Eth: 0x00cce8E2e56a543abc084920eee3f88eFD0921ea

Monday, October 31, 2011

Beacon Power Bankrupted by Regulations

Beacon Power is a good example of a company going bankrupt due to interference by regulators. Beacon received a $45 million loan from the federal government. Meanwhile, regulatory agencies slashed the prices that Beacon could demand for their services and effectively squeezed the company dry:
As a regulated industry, utilities were only allowed to pay a fixed rate set by government regulators for Beacon's services, the DOE said. The rate was not high enough for the company to survive. (source)
This is a clear demonstration that regulators do not know what is best for the energy market. The hidden cost of "low prices" and "rate regulation" is that companies margins are cut to the point that operations no longer bring in profits. At that point, it is more effective to close up shop and move to a different industry than it is to keep working in the same industry.

I say to you utilities regulators: Fie! Fie! Fie! Let the market decide what the price should be. The road to more expensive power is paved with your maladroit regulations. Sure you may push prices down in the short run with regulations, but when those companies go out of business as Beacon Power has, prices will go up.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Drag Effects in Low Earth Orbit

Designing spacecraft to survive low earth orbit is a challenge. Atomic oxygen is attempting to dissolve the leading surface of the craft, sunlight is pumping heat into your satellite and the gravity gradient and magnetic fields are playing with your attitude control systems. Most exciting, however, is the fact that the neutral atmosphere which can reach up to 1200km altitude, it in a slow dance with your craft. The atmosphere that exists up at 300km altitude is not as thick as down here at sealevel, but your satellite is trying to pass through it at 7km/second. At those speeds, there are enough particles to seriously effect your satellite, slow it down, and drag it back down to earth. Not to mention during solar max, the number of particles increases by a factor of three or more! That's like, wooooah!

So what can we do about this? Slap a thruster to your satellite and have it boost you back up to the speed and altitude you want. "But how much energy will this really take?" you might wonder. I'll give you an example:

A satellite with 1m^2 of leading surface area traveling at 300km circular orbit around earth with an engine efficiency of 150 seconds would require something on the order of 34 kg per year to stay in orbit. "That's fantastic" you're thinking. "Only an extra 34kg and I'm good to go!" Slow down there cowboy, there's a bit more to it than that see, if you go 50km lower, you need 3x that amount of fuel (103kg), and if you go 50km higher, you need only x1/3 of that fuel (11kg). Not to mention, if you satellite is traveling around during a solar maximum (lots of solar radiation and particles) you'll need 3x the amount of fuel for all those orbits!

So now you're thinking, "OK so I orbit the earth at 250km which means i need 34x3kg fuel and then during a solar max I need 34x3x3 kg! That's crazy! I liked just having to use 34kg of fuel." Well life ain't that easy. I've included a graph which can help illuminate things.

This is showing you graphically what we just talked about. The baseline case is shown in blue. When there is more (or less) solar activity, it changes the amount of fuel required to stay in orbit. This is because increased solar activity heats up the atmosphere (a gas) which then expands. As it expands, it pushes the top layers further up. This means that at 300km the density of the neutral environment (think air) increases as there is more solar activity. Conversely, the density of the neutral environment decreases when there is less solar activity. This means that if you're lucky and you are flying during a solar min period, you don't need to store as much fuel on your satellite.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lessons Learned from the US / EU Financial Crisis:

The most succinct summation of the breakdown of monetary logic following the financial crisis: 
That there is no price to be paid for spending money wastefully, no risk in lending to the reckless and no point in saving your money since it will be confiscated to pay for the folly of those who have not.
                             -James Whyte, philosopher and Senior Fellow fo the Cobden Centre and author of Crimes Against Logic. Posted on BBC news.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

DELab update for MatLab 7

Download (MatLab 7 Compatible) 

DELab is a GUI-based front end to M ATLAB that implements the analytic, graphical, and numerical tools used in the text Differential Equations: Modeling with MATLAB, Prentice Hall, 1999. Main Website

Save either file to a convenient directory (e.g., matlabr11/work/delab), unzip or unpack ("tar xf delab.tar") the file, add that directory to your MATLAB path using either the addpath command (type "help addpath" in the MATLAB command window) or the Path Browser (choose File/Set Path... from the MATLAB menu bar), and type "delab" in the MATLAB command window to start DELab.

