physical hardship to live well and long. Good stress it is called. Your genes have lot to say as to what life you will have, but by being intensive you can create your own reality and bypass your own genetic “problems”.

It is becoming clearer all the time – your body must be used, often and most likely daily, and it is probably all right to be very tough with it.

Developing environmental practice near you

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Theories around environmental energy abound, and all sorts of new technologies are being tested. Often this is done via development grants, state funding, price support, research programs financed by many – the total costs are often very high. To gain future acceptance in the market the cost picture has to become clearer and lower. The practice of the environmental technologies has been lacking – many details must be found out to make a viable system.

And insight and experience are growing.

Electric cars are appearing in many places and charging points are installed in many cities. Special parking spaces are built. Batteries must be able to tackle winter conditions, and tests are proceeding. Pricing, taxes, emission controls and measurement, relations to petrol driven cars, the bureaucracy of electric cars is developing.

Solar photovoltaic installations have great promise, and costs of panels have been going down. New products like thin films are entering the market. But most installations are like prototypes. Plug in possibilities are not there yet, but progress is being made. Risk factors are being found out – e.g. wind, rain etc. Standards, higher volumes, integration, building permits facilitation – all are falling into place so that increasing use is on the way.

In other areas – wind power at sea or on land, geothermals, bioenergy – things are moving ahead.

Testing and finding new ways is what we have done so far – the just-plug-them-in society with reasonable prices are on its way. The process is long and tough, but in the end the viable systems will stand.