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Old 13-02-2010, 06:39   #76
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When physicists first looked at the reality of putting a man on the moon in the 1960's, they came to the conclusion that existing technology wouldn't allow it. We didn't have the ability to store enough fuel to burn a big enough engine to escape Earth's pull, reach the moon, and come back safely. The project was stuck.

Then something happened that us humans are really good at. A different perspective was found and a new creative way of looking at the problem (and solution) was considered. Instead of shooting a rocket directly to the moon, what if the rocket spun around the Earth, building speed through centrifugal force, and then shot off to the moon from there. Reduce weight a little and the added energy gained by the circumnavigation would be enough to reach the moon. It was called the slingshot approach. And that's what eventually allowed Apollo 11 to land and return safely.

Today, again, traditional physics explains the problems in solving the very difficult problems we face - energy, water purification, whatever. And while the purely scientific view is critically important, it's also time to use our human resources and allow some creativity to add to the science to solve the problems. I guess I'm saying that we need some new slingshot ideas.

I've always thought that hydrogen was a good source of energy. As already discussed, there are significant issues with creating pure forms and storing it. So perhaps the answer isn't in keeping it stored. What if it were created or separated just as it was consumed. I don't keep my entire water tank pressurized to have running water on my boat. I have a small pressure tank that provides just enough for what's needed and the ability to create more pressure as demand continues. Perhaps there are materials other than water that give off hydrogen using only a little bit of energy and then create waste products that aren't harmful. And perhaps if the material were solid, then the density of the material would contain much more hydrogen.

I'm not sure if any of these things could actually work. I'm not a physicist or chemist. But I do know that it won't be the physicists or chemists alone who solve this. It'll be a group of creative people pushing the scientists with a lot of "what if" questions. And that's where we all come in...
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Old 13-02-2010, 07:36   #77
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Excellent post Jeffery.....I'm all fired up now!!
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Old 13-02-2010, 22:31   #78
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I think there are cars driving on hydrogen already... they have it in a tank...

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Old 13-02-2010, 23:18   #79
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The thing about "the box" is that nothing works outside it.

Anybody can think "outside the box", right? Especially if they don't understand the box in the first place. The REAL genius works inside the box, and in the process, maybe figures out where an edge is.

Outside the box is for Hollywood, sci fi, and mythology.
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Old 13-02-2010, 23:41   #80
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Originally Posted by anotherT34C View Post
The thing about "the box" is that nothing works outside it.

Anybody can think "outside the box", right? Especially if they don't understand the box in the first place. The REAL genius works inside the box, and in the process, maybe figures out where an edge is.

Outside the box is for Hollywood, sci fi, and mythology.
The problem with that is: who defines the box? I would assume the scientific community? Well, they all announced Einstein for crazy and his theories utterly flawed... but they didn't realize he was so much smarter than themselves and knew the box was much bigger than anyone thought.

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Old 13-02-2010, 23:54   #81
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Nature defines the box. We only discover what's already there.

And nobody thought Einstein was crazy. That's a bit of urban legend. His PhD thesis was quite famous (it defined an important thermodynamic law that bears his name), as was his explanation of the photoelectric effect (for which he was later to be awarded a Nobel Prize). Trust me... when Einstein published special and general relativity, nobody was laughing.
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Old 13-02-2010, 23:59   #82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anotherT34C View Post
The thing about "the box" is that nothing works outside it.

Anybody can think "outside the box", right? Especially if they don't understand the box in the first place. The REAL genius works inside the box, and in the process, maybe figures out where an edge is.

Outside the box is for Hollywood, sci fi, and mythology.
I think that the "box" is in some ways another word for the rut. I worked in telco for a number of years but I came to it from a network software developers background. People were forever telling me something wasn't possible because to them the SS7 network was a close box. To me it was just a protocol conversion challenge and if an idea existed it was worth exploring. Boring, yes, but nothing close to impossible. I developed a reputation for "thinking outside of the box" simply because the walls of the box weren't real for me.

Call it what you will but it is easy to get trapped by convention or belief.
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Old 14-02-2010, 00:13   #83
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I think that the "box" is in some ways another word for the rut. I worked in telco for a number of years but I came to it from a network software developers background. People were forever telling me something wasn't possible because to them the SS7 network was a close box. To me it was just a protocol conversion challenge and if an idea existed it was worth exploring. Boring, yes, but nothing close to impossible. I developed a reputation for "thinking outside of the box" simply because the walls of the box weren't real for me.

Call it what you will but it is easy to get trapped by convention or belief.
Sure. I think we're just using the phrase a bit differently. My "box" is the laws of nature. 'Spelling' is a convention, physics is the law.
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Old 14-02-2010, 00:37   #84
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Physics is a supposition that suits certain parameters. Sir Isaac Newton was brilliant and formulated very useful rules but he was wrong. It shook Albert Einstein to his core when he understood that because he had so much respect for the man. Einstein was unable to get beyond his own beliefs in how it should be and even though he could see the appearancy of the quantum he didn't believe in it. At extremes physics as we understand it breaks down because there isn't a unifying theory. The "laws" of physics are really descriptions of what we presume is the box and given the difficulties imposed by the uncertainty principle we may never understand the box fully.

