Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
by Fran on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:07:17 PM EST
Last Orders?: Tough Times for the Humble Beer Mat - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Small, beer-soaked and bedecked with all manner of slogans, the humble beer coaster has long been an essential part of a good pub or bar. But with its leading manufacturer now bankrupt, the cardboard institution may be heading for extinction.

For most of us, beer mats are just an insignificant piece of cardboard tucked under our glass of ale. But some have elevated the disposable coaster, which are a common sight in pubs in Britain and Germany, to a lofty status, considering it an art work, a collector's item, building material -- or even a piece of sporting equipment.

The record for beer-mat throwing stands at 38.26 meters (125.5 feet), while the highest beer-mat tower, created from more than 40,000 mats, stood proud at 9.70 meters. Leo Pisker, an Austrian, has an extensive collection of some 150,000 beer mats from around the world.

by Fran on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:14:02 PM EST
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M of A - Windy Friday
Over the last months two new wind turbines were erected about three miles from my place. These are the biggest ones on can currently buy with a maximum output above 6 megawatt each. Yesterday the blades for the second one were lifted to the top of the 135 meter high tower. The crane used was a brand new Demag CC9800-1 and the lifted nose section with the three rotor blades weighted 369 metric tons.
by Fran on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 01:31:26 PM EST
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the turbine is an Enercon E126, the largest turbine in the world (shared with the REpower 6M) with a rotor diameter of 126 meters.  Rated capacity at 6MW.

The tower is a hybrid of concrete and steel, hub height 135m.  The rotor blades are so large they are built in two sections, a first except for some experimental machines (I believe.)

the final lift is the hub section and three blades already fixed, weighing 369 metric tonnes.

There are at least five guys in this picture, and another standing atop the nacelle waiting for the pick to arrive.

Simply amazing.

There are several of these running in Germany since last year or longer.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 07:46:27 PM EST
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Hey what happened to the photos?  

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anas Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Apr 27th, 2009 at 11:38:12 AM EST
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The Technium

Up and down the six kingdoms of life, minds have evolved many times. So many times, in fact, that minds seem inevitable. Yet, as inordinately fond as nature is of minds, the technium, or the seventh kingdom of life, is even more so. The technium is biased to birth minds. All the inventions we have constructed to assist our own minds - our many storage devices, signal processing, flows of information, and  distributed communication networks, - all these are also the essential ingredients for producing new minds. And  so new minds spawn in the technium in inordinate degrees.

Technology is anything a mind makes. Built by minds, the technium is primed to make more minds. These mind children will be small, dim, and dumb at first, but tiny minds keep getting better. And more abundant. Last year there were 1 billion electronic brains etched into silicon. Many contained a billion transistors each but the smallest had a minimum of 100,000 transistors, about as many neurons as the brain of the rock ant. They, too, can do surprising feats. Tiny synthetic ant-minds know where on earth they are (GPS), and how to get back to your home, and remember the names of your friends, and translate foreign languages. These dim minds are finding their way into everything: shoes, door knobs, books, lamps, pets, beds, clothes, cars, light switches, kitchen appliances and toys.

We are blind to this massive eruption of minds in the technium because humans have a chauvinistic bias towards any kind of intelligence that does not precisely mirror a human's. Unless an artificial mind behaves exactly like a human, we don't count it as intelligent. Sometimes we dismiss it by calling it "machine learning." So while we aren't looking, billions of tiny minds, on the scale of biology, have blossomed in the technium.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Apr 24th, 2009 at 06:43:07 PM EST
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I'll be worried when machines can make independent efforts to survive, even at the level of a plant turning to the light or a bacteria edging away from an acid, instead of being designed to fail.
by Zwackus on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 04:46:16 AM EST
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Define "mind".

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt t gmail dotcom) on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 05:58:30 AM EST
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Saving the planet by numbers

A Cambridge Physicist has some suggestions:

I would like to suggest measuring energies in kilowatt-hours, and measuring how fast activities use or produce energy in kilowatt-hours per day.
One kilowatt-hour (1 kWh) is the electrical energy used by leaving a 40 watt bulb on for 24 hours (and it might cost you 10 or 15 pence (15 or 20 US cent)).
The chemical energy in the food we eat to stay alive amounts to about 3 kWh per day. Taking one hot bath uses about 5 kWh of heat. Driving an average car 50 kilometres uses 40 kWh of fuel.
In total, the British lifestyle (and I apologise to international readers but my study is based on British numbers) uses 125 kWh per day per person for transport, heating, manufacturing, and electricity.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 01:32:24 AM EST
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I would like to suggest measuring energies in kilowatt-hours

Considering a kWh is 3.6J, this is not a significant change in orders of magnitude from using Joules...

measuring how fast activities use or produce energy in kilowatt-hours per day

1 kWh/day is 0.15W.

But if he's suggesting abolishing horsepower, BTU, and all that nonsense I'm all for it.

But see this site from 2005... Order of magnitude morality

Let's think about energy consumption, and express it in ordinary human-scale units, instead of exajoules. In these calculations, I ignore all economic considerations, and think simply about the maximum available power.
Oh, wait, it's the same guy!

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 04:36:58 AM EST
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The useful idea is that actions (taking a bath, driving 50 kms, eating chocolate) can be compared though a common metric.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 04:47:03 AM EST
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Bob Hahl - who has actually monetised electricity just to show it can be done - has written illuminatingly on the subject of an electricity standard on his site.

about the electricity standard for kilowatt cards

Economist Joseph Stiglitz has spoken about past failures of the gold standard and the coming failure of the "dollar standard," predicting that all national currencies will eventually fail due to inflation, and be replaced by private currencies from competing companies, backed by gold and their reputations.

But electricity offers a unique alternative. It is a standard and pure product (120V, 60 Hz; U.S.) that is widely used by individuals. But it need not be owned, produced or delivered by the gift card system itself, as we demonstrate.

While the price of electricity is not stable, its value as a source of light, heat and motion is very stable to people. Unlike shiny gold, electricity does "work." Its value is objective because kilowatt-hours can be expressed in terms of light, heat, motion or fuel, by the conservation of energy principle (e.g., 1 kWh = 3412 BTU). As examples: reading at night, or traveling by train, uses about the same amount of electricity every time. So no matter its price in money, a fixed amount of electricity has the same value to individuals. "Savings" should have value to people.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 05:40:33 AM EST
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Yep. I had you in mind when I posted the original quote ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 05:59:31 AM EST
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As I thought...

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 at 06:10:46 AM EST
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