Category Archives: alt energy

Coming Soon: A Post-Carbon Economy

Need some ammunition for your arguments about how to get from our fossil fuel economy to the post-carbon economy? A knock-your-socks-off interview with the New York Time’s Thomas Friedman on our current predicament and the role of government in developing a new Energy Technology economy. Will the American government create a financially viable climate for the development of alternatives to fossil fuels or will they wait for…something? Will the Chinese set out on a new course before them?

Video archived interview here

It’s an hour long and draws on his most recent book Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America. A lucid and energetic look at the energy situation without the austerity and disaster forecast that tends to come with it!

To order the book go here if in Canada, here if in Britain, and here if in the US and many other countries.

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Can Exercise and Watching TV be Combined? Exercise and Computers?

Yes. It can be done….and I don’t mean exercise bikes!

This way: No exercise = no power = no TV.

Here is a link to the specs for the bike-powered TV. It even includes videos! The guy who made the site is in his early fifties so you do not have to be an Olympic athlete to do it. This is such an obviously cool invention that screen-centric kids will find it intriguing to build and maybe even use it. Be the first in your neighbourhood. Say goodbye to childhood obesity! Say farewell to scheduling workouts into your day!

bike

Science and Math teachers looking for environmental science projects will find a detailed lesson plan on that site just for you. See the link at the bottom of this page: http://www.los-gatos.ca.us/davidbu/pedgen/power_learning.html

What about running my desktop on pedal power?

If you are thinking that your desktop monitor is a lot like a TV, you are right. You would probably have trouble reading and using the mouse while pedaling but you can pedal to store energy in ultracapacitors for later use in your home office. At least that way, seat-time can be ‘earned’ or (more positively put) you can give yourself a break from sitting all day. If you think there is a possibility that you could sneak this contraption into your office cubicle, it is worth experimenting with Butcher’s notes. See his photos of the ‘homeless home office’ here: http://www.los-gatos.ca.us/davidbu/pedgen/pppm_live.html

What about my laptop?

Yes, definitely doable because laptops require a lot less energy than desktops. If you are more interested in the taking your laptop off-the-grid idea than in the fitness thing, you may be interested in solar power cells for recharging your laptop battery. Be warned: Solar cells for laptops exist but they are not cheap (yet). See:

Sierra Solar Systems: http://www.sierrasolar.com/prod_store/LAP_laptop.html – US$250 and up

Gaiam: http://www.gaiam.com/retail/3/SL_BatterChargers_BattCharger – closer to US$170

Backup-Power.ca: http://www.backup-power.ca/laptop.html – factors to consider and links to products.

Low-tech air conditioning/cool tutorial for the mathphobes

Though we are sliding into heating season, it is never too late to talk about air conditioners. If you want to avoid buying one for the two weeks that it is intolerably hot in the summer or you just like to experiment, here is another option. Make your own!

Better yet, use it as a project for the kids in your life to show how math and physics are great tools for creative people.

Homemade AC

Here’s the background on one Engineering student’s cool project, complete with specs:

http://www.eng.uwaterloo.ca/~gmilburn/ac/

Lifehacker’s take on the project has some very interesting comments:

http://lifehacker.com/software/diy/make-your-own-air-conditioner-181510.php