Monthly Archives: August 2011

13-Year-Old Designs Super-Efficient Solar Array Based on the Fibonacci Sequence

I’ve long been fascinated with “sacred geometry,” and the Fibonacci series and “golden mean,” in particular. This is an inspiring  story of observation and ingenuity, that suggests a breakthrough in solar energy technology.

13-Year-Old Designs Super-Efficient Solar Array Based on the Fibonacci Sequence

More preparedness resoures

A message from Jim Farley in Montana alerted me to Matt Stein’s new book, When Disaster Strikes. Jim is General Manager of SOS General Store and an expert on preparedness and survival. Jim says, “Besides getting off the power grid, we are very gung-ho about getting off the food grid.” In addition, he has a lot so say about alternative building systems and low-cost shelter. One of the systems that he works with is “prefabricated structural polystyrene panels with a wire mesh called Tridipanels.”

I asked my good friend Bill Ford, who happens to be a professional architect from Arizona, what he thought of this building system. Here is what he had to say:

I looked up tridipanel. I have seen it before; basically styrofoam with wire trusses projecting out from each face of the foam core. When you gunite each face with a minimum 1 1/2” of concrete it gets very strong and keeps the hard shell on both sides for durability and a little thermal mass to the interior. Good system. Expensive around here, so never caught on. More common are structurally insulated panels (SIPS) and a myriad of insulated concrete forms (ICFs). There are many ICF systems available. I am not crazy about SIPS because I don’t like the wafer board skins on the SIPS and I have never been crazy about putting all the mass (concrete) on the inside of the ICF. Durosol would be a preference for an ICF, since instead of foam, they use a natural insulating fiber and concrete mix. I also like Rastra which is pricey, but is considered an ICF. Durosol is used more in Canada. For the money, cinder blocks are still appealing and last forever. I try and stay away from frame because termites love it, but it is cheap. Adobe and rammed earth is always a favorite, but even here, it is expensive. Steel is good, but for residential, you have to be careful about expansion and contraction, i.e., creaking and cracking stucco. A lot of people are looking at architectural grade cement board products for exposed exterior skin over steel. Can work pretty good for inexpensive pre-fabs.

As the mega-crisis deepens and uncertainty builds about the system we rely on, it seems prudent to spend some time learning about how to provide for our own food, shelter, and energy needs.

The Bailout-A Parable

 I don’t know the origin of this parable, it came to me in an email message, but it captures the basic essence of the bailout scheme.-t.h.g.

Young Chuck moved to Texas and bought a Donkey from a farmer for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the Donkey the next day.

The next day he drove up and said, ‘Sorry son, but I have some bad News, the donkey died.’  Chuck replied, ‘Well, then just give me my money back.’   The farmer said, ‘Can’t do that. I went and spent it already.’   Chuck said, ‘Ok, then, just bring me the dead donkey.’  The farmer asked, ‘What ya gonna do with him? Chuck said, ‘I’m going to raffle him off.’  The farmer said You can’t raffle off a dead donkey!’  Chuck said, ‘Sure I can Watch me. I just won’t tell anybody he’s dead.’

A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, ‘What happened with that dead donkey?’   Chuck said, ‘I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars apiece and made a profit of $998.’  The farmer said, ‘Didn’t anyone complain?’  Chuck said, ‘Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back.’   Chuck now works for Goldman Sachs.

More data on cell phone use and cancer risks

Here’s an article that appeared in a Thai journal. It reports the results of a survey and gives recommendations for minimizing the risks of cell phone use.–t.h.g.

Overusing cellphones may cause cancer

By The Nation, 2011-08-04

After the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a warning that people who used mobile phones too much could face the risk of brain tumour, the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Institute (TCPI) said yesterday that Thais faced an even bigger risk because they slept with their cellphone placed near the headboard.

TCPI director Prawit Leesathapornwongsa said the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer study that cellphones had a “2B” classification, or that they could cause cancer. He said the study also found that people using their mobile phones for more than 1,640 hours faced a greater risk of developing glioma brain cancer. Those using a bluetooth hands-free device were 100 times less exposed to electromagnetic waves, while those using headphones faced 10 per cent less risk, he said. He also warned that these devices should not stuck in the ear while not being used. In addition, 3G phones are said to release 100 times less radioactive energy than the GSM phones, he added.

Prawit said a poll conducted in February found that Thai users were more exposed to radiation from cellphones because 64.5 per cent placed them at the top of their bed while sleeping, and 41.6 per cent carried their phone in their pocket. He urged people to keep their mobile phones away from them when they are not in use.