Favorite Invention Thursdays

I was recently discussing the water crisis in Cape Town with my colleagues, and how they are currently heavily restricted in the amount of water they can use per day for fear that the entire city will run dry very soon. We often hear about how certain cities and countries are the driest they have ever been, and how this will only get worse as climate change progresses.

The thing is, I remember the water cycle from primary school. If certain parts of the world get drier, it means that other parts of the world get wetter. The planet as a whole cannot lose water. So, if it doesn’t rain anymore in South Africa, or California, it means that in other parts of the world it is going to start raining far more than usual.

The problem isn’t that the planet “runs out” of water, the problem is getting the water to the appropriate places. Given the way that the Earth is made, alot of that excess water is probably getting dumped into the oceans.

So, how to we transport that water to the places that need it most?

I proposed some kind of barge that could collect rainwater in the ocean and ferry it back to land. My colleague instead proposed a proper desalination method which is run on renewable energy, which can reextract water from the ocean.

I started poking about online and would you know, that second proposal actually exists, and they have been around for quite some time.

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Science Joke Saturdays

In honor of Stephen Hawking, this week I wanted to share a scientist joke rather than a science one.

 

His appearances on shows like the Big Bang Theory always made me think that he had a good sense of humor. This story makes me believe that even more.

Favorite Invention Thursdays

Some of the best inventions are simple and elegant, and when I first heard about this I thought, why has this not been done before?

 

Of course it makes perfect sense. Black things, like black asphalt, absorb heat. Any of you who have been to a hot city will know the feeling of the heat baking off the street in a disgusting humid wave. So, why not combat this by painting the roads white?

They mention in the video that they are testing this in LA, and that they are using an extra special kind of paint which is quite expensive but particularly suitable to reduce the temperature in the city. Despite its cost I do think that, if it works, this cost is mitigated by the reduction of costs associated with care for people suffering heat stroke, the reduction of cost of air conditioning, and of course the reduction of CO2 emissions associated with the extra power normally used for those air conditioners.

I am very curious to see the results of this experiment. In the meantime, good on LA for trying it out.

We Have Lost A Great Mind

I was devastated to hear that Stephen Hawking died today at the age of 76. I know he was very sick for a very long time, but he also had an amazing intellect and he will be sorely missed. I always suck at what to say in these situations, and how to express my reasons for feeling so sad about the death of someone I have never met, so I will leave it and instead quote Neil Degrasse Tyson, whose tweet about Stephen Hawking‘s passing is one of the best put that I have seen.

 

His passing has left an intellectual vacuum in his wake. But it’s not empty. Think of it as a kind of vacuum energy permeating the fabric of spacetime that defies measure. Stephen Hawking, RIP 1942-2018

 

Maybe this one is a little too soon, but I also can’t sign off completely without including the tweet from @TheTweetOfGod

 

It’s only been a few hours and Stephen Hawking already mathematically proved, to My face, that I don’t exist.

 

The Stephen Hawking that I invented in my head would have liked that.

I still have his latest book on my shelf, waiting to be opened. Maybe now is the time to find the time to read it.