Thursday, August 26, 2010

Electricity: The Future of Energy

"He [God] directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth." -- Job 37:3

"Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them." -- Psalm 144:6

"For if the Olympian who handles the lightning [Jupiter] should be minded
to hurl us [planets] out of our places, he is far too strong for any."
-- Homer, poet, Iliad, I:580-581, 8th century

"... white lightning in the midst of the wine-dark sea." -- Homer, poet, Odyssey, V:132, 8th century B.C.

"We are told, in the inscriptions, of the fall of the celestial being who appears to correspond to Satan. In his ambition he raises his hand against the sanctuary of the God of heaven, and the description of him is really magnificent. He is represented riding a chariot through celestial space, surrounded by the storms, with the lightning playing before him, and wielding a thunderbolt as a weapon. This rebellion leads to a war in heaven...." -- George Smith, archaeologist, 1876

"Embarrassingly little is known about terrestrial lightning, although it strikes the Earth about 3 million times per day." -- Tom Wilson, biologist/engineer, February 2009

Science Daily: Electricity Collected from the Air Could Become the Newest Alternative Energy Source.

ScienceDaily (Aug. 26, 2010) — Imagine devices that capture electricity from the air ― much like solar cells capture sunlight ― and using them to light a house or recharge an electric car. Imagine using similar panels on the rooftops of buildings to prevent lightning before it forms. Strange as it may sound, scientists already are in the early stages of developing such devices, according to a report presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

"Our research could pave the way for turning electricity from the atmosphere into an alternative energy source for the future," said study leader Fernando Galembeck, Ph.D. His research may help explain a 200-year-old scientific riddle about how electricity is produced and discharged in the atmosphere. "Just as solar energy could free some households from paying electric bills, this promising new energy source could have a similar effect," he maintained.

"If we know how electricity builds up and spreads in the atmosphere, we can also prevent death and damage caused by lightning strikes," Galembeck said, noting that lightning causes thousands of deaths and injuries worldwide and millions of dollars in property damage.

The notion of harnessing the power of electricity formed naturally has tantalized scientists for centuries. They noticed that sparks of static electricity formed as steam escaped from boilers. Workers who touched the steam even got painful electrical shocks. Famed inventor Nikola Tesla, for example, was among those who dreamed of capturing and using electricity from the air. It's the electricity formed, for instance, when water vapor collects on microscopic particles of dust and other material in the air. But until now, scientists lacked adequate knowledge about the processes involved in formation and release of electricity from water in the atmosphere, Galembeck said. He is with the University of Campinas in Campinas, SP, Brazil.

Scientists once believed that water droplets in the atmosphere were electrically neutral, and remained so even after coming into contact with the electrical charges on dust particles and droplets of other liquids. But new evidence suggested that water in the atmosphere really does pick up an electrical charge.

Galembeck and colleagues confirmed that idea, using laboratory experiments that simulated water's contact with dust particles in the air. They used tiny particles of silica and aluminum phosphate, both common airborne substances, showing that silica became more negatively charged in the presence of high humidity and aluminum phosphate became more positively charged. High humidity means high levels of water vapor in the air ― the vapor that condenses and becomes visible as "fog" on windows of air-conditioned cars and buildings on steamy summer days.

"This was clear evidence that water in the atmosphere can accumulate electrical charges and transfer them to other materials it comes into contact with," Galembeck explained. "We are calling this 'hygroelectricity,' meaning 'humidity electricity'."

In the future, he added, it may be possible to develop collectors, similar to the solar cells that collect the sunlight to produce electricity, to capture hygroelectricity and route it to homes and businesses. Just as solar cells work best in sunny areas of the world, hygroelectrical panels would work more efficiently in areas with high humidity, such as the northeastern and southeastern United States and the humid tropics.

Galembeck said that a similar approach might help prevent lightning from forming and striking. He envisioned placing hygroelectrical panels on top of buildings in regions that experience frequent thunderstorms. The panels would drain electricity out of the air, and prevent the building of electrical charge that is released in lightning. His research group already is testing metals to identify those with the greatest potential for use in capturing atmospheric electricity and preventing lightning strikes.

"These are fascinating ideas that new studies by ourselves and by other scientific teams suggest are now possible," Galembeck said. "We certainly have a long way to go. But the benefits in the long range of harnessing hygroelectricity could be substantial."

CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) and FAPESP (The State of São Paulo Research Foundation) funded the study.


Jeffery Keown said...

