Tag: mdash (page 4 of 22)

Here’s Why Tesla’s Battery Is A Big Deal

Excerpt from forbes.com

It’s more about where the market and product are going than where they are today. Think about a complementary system of components:

  1. The big grid – always on, highly reliable power which is expensive during peak demand hours, i.e. when a family actually wants to use the power. But usually the electricity is cheap at night when no one wants to use it and those big baseload plants that are hard (or very hard in the case of nuclear) to slow down are still pumping out power. And sometimes that power is provided by strong night winds.
  2. Home solar – Don’t forget that Tesla’s CEO, Musk, is also Chairman of SolarCity which provides zero down leasing. Home solar is often poorly aligned to peak usage, with installers looking for maximum generation with south-facing solar panels rather than maximum generation during peak with south-west facing panels. Then there are the homes with roofs that are poorly aligned to the sun regardless, so imperfect generation is all that is possible. And that peak generation isn’t necessarily perfectly aligned with peak cost of grid electricity either, but merely overlaps with it.
  3. Home storage – Maximum generation alignment of home solar matters less when you can carry forward the unconsumed electricity from solar panels to your evening of cooking, washing dishes, washing clothes, and streaming Netflix on your 40″ tv. And cheap electricity you can store at night and consume when electricity is really expensive is valuable as well.
So these components exist, but to be fair, they existed before Tesla got into the home storage business and have for a long time. And Tesla’s offering costs about twice as much as more typical lead-acid batteries commonly used for the purpose. So why is this particular home storage battery getting so much attention?
  1. Hype – Don’t underestimate the marvel that is Musk’s ability to get attention. The man is a rock star of event unveiling.
  2. Net metering – Right now, there is a lot of conflict between utilities and home solar users and installation companies. Net metering is the requirement that home solar generators get paid for electricity that they produce and pump into the grid, and only pay for the electricity that they draw from the grid. Output vs input is the net. Home solar used to be an advantage to utilities — reduced peak demand — but has become a liability — reduced or even negative revenue from users of the grid. Basically, utilities still have to pay for the grid which home solar generators use, then they lose revenue or outright pay the home solar generator who is getting use of the grid for free. Since utilities pay for the grid out of electricity revenue, they are starting to demand that people with home solar who aren’t paying much for electricity start paying for grid usage to make up for it. This is getting mixed reviews, as you can understand, but in the USA especially is leading to a desire by many to be completely grid free, a dubious value proposition. Tesla’s hype fell into an emerging market opportunity of people who had solar on their roof, didn’t have batteries but are worried that they’ll be forced to pay more.
  3. Time-of-use billing – Combined with smart meters, time-of-use billing is becoming much more common in utilities in the developed world. This model is simple: reduce demand during peak periods by increasing the price, typically combined with incenting shift of demand to off-peak times by lowering the price. Flattening demand curves, especially peaks, is very advantageous for grid managers because they have to have capacity for the peak. This enables storage to time-shift consumption and save at least some money.
  4. Design – Previous storage units are collections of lead acid batteries, basically the same thing you have in your car, but scaled vertically and horizontally. They aren’t pretty, they are heavy, they take up floor space, they require maintenance, and they are pretty much a toxic addition to homes if breached or even if the tops are removed. Tesla’s model is sleek, hangs on a wall and is much more chemically inert with no liquids. It’s a benign home appliance as opposed to an industrial object (much as some people like the industrial aesthetic at home, it’s less common).
  5. The Gigafactory – What Tesla has going for it is that it is building the world’s largest battery factory, and likely expanding it now that the storage line has taken off so brilliantly. Pretty much everyone paying attention knows that Tesla is already producing batteries much more cheaply on a per KWH capacity at greater volume, and the Gigafactory is going to ramp that up. Battery storage has been dropping in price per KWH of capacity for a long time, but it’s closing in on a cusp point where it’s going to be worth it for average consumers to store at least some electricity.
What all of this adds up to is that home battery storage isn’t economical today, but it’s viable for a subset of the high-consuming market, it’s desirable for its green credentials, it’s desirable due to the hype factor and it will defray its costs. And that the home storage market tomorrow will be viable for a much larger percentage of the market with increasing systemic pressures and pricing that will make it more attractive. Tesla’s home storage battery is getting attention because they are staking a major claim to a market which is expected to increase dramatically.
Why is Tesla’s battery a big deal?: originally appeared on Quora:

Answer by Mike Barnard, Energy guy, on Quora

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Rare Quartet of Quasars Found in the Early Universe

This image shows a rare view of four quasars, indicated by white arrows, found together by astronomers using the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. The bright galactic nuclei are embedded in a giant nebula of cool, dense gas visible in the image as a blue haze. Hennawi & Arrigoni-Battaia, MPIA

Excerpt from smithsonian.com

The odds of success would make a Vegas bookie sit up and take notice. But in a one-in-10 million chance, astronomers surveying the sky have found a group of four tightly packed quasars in one of the most distant parts of the universe. The rare grouping may be a nascent galaxy cluster, and its unusually cold cradle of gas could prompt a re-think of how we model the early universe.

