Monday, July 13, 2009
Gates' patent claims pre-empted by my 2005 "Hurricane Stopper" post
Having posted this idea four years ago myself, I have to admit it's a bit wacky. On the other hand, Hurricane Katrina devastated a substantial chunk of my country, so anything that MIGHT be able to slow these monsters down ought to at least be talked about.
The Gates scheme is lumbering and passive. My Hurricane Stopper is agile and active, giving it a better chance of being practical. My idea was to have wind-turbine powered jet-boats suck their propellant water from the cold depths and spread it around in the hurricane's path. Think of barge-like wind-farms, big enough to ride out hurricane seas.
Downsides: Might not be possible to build a wind-farm barge capable of riding out hurricane winds and seas; would kill a lot of birds and fish; possible ill effects from changing the temperature gradient in the Gulf, if used on massive scale.
Gate's scheme is similar to mine in that it also uses the hurricane's own energy, but it does so passively. He would dot the Gulf with giant tubs, ballast-regulated to ride so that hurricane seas would lap over the edges of the tubs, raising the water level in the tub above the surrounding sea level. Gravity would then drive the water in the tub down through a drain in the bottom that extends down to the cold depths:
At whatever rate the waves lap over the top, the same amount of water should flow out the bottom. But is it really possible to in this way get the warm top-water off of the cold water below?
The patent claim is that when the top-water gets pushed down to the cold depths, it pushes the cold water up, but will it? How can cold rise through warm? It seems more likely that the warm water exiting the drain will float back up, but not all the way because it has been cooled by its exposure to deep water, with the warm top-water continuing to sit as a lid on the cold water below.
The only way any cold water would make it to the surface is by roiling of the waters from below, but this roiling would be originating 155 feet down, and only by passive means. If it brings any cold water to the surface, it won't be much.
Neither will these giant tubs be very mobile, meaning the Gulf would have to be pre-saturated with these lap-tubs. FAIL.
In sum, Gates claim to the general idea of stopping hurricanes by bringing cold water to the surface is pre-empted by my four year old scheme, and his "best embodiment" of this general idea is far inferior to my embodiment, leaving him with nothing. Sorry Bill. You should have been reading my blog. I'd have been glad to work with you on a patent claim before the one year post-publication deadline for filing.
Let that be a lesson to everyone. Read my blog!
Note to Bill Gates, Nathan Myhrvold, Searete LLC and Intellectual Ventures
If you all want to make a giant pile of cash (not as big as the computer operating system pile, but maybe only one order of magnitude below), I've got an invention I'd be glad to let you patent, for an appropriate share. It is a fundamentally improved version of a standard household appliance. Whole new functionality, with no loss of existing functionality. Not a household necessity like the basic functionality is, but something that a lot of people would want to have, at little additional cost. Ultimate market penetration could easily go over 50%. All patentable and not pre-empted. I've done the patent searches.
We just need to sign a disclosure agreement and a standard deal for inventor's share if we go forward. I've been sitting on this for over ten years because I don't want to start the clock on the patent expiration until I am teamed up with someone who has the bucks to actually put the invention into production. Forget potential profits. I want a share of the real thing. Gates has the resources to develop and produce the product, so it is a good match. Any other appliance companies, R and D companies, or investors who want to contact me, feel free (serious only please).
Another freebie for the public: mitigate global cooling with sooty coal
With the earth cooling rapidly (by historical standards) for 10 years now, and with our quiescent sun guaranteeing a significantly extended cooling phase going forward, we need to start figuring out how to mitigate the growing cold, because unlike global warming, global cooling is actually dangerous. Cold really does feed on itself in a way that can get away from us, and it directly constricts the space available for living things, both seasonally and absolutely. Nothing gobbles up the biosphere like glaciation.
It is the feedback mechanism that creates the danger. Spreading snow and ice increase the earth's "albedo," or reflectivity, bouncing sunlight away and cooling the earth, creating yet more snow and ice. Of course this feedback cycle also works in the warming direction, but with a big difference. In the warming direction, the albedo feedback effect gets smaller and smaller as warming progresses. Once snow and ice have shrunk back to arctic regions, they are that point only reflecting away a small amount of sunlight, so further melting cannot shrink the albedo much further.
