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There’s a free lecture series (it’s also a course but attendance is open) at HUT Aalto University about new energy technologies, organized by a friend of mine who works at the lab there. Here’s the lecture program (they will be held in the mechanical engineering building):

Thu 9.9. Introduction. Prof. Markku Lampinen: Energy conversion – From nanomachines to renewable sources.
Thu 16.9. CO2, greenhouse effect and climate change. Dr. Jouni Räisänen, University of Helsinki
Thu 23.9. Looking for a carbon storage, biochar as a win-win solution. Dominic Woolf, Swansea University, UK.
Thu 30.9. Biomass solutions for replacing coal: biochar, biomass gasification, multifuel power plants. Jukka Rouhiainen, Helsingin Energia.
Thu 7.10. Research on bioorganic fuel cells as power sources.
Professor Yohannes Kiros, KTH, Sweden.
Thu 14.10. Microturbines, a technology for local energy production. Professor Jari Backman, Lappeenranta Technical University.
Thu 21.10. Energy efficiency – “Negawatts” for cheap.
(Thu 28.10. middle term exams)
Thu 4.11. Wave power. Dr. Ana Brito e Melo, Wave energy centre, Portugal.
Thu 11.11. Geothermal energy, overview and the possibilities. Professor Eva Schill, Université de Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
Thu 18.11. Grätzel solar cells. Millennium prize winning breakthrough in solar energy.
Thu 25.11. Energy solutions for traffic – Which will win?
Thu 2.12. Student seminar
Thu 9.12. Student seminar (last lecture/seminar)

Reserve topics:
Wind power.
Passive heat technology/thermal engineering.
Solar thermal energy (STE).

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..is despicable.

They take clearly too little water.
They take it clearly too slowly.

They idle far too much at the beginning.
They idle far too much at the end.

They do not offer fast forward capability like mechanical machines did.
They do not show their current status like mechanical machines did.
They’re often broken like mechanical machines were.

They make it unclear which programs have pre-wash and which don’t.
They make everything else pretty unclear too, like what a particular button does.

An ideal washing machine:
Large intake hose (or two if it is a model that takes warm water too where district heating or wood heating is available). When the user presses start, the machine starts taking water at full speed at that precise microsecond, unless it is gauging the weight of the laundry.
Laundry weighing will be done in a few spins, after which water intake commences with no delay.
A display shows the state of the machine. At least the following states are displayable: pre-wash, wash, rinse, spin.
A fast forward mechanism moves the machine to the next state.
A stop mechanism stops the machine in any state.
After the laundry is spun, the machine can spin slowly and reverse a few times to unstick the clothes from the drum walls, but this can be stopped and the laundry removed from the drum immediately.
The spin is braked so it doesn’t take minutes to coast down.
The temperature of the wash can be changed even if the program or wash has already started without having to reset or flush.
The spin cycle can be enabled or disabled even if the program or spin has already started without having to reset or flush.
Extra water can be enabled in the middle of the program.
etc etc.

All this was possible with seventies mechanical logic industrial washing machines. Note that almost all of it is pure logic whose cost is pretty much exactly zero once you’ve developed it, and other things like large hoses are trivial improvements.

If you will use this specification when designing a washing machine, then send me a machine: I will test it and say what improvements still have to be made.

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Rand Simberg talks about impedance matching. So I’d like to make a post of my comment there (I’ve always wondered why this obvious alternative gets mentioned so little…)

What to do when you arrive at Mars or Earth with your solar electric propelled vessel?

So, the problem with most low fuel demand velocity change schemes is that they only give slow accelerations. Low fuel high velocity change means solar or nuclear electric propulsion and aerocapture mainly.

High delta vee aerobraking is hard to do in one pass – it gets dangerous because of atmospheric variability and potentially other reasons.

Simple: detach a small capsule with the humans that goes directly to the surface (with only days of life support) and leave the untended craft to do multi-pass aerobraking. Hitting van Allen belts a few more times or taking a long time doesn’t matter that much with no humans onboard.

You could also potentially ultimately leave the long distance craft at some Lagrange point instead of LEO. (Cue some clever and complex maneuvers to save fuel – maneuvers that take long.)

Something similar could also be done when a long distance stack is assembled in LEO: send the humans there only after it’s through the belts. They can go with a smallish capsule again. Potentially at some Lagrange point, or in space without any fixed reference, just along the way. It could be dangerous though if the capsule doesn’t have much life support.

Many of these things have potential delta vee penalties as well as timing inflexibilities, but they could have enough other benefits that they should be considered.

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NASA Flight Controllers

Apollo 11 JSC KSC Flight Control, pre-launch

All these people had to get paid. Even when there wasn’t a launch. Well, to be exact: until the money was spent and there weren’t gonna be any more launches, which was a few years from this photo.

From the new NASA Flickr database.

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And it is awesome and Japanese. Just put a person on top and raise the speed.

[Embedding seems to have problems]

http://www.youtube.com/watch#v=bI06lujiD7E

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Sukhoi T-50 Video

Showing closeups of the new Russian stealth fighter on the ground, testing thrust vectoring, showing the drooping forward wing gloves, and then in flight. It’s a treat!

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Haven’t followed his reporting but apparently it’s been overtly critical of the F-35. [add standard rants and speculations of industry journalism and corruption and ad revenue etc] He has written a book on the subject before so I’d gather he has investigated it quite a lot. Maybe he still got speculative and overextended. I don’t really know as I don’t have enough expertise to judge. He’s a good writer nevertheless.

EDIT: I misread the reporting, he’s still on the payroll but just not reporting on the F-35 anymore.

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