Category Archives: science & technology

Tech group helping Fukushima farmers fight radiation

Haven’t written about Fukushima for a very long time. People there are still living in “temporary” housing, the nuclear power plant is still being dismantled, the sunken radioactive cores have still not been salvaged, much land is still irradiated and closed to the public (and that includes the original inhabitants).

Here’s a short video by a tech group promoting their solution to one of the problems. I can’t comment on its efficacy, but I liked being updated about what’s happening there. It’s in Japanese with English subtitles. METER seems to be a US company. Some commenters are sceptical, but I see no contradiction in using technology to help clean up a technological disaster. Technology itself, like money, is neither good nor bad. It depends on how it is used: intelligently, with respect for the dignity and freedom of human beings? Or stupidly, in ignorance and without respect or understanding of what people really are? This video seems to me to document the former use.


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A new theory of cloud formation

Who’s got the time these days to watch an hour-long video? Certainly not you! This one traces the attempts by a Danish scientist to discover exactly what is the relationship between clouds and cosmic rays and the magnetic activity of the sun. He searches first for theoretical evidence, then later for experimental evidence. There’s an interesting scene where Svensmark gives his presentation and is told by one in the audience that his experiment is a waste of time and not worth conducting!

Link if the video won’t play: https://tinyurl.com/nb8d5hb


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Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Robert J. Geller: Back to the future: Restarting Japan’s nuclear power plants- Nikkei Asian Review

Robert J. Geller is professor of geophysics in the Graduate School of Science of the University of Tokyo.

In the Nikkei Asian Review, he makes 5 interesting suggestions for the future of nuclear power in Japan.

via Robert J. Geller: Back to the future: Restarting Japan’s nuclear power plants- Nikkei Asian Review.

Here’s a brief summary of his points。I agree with all except #4: I want to see more evidence that nationalizing TEPCO will improve the company’s “safety culture”.

  1. First, in the three years since the Fukushima Daiichi accident we still haven’t fully learned what went wrong or how to avoid the recurrence of similar problems. Tohoku Electric Power allowed full access to an international team of engineers who conducted a walkdown (a detailed inspection) of its Onagawa plant and agreed in advance to allow publication of the conclusions, whether positive or negative (in fact they were positive). In contrast, Tokyo Electric Power, known as Tepco, hasn’t provided outside experts with enough access to its plants.
  2. [T]here’s no such thing as a “maximum earthquake” or “maximum tsunami” — that’s just not how the Earth works. Each plant must be built to withstand specified levels of earthquakes and tsunamis, which we call the “design basis.” As the design basis is increased, the probability of an earthquake (or tsunami) in excess of it decreases (and the costs to the plant operator, and ultimately to the consumer, increase) but no matter how large we set the design basis there will always be some non-zero probability of an event in excess of it. The ultimate decision on what risks are acceptable and what risks are not is inherently political and should not be tasked to regulators.
  3. Japan’s regulators are placing too much emphasis on the issue of so-called “active faults” near nuclear power plants, while at the same time they are not paying nearly sufficient attention to the tsunami issue, especially on the Sea of Japan coast.
  4. it seems highly desirable for the government to fully nationalize Tepco and bring in new management, as was done successfully with JAL several years ago. After breaking up the company into a sustainable part and a Fukushima clean-up part, the former could eventually be reprivatized.
  5. if the government does decide to approve the restart of one or more nuclear power plants, this should and must be done with the understanding that there is some non-zero risk of an accident. It should prepare now for emergency countermeasures, including evacuations, information release, and compensation for those affected. It should also announce these preparations now.

via Robert J. Geller: Back to the future: Restarting Japan’s nuclear power plants- Nikkei Asian Review.


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Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Spoof video – your phone, the latest surveillance technology

[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSJqBJ1TF-E#t=70′]


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Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2012/02/25 06:29 – Osaka Gas, SunEdison Jump On Megasolar Bandwagon

OSAKA Nikkei–Osaka Gas Co. 9532 and U.S. firm SunEdison plan to get involved in the construction of large solar power plants in Japan, highlighting the strong interest in this growing field as the country promotes renewable energy with various policy incentives.

Companies are investing on the view that the market is set to expand in line with the July launch of a program that will require utilities to buy all the power generated from renewable energy at set prices.

SunEdison is a subsidiary of major silicon wafer manufacturer MEMC. It has a track record of building more than 390 solar power plants worldwide, including in the U.S. and Europe.

Canadian Solar Inc. will build and operate megasolar plants in Japan. The Canadian company hopes to construct four or five facilities this year, each with an output of 500kw to 2,000kw. It will sell some of the power generated. This would be the first time that a major solar cell manufacturer from overseas generates electricity in Japan.

(The Nikkei Feb. 25 morning edition)

via 2012/02/25 06:29 – Osaka Gas, SunEdison Jump On Megasolar Bandwagon.


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Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2012/02/24 00:01 – Panasonic Introduces Residential Solar Power Package

OSAKA Nikkei–Panasonic Corp. 6752 on Thursday unveiled a solar power management and storage system for homes with the capacity to meet essential electricity needs for roughly two days.

