[ExI] Efficiency of wind power

spike spike66 at att.net
Thu Apr 7 23:16:11 UTC 2011

>... On Behalf Of Damien Broderick

>...while another agrees strenuously with you:

>...<As I've said before any nuclear reaction with by products such as
neutrons or gammas and operating at these power levels would fry everyone in
the room.  The same comment applies here. Imagine 10% of the mass being
copper 62 which I see has a radioactivity of 1.2 x 10^7 Terabecquerels per
gram, you can see the problem... Damien Broderick

{8^D  haaaaaaa this is a classic physicist joke.  {8^D  I did get a hearty
laugh, but this time I was laughing at my own foolish self: when I made the
original comment, I hadn't done that calculation.  But he is right on, and I
shoulda spotted it: the amount of material sitting there with a 10 minute
half life would cause all present to flee in all directions at once, for
several seconds, until their flesh burned away from their scorched and
smoking skeletal remains, from gamma emmisions alone, ignoring any other
radioactive effects, such as fast neutrons which will also spoil one's day.
One can ignore stuff like neutron flux for BOTECs, since gamma radiation
makes for easy calculations of energy levels and estimates how much would be
absorbed by any unfortunate proles standing in the same zip code.

There is another way to do the calculation however, one which I actually
found a bunch of years ago in an analysis of a SF story written by Isaac
Asimov about a goose that laid golden eggs.  The story was in jest of
course, but the analysis went thru a calculation showing that if proton
capture could take place and the goose devoured a sufficient amount of
platinum, using the nucleon energy criterion, a goose could (with a strong
dose of imagination) convert the platinum and lay a golden egg.  The story
as I recall from perhaps 25 yrs ago did note the fact that this would
actually destroy value, as platinum is more valuable per nucleon than is

Asimov went on to show that it was not possible to go back the other way,
having the goose devour a mercury isotope and forming the gold via (as I
vaguely recall) alpha decay coupled with a mysterious proton capture, or by
having the goose eat thallium and having the goose somehow catalyze the
stable isotope undergo alpha decay somehow.  Again we draw the curtain of
mercy upon the exact mechanism, for it all goes on in the gizzard of a
goose, but just end-state energy balance of the nucleons demonstrate that
the energy required to drive such a reaction would have the goose devouring
and digesting several tons of grain a day per gram of gold produced, which
would be far more costly than the resulting precious metal, as well as
creating a mess in the barnyard.  Still the calculations are fun and not

Math is so cool.  Physics even more so.  Get those two guys working
together, and one has nearly infinite opportunities to entertain oneself.


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