The New Terrapin Gazette

Number 213                                                                                                                               6 June, 2011


“To whom God grants high office, He also gives understanding” is an old witticism that, in our times, one will probably not want to promote very seriously.


The Eternal Constant: Pseudoscientific Fraud

Cripes, we have seen cars that run on water, and now we have this. Do not invest.

Look, as concerns about energy grow, bullshit artists will proliferate and prey on the public. Most people are ignorant of some basic facts and the implications thereof — such as the fact that every time you convert energy from one form to another, losses are involved. And if you think the losses are trivial, you are not going to pay any attention to anyone who tries to tell you the truth about energy, machinery, electricity, magnetism, electrolysis, chemistry and power. Here goes anyway.

You have to begin with the understanding that efficient energy conversion is always a serious challenge for engineers. They try to design for simplicity and elegance; those virtues increase efficiency. Charlatans will imply that sheer ignorance and/or incompetence on the part of engineers has hampered good design, giving us machines that waste huge amounts of energy we can now recover. In almost no cases whatsoever is that true.

Yes, the power grid and the machines that draw electricity from it, as well as automobiles, railroad locomotives, airplanes, ships and dogsleds are competently designed. They all use energy rather well, given the state of the art; as that state improves, and it does, efficiency increases. Today’s consumer technology is generally more efficient than it was twenty years ago.

Don’t let that simple truth slip past you and get lost. Time and again people have tried to prove that the oil companies (or some other corporate villains) have killed technological advances so the public burns more petroleum than it has to. The efforts to prove conspiracy always fail, and the record of business and industry always shows a struggle to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and save energy. Those facts predominate, in spite of the truth behind Who Framed/Censored Roger Rabbit.

The schemes of rascals are usually based on the notion that, whether out of stupidity or malice, the machinery you use or the machinery that generates your electricity is fundamentally flawed. To prove it, the salesman spews bewildering jargon that sounds somewhat like the things you hear from astronomers these days — babble filled with incomprehensible terms and unfathomable concepts. The pitch usually begins with “wasted energy,” “recovering power that is presently dumped,” and similar comprehensible but unproved claims. Subsequent pseudoscientific jabbering is laced with all manner of terms you are assumed not to know (if you did understand them, you would see at once that you are being lied to). You will be assured that inefficiencies can be ironed out, and that waste can be salvaged and used. How? Well, the Nyquist locus on the power wave can be polarized by the flux field of the full-wave rectifier that captures the hitherto ignored standing waves that previously escaped because of those lapses (points to sine wave he just drew on cocktail napkin) caused by hysteresis intermodulation. See?

By talking to you as if you understood the arcane terms, the charlatan is saying to you, in effect, “I can see you are not stupid or ignorant. Or was I wrong? Are you a moron, or just badly educated?” It’s a gambit designed to hit you in the ego, and that can be a big target.

Sometimes it’s a “converter” or “control” that turns off the electricity going to a motor every split second, saving you money without reducing the effectiveness of your refrigerator. Sometimes you plug a black box into your house’s power line, and for every kilowatt hour you get from the grid, that black box gives you 1.4 KWh. Sometimes the molecules of gasoline are broken up really, really small by the fan you install on your automobile’s fuel system, resulting in cleaner, more efficient burning and much better gas mileage. Sometimes you are told that the energy you get from an electrolysis unit in your car will exceed the energy you put into cracking water into hydrogen and oxygen, so you can use that to make the car go (for the truth, see this clarification).

Ah, but the hyperlink in the first paragraph of this rant takes the inquirer to a university website, so this can’t be a hoax or scam or fraud. It can’t? A university prof sat in his office at his university and, in conversation with a New Terrapin staffer, repeated his claims of the successful artificial insemination of a gorilla with human semen and the live birth of a creature, half ape and half human. The university of East Anglia produced and backed and still backs the greatest scientific fraud of modern times, anthropogenic global warming.

Now go back and re-read that press release from the Finnish university you never heard of until now. How much of it can you understand, and how much sense does it make? Finally, wait a few months, and see whether this claimed breakthrough is celebrated in the media. It won’t be, because it’s bullshit. (Here’s another “breakthrough“, this time from MIT and three years old. What have you seen about this lately?)

Common sense is called for. What engineer in his right mind would want to add more machinery — at the very least, an alternator, a voltage regulator, some pipes or chains or gear trains, and some hydraulic cylinders — to a large (unspecified) machine in the expectation that all that gear could profitably “recover” some “wasted” energy? Does it make sense that energy is generated and thrown away when a heavy load, having been lifted, is lowered? How much energy can all that added gear generate from motions like that? Enough to cut fuel use in half, as claimed? Think it through, Pilgrims.

The truth is just this: the scams are still with us, and always will be. This newsletter has been following a local attempt to fit all condos with one of those black boxes; if it worked half as well as is claimed, it would be a runaway seller. So far, the company promoting it has been able to maintain an extraordinarily low profile. The New Terrapin can’t even discover whether the salesman who divulged the good news to a power-hungry world is still employed there, and nobody here can figure out where to buy that black box.