DELab requires MATLAB 5.3 (Release 11) or higher.
Please send questions, comments or suggestions to Paul Davis at; put "DELab" in the subject line.

DELab is copyright 1999, 2000 by Paul Davis. It is for non-profit educational use only.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

G1 USB Unable to Mount

I was having a problem whereby when I plugged my G1 into my Vista machine, it would not mount so I could not retrieve files or download pictures. I found this useful walkthrough which fixed the problem. Basically the problem is that the computer is mounting the device as an HTC dream as opposed to USB storage. Original Post here:

Finally, I got it work on my vista ultimate.

Here is what I do, hope it can help.

1. Just as lots of people mentioned, I did not see removable disk showing in Explorer after I connect G1 to computer. Even I tried mount on the phone, it still doesn't work.

2. Then I go to Device Manager, I don't even see any USB Mass Storage Device at all un Unversal Serial Bus controllers.

3. Because I know the device is connected, I decide to expand all the devices. Immediately, I notice there is a device called HTC dream.

4. We all know G1 is HTC and but it is recognized as HTC dream device rather than USB Mass Storage Device.

5. Now let's change it back to USB Mass Storage Device.

6. Right-Click on the device (HTC dream), select Update Driver Software (it is the first menu item).

7. Do not search automatically, click the second one (Browse my computer for driver software).

8. In next pare, choose Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer.

9. Now you will see two drivers are listed (select check box for Show compatible hardware)

10. Select USB Mass Storage Device and click Next.

11. After installing, now removable disk is shown in explorer.

12. When try to open the disk, it will ask you "Please insert a disk into Removable Disk".

13. Back to you phone, from notification bar, mount you sd from USB connected.

14. You can open to browse you SD card from your computer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Asteroid Tumbling Normalization with Momentum Wheel

The complexity behind landing on an asteroid surface and taking scientific measurements is increased when the spin profile of the asteroid is not about the principal axis of inertia. Tumbling asteroids present unique challenges to landing craft which can be alleviated through use of a momentum wheel. As a precursor to the main science mission, a simple spacecraft containing a momentum wheel would be secured to the asteroid. Over time, the angular momentum of the asteroid would transfer from the minor inertial axis to the major axis. This would greatly decrease the risk of the following science mission and would also provide for simplified thrusting along the principal axis if orbit modification or deflection of the asteroid was required.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How to Update Civ4 MAC and PC

Problem Statement:
Civilization 4 Beyond the Sword is a game that many of us know and love. However, Firaxis & 2K Games capability to distribute and communicate how to patch these games is limited. My finacee and I tried updating her MAC using the ingame tool only to find that they had downloaded a .EXE file (comical laugh). When I tried to upgrade from my 3.03 PC version using the ingame tool it downloaded and then promptly did, nothing at all. Here is a walkthrough which will allow you to update to the most recent patch level manually, and avoid the two hours of frustration that we experienced.

Problem Solution:
Patch Civ4 for PC
Open Civ4 Beyond the Sword and select Advanced / About This Build. They list the Civ Version number without periods so if you have build 303 that means you are patched up to 3.03. Once you know which patch level you are currently at, download each patch above that and install sequentially from the Firaxis website. That is to day, if you are at 3.03, you need to download and install patches in this order: 3.13, 3.17, and finally 3.19.

Patch Civ4 for MAC
(I think the MAC version was initially released at 3.17 so you need to upgrade to 3.19 and beyond but you don't have to start as low as 3.03.) Follow the instructions for Civ4 for PC but you need different patch files (.exe files don't play well with MACs). One site you can download your files from is Atomic Gamer:

Final Comments:
Please comment with any updated links to MAC and PC patch content. And as always, before you download something from the internet, make sure it is coming from a trusted source.