Quasars are among the brightest objects known—according to NASA, each one gives off more energy than 100 mature galaxies combined. But quasars are found only in the far reaches of the universe and can't be seen with the naked eye. Because of the time it takes light to travel that far, detecting such distant objects is akin to seeing back in time, so astronomers think quasars are the seeds of young galaxies, powered by gases falling into the supermassive black holes at their cores. As matter falls inward and gets close to the speed of light, it emits radiation that we can pick up with telescopes.

The quasar phase doesn't last long, only about a thousandth of a galaxy's lifetime. After that, the brightness dies down as the inflow of matter slows, says study leader Joseph Hennawi, an astrophysicist at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. Seeing any two quasars close together while they are still bright is a chancy business, so his team wasn't sure what they'd find when they set out to survey quasars using the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. To their surprise, they quickly pinpointed four of them in close proximity, cosmically speaking. The quartet is huddled up in an area of sky less than 600,000 light-years across that sits about 10 billion light-years from Earth.

"The authors found it by investigating the environment of just 29 bright quasars," says Michele Trenti, a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne's School of Physics. "So at face value it seems like winning the lottery with a handful of tickets."
That's not all that was strange about this quasar quartet. The foursome was found inside a cloud of cold, dark gas, and the team's observations suggest that similar clouds surround about 10 percent of the tens of thousands of known quasars. That's odd, because according to current theories, quasars in groups like this should be surrounded by hot plasma, or ionized gas, at a temperature of about 10 million degrees.

“What this means is that there is some physical process that the models aren’t capturing,” says Hennawi, whose team reports the discovery this week in Science.

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12 Signs Your Dog Is Basically Your Furry Child


1. Snack time is no longer a solo activity ...

2. ... And you always have a little reminder of when it's dinner time.

3. You always have a bed buddy — whether there's room for one or not.

4. The word "messy" is now taken to a whole new level in your household.

5. You have more pictures of your pup than you do of people.

6. Your house is full of toys that do not belong to you.

7. You never need to set an alarm — you'll definitely be woken up in the mornings.

8. You no longer have sole ownership of your possessions ...

9. ... Or your food.

10. You take more pride in their accomplishments than you do your own.

11. You'd do anything to keep them from getting scared.

12. And the most telling sign? Your pup is always the most surefire way to brighten your day.

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New Horizons Spacecraft Captures Image of Pluto & Tiny Moons

An artist's concept shows the moon view of the Pluto system.

Excerpt from cbc.ca

NASA's Pluto-bound spacecraft can now see the dwarf planet's two tiniest known moons — both less than 30 kilometres wide.
Kerberos (which is 10 to 30 kilometres wide) and Styx (which is seven to 21 kilometres) are seen circling Pluto, along with the slightly larger moons Hydra and Nix, in an animated series of "family photos" captured by the New Horizons spacecraft between April 25 and May 1, and released by NASA Tuesday.

Pluto and its four smallest moons can all be seen in this "family photo" captured by the New Horizons spacecraft on April 27.

space animated GIF

"New Horizons is now on the threshold of discovery," said mission science team member John Spencer, from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., in a statement. "If the spacecraft observes any additional moons as we get closer to Pluto, they will be worlds that no one has seen before."

New Horizons is scheduled to make a close flyby of Pluto and its moons on July 14.

At the time the images were taken, the spacecraft was 89 million kilometres away. The glare from Pluto and its largest moon Charon, along with the light of background stars, were damped out using image processing.

Kerberos and Styx were discovered using the Hubble telescope in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

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Archaeologists Believe they have Found the Ruins of a Legendary Monastery

Excerpt from icelandreview.com

It is believed the remains of the much-searched-for Þykkvabær cloister may have been found. Icelandic and British archaeologists saw the remains of a very large building yesterday, using ultrasound techniques, at Álftaver in South Iceland.

The discovery came as a complete surprise, as it was not thought the remains of the cloister were in that area.

“I think we’ve just hit the jackpot, because I think we’ve discovered the remains of Þykkvabæjarklaustur. It came as a complete surprise, you can say that much. The remains are not on the site it was assumed the cloisters stood,” archaeology professor Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir told Stöð 2 television.