Science can be and often is abused. Another damn example: Al Gore.

Believe the claims if you wish. In the event that you do, you may also want to correct Maxwell’s equations. Wonderful; those things have been around since the third quarter of the nineteenth century, so it’s got to be time they were brought up to date. Go to it…but don’t bother sending a copy of your revisions to The New Terrapin. Nobody here believes in the Tooth Fairy.

Do not be discouraged. Some day soon The New Terrapin will inform you of an IPO that gives you a chance to get rich with the TerrapinMobile, a fabulous electric car that has five wheels. The fifth one drives an alternator that sends power to the other four, so as you drive along at eighty-five miles per hour (forever, if you want) you generate all the electricity you need to keep going. This development is almost perfected; the guys in the lab say the coating on the copper wire used in that special alternator has not quite produced the desired results. You will be notified when the breakthrough arrives.

Well, OK, that’s enough kidding around. Of course the TerrapinMobile would be much more efficient than any hydrogen-powered vehicle that performs on-board electrolysis. The electrolysis machinery and the engine burning the resulting hydrogen should be dumped in favor of using just a fifth wheel turning an alternator that feeds the motor. The resulting huge increase in efficiency would still not allow the TerrapinMobile to work, and that’s a fact you can see intuitively.



“It’s the economy, Stupid.”

Notes on computers and their operating systems: Macs do have vulnerabilities to malware, and the fact that the products are for profit has been getting in the way of fixes; read about the tangle here. If you use a Mac, be sure your software is current. Linux is not impervious to malicious intruders, either, but its situation in the market is radically different. In fact it’s so good that you really ought to consider switching to it. Which version would be best for you? Here’s a guy who has some experience with a few of the options and has picked his favorite: Linux Mint. Meanwhile the old advice is still good: do not take Microsoft on the internet. Finally, there’s an interesting note on those supercomputers that run at high speeds and can tackle even the “hard problems” in mathematics. It tells you what operating system predominates in the rarefied atmosphere of hardware development (hint: that operating system is also a huge presence in mobile phones and many other devices where a tiny computer and limited capabilities at low cost and high reliability are the designers’ goals). Grist for the mill, Pilgrims.

Obama is caught “…between the shopworn leftwing ideologies of his youth (from Ayers to Khalidi) that still flutter around in his brain and the brutal real world realities that are closing on the president as unemployment increases, the dollar sinks and bankruptcy looms. There is no way to reconcile these things. The welfare state — the linchpin of liberalism — is dead. The situation is untenable inside and outside Obama’s mind. And we are all living the nightmare results.” The commentary from which this quote is taken proposes to explain why Rahm Emanuel is siding with Obama’s blatantly anti-Israel/pro-“Palestinian” foreign policy. The sheer irrationality of it all means that when someone praises The One’s vision, the increasingly common reaction is to ask, “Whatever secret reason does he have for saying that?”

Fearless prediction: if the Obmaites are confronted with this information, they will counter it with tales of Australian racial bigotry. Which is rather like saying that you won’t derive any benefit from eating a good diet because you picked a fight with a co-worker twenty-two years ago.

Sarah Palin, historian. Sarah Palin, authority. Score: Palin 2 — Bozos 0.

If Obama tries again to use Mexican drug cartels as an excuse to disarm US residents, he’s going to be refuted and lose more voters. Facts are facts, and his anti-second amendment stance is based on lies. Note as well the reason why Mexicans suffer so much from the thugs’ violence: their government has unconstitutionally disarmed them.

Related: the National Rifle Association tells its members that:

Today, 31 U.S. House members — all Democrats — wrote to President Barack Obama, urging him to end Administration stonewalling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ “Project Gunrunner,” and the “Fast and Furious” program under which border state dealers were encouraged to sell thousands of guns to suspicious buyers.

In the letter, spearheaded by Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa., the lawmakers called the investigative tactics “extremely troubling” and found the Justice Department’s failure to provide information to congressional investigators “equally troubling.” Saying that Americans deserve “prompt and complete answers,” the letter concluded with a call for the administration to help “get to the bottom of this serious allegation of federal law enforcement misconduct.”

To read the letter, click here.

Cops just love cell phones that can record video/audio.

Why is the economic recovery so slow? One big reason is that the government is part of the problem, not part of the solution. It’s not complicated, but don’t expect politicians of either party to understand it.

Fannie and Freddy in SocialEngineeringLand: a new book bids fair to be the least-read tome inside the Beltway.

Man bites bank. No wonder…look what the bank tried to do to the poor guy!

The masthead includes a quote from the works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

The staff of The New Terrapin Gazette expresses its sincere gratitude to the many people who have gifted the world with Arch Linux, Emacs, Screen, and Chromium.

Publisher:    The Eagle Wing Palace of The Queen Chinee