"For if the Olympian who handles the lightning [Jupiter] should be minded
to hurl us [planets] out of our places, he is far too strong for any."
-- Homer, poet, Iliad, I:580-581

That quote is not referring to the actual planet Jupiter, or real lightning or the Electric Universe or any real concept.

This is made clear by the next few lines, which is very obviously talking about a person:

"Do you therefore approach him with words made gentle, and at once the Olympian will be gracious again to us."

So you suggest we sweet-talk a planet so he won't be all wrothful? What a stupid use of quote-mining.

I swear, you used to be fun.

OilIsMastery said...

"That quote is not referring to the actual planet Jupiter, or real lightning or the Electric Universe or any real concept."

Undeceive yourself Jeffery.

Zeus is the planet Jupiter.

Jeffery Keown said...

Is this more of your Ancient Greeks knew more than, say, Neil deGrasse Tyson argument?

Spiky atoms and a flat Earth are not science. Neither is lightning from Jupiter.

OilIsMastery said...

Flat Earth wasn't believed until modern times.

"In the first place, the earth, when looked at from above, is like one of those balls which have leather coverings in twelve pieces, and is of divers colors...." -- Plato, philosopher, Phaedo, 360 B.C.

"Either then the earth is spherical or it is at least naturally spherical." -- Aristotle, philosopher, On The Heavens, Book II, 350 B.C.

"[Pythagoras was] the first [Greek] who called the earth round; though Theophrastus attributes this to Parmenides, and Zeno to Hesiod." --Diogenes Laertius, historian, 3rd century

"... [Pythagoras said] the earth ... is also spherical. ... and also that there are antipodes, and that what is below, as respects us, is above in respect of them."" -- Diogenes Laertius, historian, 3rd century

Jeffery Keown said...


"Anaximenes and Anaxagoras and Democritus say that its [the earth's] flatness is responsible for it staying still: for it does not cut the air beneath but covers it like a lid, which flat bodies evidently do: for they are hard to move even for the winds, on account of their resistance. "

— Aristotle, On the Heavens, 294b, 13.

OilIsMastery said...

"Some authors also give a list of some separate treatises which they collect from his [Democritus's] Commentaries. A treatise on the Sacred Letters seen at Babylon; another on the Sacred Letters seen at Meroe; the Voyage round the Ocean; a treatise on History...." -- Diogenes Laertius, historian, 3rd century

Clearly then Democritus thought the Earth was a sphere.

OilIsMastery said...

Aristotle is either slandering Democritus there or else you are misinterpreting what he wrote.

"And Aristoxenus, in his Historic Commentaries, says that Plato wished to burn all the writings of Democritus that he was able to collect; but that Amyclas and Cleinias, the Pythagoreans, prevented him, as it would do no good; for that copies of his books were already in many hands. And it is plain that that was the case; for Plato, who mentions nearly all the ancient philosophers, nowhere speaks of Democritus; not even in those passages where he has occasion to contradict his theories, evidently, because he said that if he did, he would be showing his disagreement with the best of all philosophers...." -- Diogenes Laertius, historian, 3rd century

"And it is evident from his [Democritus's] writings, what sort of man he was. 'He seems,' says Thrasylus, 'to have been also an admirer of the Pythagoreans.' And he mentions Pythagoras himself, speaking of him with admiration, in the treatise which is inscribed with his name. And he appears to have derived all his doctrines from him to such a degree, that one would have thought that he had been his pupil, if the difference of time did not prevent it. At all events, Glaucus of Rhegium, who was a contemporary of his, affirms that he was pupil of some of the Pythagorean school. And Apollodorus, of Cyzicus, says that he was intimate with Philolaus...." -- Diogenes Laertius, historian, 3rd century

"The Samian Duris, in the second book of his 'Hours,' writes that his [Pythagoras's] son was named Arimnestus, that he [Arimnestus] was the teacher of Democritus...." -- Porphyry, philosopher, 3rd century

Jeffery Keown said...

Aristotle is either slandering Democritus there or else you are misinterpreting what he wrote.

Translation: "Aristotle is always right, except when I disagree with him."


Democritus and the other ancients had no secret knowledge, no advanced technology, they were in no way superior to today's resarchers. To those around them, yes. To the average 18-year-old student in the modern age, they are woefully deficient.

They lacked the perspective we have today. It's simple. The only reason one would feel otherwise is if that person had a mad on about the scientific process; if he felt some folks' stupid ideas were discarded "too early" by mean people in lab coats.