The package includes a 4.65kwh lithium ion storage battery and a power station that regulates the solar cells and battery. The battery is priced at 1.21 million yen, with the power station going for 672,000 yen. The company, which will begin accepting orders on March 21, is targeting sales of 1,500 sets in fiscal 2012.

The system enables excess power generated during the day to be used at night. In the event of a power outage, it would be capable of supplying electricity for the bare minimum essentials, such as lights and the refrigerator, for around two days.

(The Nikkei Feb. 24 morning edition)

via 2012/02/24 00:01 – Panasonic Introduces Residential Solar Power Package.

See more at Panasonic’s Eco ideas House exhibition in Tokyo, and Panasonic’s Fuel Cell cogeneration system.


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Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Nuclear Reactor Shutdowns Hitting Local Govt Budgets

At the end of last year, a friend sent me an email saying, “Apparently, all those nuclear power stations are not so vital after all”, after most of them went offline and the sky didn’t fall. Think I should forward this article to my friend?

TOKYO (Nikkei)–With no prospect for the resumption of idle reactors, 11 of the 13 prefectures that host nuclear power plants are likely to forecast no nuclear fuel tax revenue for next fiscal year.

The two exceptions are Aomori and Fukui. Last November, Fukui became the first prefecture in Japan to pass an ordinance allowing it to collect the tax even when reactors are not generating electricity. Aomori enacted a similar measure in December that will go into effect as early as April.

For the fiscal year ending next month, the 13 prefectures had been forecasting a combined 42.8 billion yen in nuclear fuel tax revenue, but the take is now expected be at least 16.4 billion yen smaller.

via 2012/02/15 05:48 – Nuclear Reactor Shutdowns Hitting Local Govt Budgets.

Collecting tax, whether or not the plant is generating electricity? How much arm-twisting had to go into bringing about that “agreement”, I wonder? Yikes!


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Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2012/02/15 05:06 – Toshiba, Others Bringing Small Generators To Market

Three cheers for the entrepreneurs (and for supply and demand in a free market)! But how do they do it without government support? (Jus’ kidding 🙂

Sinfonia Technology Co. (6507) plans to release this spring a small energy generation system that combines solar, wind and water power, in addition to having lead batteries capable of storing about 10kwh. With a price tag estimated at 40 million yen, the product will be marketed as an emergency power supply for domestic and overseas regions that are not connected to power grids, such as isolated islands.

Hitachi High-Technologies Corp. (8036) has developed a small machine that uses solar power to operate a water purification system and diverts excess energy to storage batteries. It has already begun selling the product, mainly in Indonesia.

The electricity shortage in Japan caused by the March disaster has boosted demand for in-house power generators. Demand is projected to grow further with the July launch of a program requiring utilities to purchase at fixed prices all electricity generated by renewable energy projects.

via 2012/02/15 05:06 – Toshiba, Others Bringing Small Generators To Market.


I recommend the following digital products: WP GDPR Fix, a WordPress plugin that quickly and easily helps you make your WP blog GDPR compliant. Brett Kelly's "Evernote Essentials", Dan Gold's $5 guides to Getting Everything Done with Evernote and Springpad, and DocumentSnap Solutions' Paperless Document Organization Guides. Be sure to try DocumentSnap's free email course on going paperless first before buying his products. Sign up for it on his homepage.
Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Japan Utilities Facing Supply Crunch As Mercury Drops

TOKYO Nikkei–The cold wave sweeping across Japan is pushing electricity companies close to the edge, with power demand surging to the danger zone of above 90% of capacity at six utilities.At Kyushu Electric Power Co. 9508, power demand on Friday peaked at 14.77 million kilowatts between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. The second-highest so far this winter, the high demand was caused by record-low temperatures in the southern Japan utility’s service area, including 3.4 C below freezing in the city of Fukuoka.With trouble at one of its fossil-fuel power plants exacerbating the situation, peak power demand reached 94% of capacity. To avert power shortages, Kyushu Electric received a total of 2.4 million kilowatts in emergency supplies from Tokyo Electric Power Co. 9501 and five other companies.

But with the colder-than-normal weather forecast to grip Japan for some time to come, the crisis situation will likely continue at Tohoku Electric and other power utilities.

via 2012/02/04 02:48 – Utilities Facing Supply Crunch As Mercury Drops.


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Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

They’re back! (Well, will be soon) – the Fukushima robots

TOKYO Nikkei–The Chiba Institute of Technology has built two improved versions of a robot designed to help with the cleanup efforts at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the school announced Monday.

The Quince No. 2 and No. 3 nuclear-cleanup robots are more rugged than their predecessor.Dubbed Quince No. 2 and No. 3, the machines are based on their predecessor, Quince, which the university developed with two other institutes and was deployed at the Fukushima plant last year.

They are operated remotely via control devices linked to the robots via communication cables. In addition to cameras and dosimeters, they are loaded with laser scanners that can capture 3-D images of debris and other obstacles inside the reactors.

via 2012/02/01 12:29 – Revamped Robots Ready For Nuclear Recon Mission.


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Disclosure of Material Connection: My recommendations above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission. Your cost will be the same as if you order directly. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”