Monthly Archives: February 2011

Sea Ice References Links

Link to sea ice charts: This links to the blog of Anthony Watts who gathered these ice charts in one place for easy reference. Here is enough data to answer just about any questions about the arctic and antarctic ice variations over time.

I will write on this soon, but the charts are interesting in themselves and I thought you might like to study them without my comment, which will come along in a few days.


может быть (Maybe)

The magic “maybe” bag – the more central government control, the more maybe bags will exist.

In September, 1979, I was in a fusion energy meeting at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow and, during a coffee break, I began to talk with one of the Russians about some research. He opened his brief case to get a paper for me that he had written and this net-type bag fell out. He explained what it was for and how often the central planning group in the Soviet Government would screw up in having the right amount of an item produced for a particular area or city. In particular, he said he was looking for a pair of his size of dress shoes and, since they didn’t provide a box or bag at the store, he needed something to carry them if he were lucky enough to find his size. He called it his “maybe” bag, as in maybe I’ll find what I want/need.   Continue reading

Random Memories No 2 – Saying Goodbye to the Solar System

The two Voyager spacecraft are about to say goodbye to the solar system and enter interstellar space after 33 years in flight. 

In the 1970s I was working at GE’s Space Division in Valley Forge as the energy engineering manager. One of my groups was responsible for the design of a radioisotope power supply that would supply DC power for the Voyager spacecraft. For details see We had won the contract to provide the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena the power supplies for the two spacecraft that were launched in 1977. A key reason for our selection was that we had supplied radioisotope power supplies before for Apollo Missions 13 and 14 experiments.

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Nuclear Power Slowly Gaining Acceptance


I was reminded of this subject recently when I was sent some information about the Libyan bombing on April 15, 1986 which happened when I was on a European trip which lasted through April 26, 1986 when the Chernobyl reactor exploded and killed 47 workers who were trying to put out the fire. It had no containment structure such as is common in the rest of world.

There was quite a scare in Europe when radiation began being detected in Sweden and then some other countries. We were watching the news each evening as the announcers showed maps with the latest extent of the radioactivity which was drifting west. But, after 24 years it seems to me, after scanning various reports, that the damage to humans, animals and plants has been much, much less than the original panic indicated.

Japan, WWII

Nuclear energy came to the awareness of the world through the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, the first, and until now, the only atomic bombs used in war. It is understood that the use of nuclear energy started out under a terrifying cloud, literally and figuratively. And our biases, as would be expected, still tend to be negative and resistant to efforts to change them.

B-29 bombers practically obliterated 15 square miles of Tokyo on the night of March 9-10, 1945, resulting in an estimate by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police of 125,000 casualties, more than either A-bomb attack, but that information is just a footnote in history today. But over 300 B-29s flew on the night, not just the one as was over Hiroshima.

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