Þykkvabæjarklaustur, east of Mýrdalur, was a monastery of Augustine monks and its location has been lost to archaeologists until now. This week, ten Icelandic and British archaeologists have been searching for the remains with high tech instruments. The remains of an unusually big building were discovered under the ground yesterday, measuring around 40 x 45 meters.

“It is very big compared to the buildings of the time – as it is from the Middle Ages – and the footprint is around 1,500 square meters,” Steinunn says.

The cloister was in use from 1168 until 1550. Until recently it was assumed that Þykkvabæjarklaustur must have stood near the present-day Þykkvabæjarkirkja church, but searches revealed nothing; and this leads Steinunn to strongly believe yesterday’s find to be the lost cloisters. It is still possible, however, the remains are of a cow shed—but in that case it would be the cloister’s own cow shed and still therefore relevant.

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Circus Lion Freed From Cage Feels Earth Beneath His Paws For The First Time ~ Heartwrenching Video!


Excerpt from thedodo.com
By Stephen Messenger

Footage shared this week by the Rancho dos Gnomos Santuário in Brazil shows the thrilling moment a lion named Will experiences, for the first time, the feeling of soil and grass beneath his feet.

Prior to being rescued and taken to the sanctuary, Will had been forced to perform with a traveling circus. For 13 long years, the lion had been confined to a cramped cage and denied any semblance of a normal existence. 

Within seconds of his release, Will can be seen eagerly running his paws through the soft soil — tragically, a foreign material for a creature who, up until then, had known only cold metal floors. 

Will's reaction to the grass that covers his sprawling new home is equally ecstatic. Despite his age, advanced for his species, the lion rolls around like a happy cub discovering life's simple pleasures. 

But perhaps the most touching part of Will's transition into his new sanctuary can be seen in this moment of repose, as if most impressed not by the feeling of dirt or grass, but by a newfound sense of peace. 

This scene, filmed in 2006 though released this week to the public, was only the beginning. In 2011, Will passed away of old age, but not before finally learning what it meant to be a lion. 

"He had five years of tranquility before he died. Here he had the opportunity to interact with other lions. He loved to lie in grass and look at the sky," sanctuary founder Marcos Pompeo told The Dodo. "He was a very happy lion."

Watch the video of Will's release in its entirety below:

  Click to zoom

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Astrophysicists Can Now Make Weather Forecasts For Distant Planets

Exoplanet day/night cycle
Cloudy mornings and scorching hot afternoons: the Kepler space telescope has provided weather forecasts for some distant exoplanets.

Excerpt from techtimes.com

A telescope observing distant planets has found evidence of weather patterns, allowing astrophysicists to "forecast" their conditions.

Analyzing data from NASA's Kepler space telescope, a team of astrophysicists at universities in Canada and Great Britain has identified signs of daily weather variations on six exoplanets.
They observed phase variations as different parts of the planets reflected light from their host stars, in much the same way that our moon cycles though different phases.

"We determined the weather on these alien worlds by measuring changes as the planets circle their host stars, and identifying the day-night cycle," said Lisa Esteves from the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto.

"We traced each of them going through a cycle of phases in which different portions of the planet are illuminated by its star, from fully lit to completely dark," added Esteves, who the led the team on the study.

The scientists have offered up "forecasts" of cloudy mornings for four of the planets, and clear but scorching hot afternoons on two others.

They based their predictions on the planets' rotations, which produce an eastward motion of their atmospheric winds. That would blow clouds that formed over the cooler side of one of the planets around to its morning side — thus producing the "cloudy" morning forecast.

"As the winds continue to transport the clouds to the day side, they heat up and dissipate, leaving the afternoon sky cloud-free," said Esteves. "These winds also push the hot air eastward from the meridian, where it is the middle of the day, resulting in higher temperatures in the afternoon."

The Kepler telescope has proven to be the ideal instrument for studying phase variations on distant exoplanets, according to the researchers.

The massive amounts of data and the extremely precise measurements that the telescope is capable of permits them to detect even tiny, subtle signals coming from the distant world, and to separate them from the almost overwhelming light coming from their host stars.

"The detection of light from these planets hundreds to thousands of light years away is on its own remarkable," said co-author Ernst de Mooij from the Astrophysics Research Centre from the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen's University, Belfast.
"But when we consider that phase cycle variations can be up to 100,000 times fainter than the host star, these detections become truly astonishing."

There may come a day when a weather report for a distant planet is a common and unremarkable event, the researchers added.
"Someday soon we hope to be talking about weather reports for alien worlds not much bigger than Earth, and to be making comparisons with our home planet," said Ray Jayawardhana of York University in England.

This study was published in The Astrophysical Journal.

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