In the cooling direction, the albedo feedback effect gets larger and larger as cooling progresses. When snow and ice come down to lower latitudes, they cover progressively larger swaths of land and they reflect away sunlight that is progressively more direct. This is why the earth regularly experiences runaway cooling, and spends most of its time in 100,000 year long glacial periods, but has never experienced run-away warming. Warming feedbacks diminish as they progress. Cooling feedbacks build.
The last two years are illustrative, as near record snow- cover in Asia and North America have spawned our present cool summer. We are seeing right now just how fast cooling feedbacks can ramp up, but there may be something we can do about it.
We just need to darken the snow. Where oh where can we get our hands on a massive steady supply of black sooty stuff that we can pump out onto the snow all winter long across the great white north?
Just build, build, build coal burning electric plants across North America, Scandinavia and Asia, and leave the scrubbers off the smokestacks. As a handy by-product, the resulting cheap energy will bring our "green"-around-the-gills economy rocketing back from its current death spiral.
If we would de-regulate energy development (real energy development, not the phony "green" garbage), our economy would start booming tomorrow, and there is absolutely no reason to regulate CO2.
The facts are in: the CO2 theory of late 20th century warming has been debunked
There are two competing theories of 20th century warming. One, backed by the known history of correlation between solar activity and global temperature, says it was caused by the extraordinarily high levels of solar activity between 1930 to 2000. The other, formulated by anti-capitalist ideologues who claimed in the 1970's that fossil fuels were causing global cooling, says that fossil fuels caused the warming from 1980-1998.
With both candidate causes galloping along at high levels until 2003, both theories claimed validation. Then the sun went quiet, as atmospheric CO2 continued to grow apace--the perfect experiment for finding which theory is correct--and the results are in. The planet is cooling, supporting the solar warming theory and debunking the CO2 warming theory.
The alarmist theory is not just wrong, but is actually an obvious case of omitted variable fraud. The only way the CO2 alarmists could pretend that the tiny CO2 greenhouse effect could cause runaway global warming was by completely omitting the known solar-magnetic warming influence from their models and misattributing this warming effect to CO2. As NASA climate-modeler Gavin Schmidt puts it:
[T]here is no obvious need for ‘new’ or unknown physics to explain what [is] going on.Schmidt feels no "need" to account a known warming effect when he can make his model work just as well (even better, for his purposes) by misattributing this warming effect to CO2. Dirtbag.
Solar warmists never behave in this anti-scientific way. They never omit CO2 greenhouse effects from their calculations, but only do what scientists are supposed to do: use reason and evidence to gauge the magnitude of the different warming effects as best as they can. Their calculation that the dominant climate driver is solar activity has now been confirmed. That means CO2 cannot cause run-away warming, which means that whatever warming effect it has is all to the good. In general, warming is good for people and other living things, while cooling is bad. Mankind and the biosphere both thrived when Greenland was green.
Now that we are entering a cooling phase, people may start wishing that CO2 had a significant warming effect, but it doesn't. The one place where CO2 can be of significant help is as a fertilizer for plant growth. With the shorter growing seasons that go with global cooling, we need as much of that effect as we can get. Thus there is a non-negligible grounds for subsidizing CO2, and no reason to suppress it, as our demented Democrats are doing.
Dirty coal might actually require subsidization
When the eco-religionists talk about "clean coal," they are not talking about soot at all, but are talking about sequestering the colorless, odorless, harmless plant-food called CO2. What we need is not just "dirty coal" in the CO2 emitting sense, but real dirty coal, chock full of good old fashioned snow-darkening soot.
Getting genuinely dirty coal power probably will require subsidization, because old-time soot is the byproduct of an inefficient burning process. It will take some R & D to develop plants that can be switched back and forth between fully efficient summer-mode burning, sans soot and sulpher, and "inefficient" winter burning, with black soot intact (efficient once the external value of soot is counted as an output).
Massive expansion of dirty northern coal-fired electrical generation will kill several birds with one stone: it will rejuvenate the world economy; it will decrease wintertime albedo cooling feedbacks, significantly mitigating global cooling; the release of CO2 from coal-burning will give some relief from cold-driven crop shrinkage; and it will contribute very slightly to the earth's blanket of greenhouse gases, mitigating global cooling itself by a very slight amount.
So that's my freebie. Dig here. Back to the future. Return to dirty coal. Hard to patent the past, but I predict that at least a few hefty diamonds will be pulled from this ash heap.