<topical pretense>Of course without a big enough sail to approach the speed of light or mass in the keel to bend space/time Newton will do just fine. </topical pretense>
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Old 14-02-2010, 03:23   #85
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When I say "think outside the box" it only means outside the norm....
Now back to the subject...so we have these tubes that will generate at least 85F and we have the cool sea water...cant we get some fresh water out of this?
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Old 14-02-2010, 05:43   #86
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When I say "think outside the box" it only means outside the norm....
Now back to the subject...so we have these tubes that will generate at least 85F and we have the cool sea water...cant we get some fresh water out of this?
Correction...85c
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Old 14-02-2010, 06:41   #87
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Nature defines the box. We only discover what's already there.
You're right with your box analogies. You can think any crazy, way-out theory that you want, but when it comes to building something, it can only happen inside the box.

However...

If "the box" is defined as nature, then you really mean "what we know about nature". It's creativity that expands what we know and sometimes moves the box out a little. Certainly we don't know everything there is to know about nature? I hope not.

I'm at a point where I want a watermaker right now. We carry enough water for about a month of cruising but if we go to Cuba and further into the Caribbean, I know I'll want a consistent and easy source.

I hate the idea of spending some $6,000 - $10,000 for a watermaker that then gives me the privilege of spending an amp+ for each gallon I produce. I'm at the boat show">Miami Boat Show and have looked at the 8 or so vendors selling the exact same type of unit. That tells me that "the box" is set because no one has another solution. Either we need some way to generate lots of energy (a trillion dollar idea) or we need another way to purify water that's practical and hopefully affordable (a billion dollar idea). More likely are a few million dollar ideas that will get us further along the path until one of those breakthroughs occur.
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Old 14-02-2010, 07:05   #88
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Just suppose you had a solar powered kettle, boiling a batch of water, maybe a gallon by volume with the steam/vapour rising up the spout and into a cooling coil.

Pure water is distilled and the residue is salt, marine critters etc. Unlike RO, where 80% of passthrough is needed to back wash the membrane, most distilate is going to result in fresh water.

In household solar heating systems, its not uncommon for a pressurised system to reach in excess of 200c at the collector manifold on a good day. Therefore, I dont see any problems with the efficiency or economics of distillation, just the practicalities of designing and setting up such a system on a boat
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Old 14-02-2010, 09:34   #89
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Physics is a supposition that suits certain parameters. Sir Isaac Newton was brilliant and formulated very useful rules but he was wrong. It shook Albert Einstein to his core when he understood that because he had so much respect for the man. Einstein was unable to get beyond his own beliefs in how it should be and even though he could see the appearancy of the quantum he didn't believe in it. At extremes physics as we understand it breaks down because there isn't a unifying theory. The "laws" of physics are really descriptions of what we presume is the box and given the difficulties imposed by the uncertainty principle we may never understand the box fully.

<topical pretense>Of course without a big enough sail to approach the speed of light or mass in the keel to bend space/time Newton will do just fine. </topical pretense>
It's easy to overstate Einstein's contributions. Lorentz had done the mathematical heavy lifting almost 20 years before relativity. Einstein's contribution (SR) was to recognize lightspeed as invarient (lightspeed as varient was convention, not law). It was an incremental step, though an important one. Similarly, GR built on Minkowski's mathematical heavy lifting, and Einstein's contribution was to recognize the (mathematical) equivalence of gravity to acceleration. The point is that they were all (brilliant, but) incremental advances. Newton was not wrong. His laws were simply incomplete... in extrema, Einstein added terms. He never took away.

It's true that the "box" of physical law is yet incomplete. It's also true that we may never fully understand the box (though the uncertainty principle has nothing to do with that). What's wrong is to think that someday there will be a breakthrough that will throw out old law, and replace it with new. That simply never happens. Old law can be added to, in regimes that were previously not understood, but it is never discarded, or proven wrong.

Convention, on the other hand...

The thread is about new ways to make water. I suppose a brief discussion of the character of physical law isn't too far off topic.
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Old 14-02-2010, 09:47   #90
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Hummingway said: "Sir Isaac Newton was brilliant and formulated very useful rules but he was wrong."

Yes and no! In science things are often neither right nor wrong and Newton is a good example. His theories were good enough that they defined engineering and motion for over 200 years. The basics of calculating orbital trajectories are still done only using Newton's laws.

In short - Newton's Laws are still in use.

A nautical example.....

Sailors use maps and some of those maps user Mercator's projection. Mercator's assumes that the Earth is flat, but the Earth is a sphere whose curvature drops off at 8 inches per tangential mile. Over a distance of tens of miles, a "flat earth" is good enough. Is Mercator wrong? On the big scale - yes. On a local scale - no.

Out of curiousity I started building a parabolic reflector using the parabola equation y = sqrt(4ax) and then pointed it at the rather weak sunshine here in a UK winter and I got a noticeable warming just playing it on my hand.

In a few months when the sun is higher I will build a better reflector and try it. For drinking purposes we only need a few litres per day
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