Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Buoy Parks Harvest Wave Energy

In this decade of energy conservation awareness, alternate forms of power generation are being invented and implemented at an ever-increasing rate. One of the proposed ideas for supplying large amounts of power to metropolitan areas is to use buoy parks to generate wave energy. These buoy parks, which are currently being considered for various offshore areas around the world, could supply enough energy to power thousands of homes each. Some estimates claim that wave power could meet the energy needs of the entire world using less than one percent of the available ocean resources. In fact, buoy parks would be a great energy alternative for areas that do not have access to an electrical grid.
A typical buoy park might hold around 200 large buoys, and cover roughly two square miles of the ocean surface. The average buoy would extend about 15 feet above the water, and each buoy could provide power to ten or twenty homes. An alternate type of buoy would be moored to the ocean floor, perhaps 30 to 40 feet below the surface or even deeper. Of all of the potential sites for buoy parks in the world, the western United States coastline seems to offer the most powerful waves with the least obstacles or restrictions to proposed buoy parks. Specifically, Oregon offers a desirable combination of powerful waves, accessible ocean floors, and a community that seems to embrace GREEN energy ideas.
Buoy parks are being developed in different ways around the world. Researchers at Oregon State University are working on a buoy that uses copper wire and magnets to produce electricity. The magnets would use the ocean current and waves to move through the coil, which would generate about 250 kilowatts of electricity per buoy. The developers say that the buoys would be contact-free, in other words, no parts would come in contact with other buoy parts. This should provide a sustainable, constant source of power without the corrosion that one might expect from a dynamic object that resides in the ocean.
At other locations, hydraulic buoys are being developed which will harness wave energy at less-than-optimal locations. For instance, the Florida Gulf Stream current flows at nearly ten billion gallons per second. But, the location is not quite hospitable to buoy parks due to its heavy traffic and inaccessible ocean floors. So any proposed buoy parks would have to be closer to land, where the ocean current is not quite as forceful. The use of the hydraulic buoys will help generate energy even at locations that do not produce great wave power compared to the Oregon coast.
If buoy parks could provide all of the needed energy for the Earth, then why are they not being used in full force yet? Well, the technology is just in the first stages of development. In fact, a recent setback occurred when a $2 million test buoy sank to the ocean floor just off the Oregon coast. The buoy parks also pose a potential hazard to commercial ocean traffic and fishing vessels. In fact, some are worried that the entire fishing industry at some locations would suffer greatly because the buoy parks would use the same waters as those most desired by fishermen. The environmental effects of placing so many buoys in a small area cannot be accurately determined at this point in time without further study.
Despite the drawbacks, buoy parks are getting much support as energy costs continue to rise. While still more expensive, then say, coal, the primary source of wave energy (the ocean current) is absolutely free. So, the entire monetary cost lies in the research and development, and in the materials used. Private firms worldwide are joining with the educational institutions and government agencies, as they see a great opportunity to not only make money, but also to establish a reputation for being GREEN.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Direct TV News About New Technology

Despite all of the hype surrounding HDTV and all of the technology surrounding it, there is still evidence that the consumer electronics industry isn't doing enough to educate consumers about what exactly the technology is and what is required to set it up in private homes.
Apparently there is still widespread confusion about the details of High Definition Television and the fact that consumers are confused means that they're poorly equipped to make good decisions when it comes time to purchase these devices that they've heard so much about, but about which they know so little.
The biggest and most common misconception is that HDTV is a type of TV set with a flat panel design and a 16:9 screen that improves the home entertainment experience by merit of its pure size, the fact that it can be hung on a wall, and the fact that the screen is proportioned so that it can display movies and all of the TV programming which is increasingly shot in wide screen format.
There are so many errors in perception rolled up in the above scenario that it's difficult to know where to begin unraveling them all. First of all, there is a lot more to HDTV than just an HDTV set. HDTV is a TV format and an HDTV set is the instrument needed to display it. The fact that HDTV sets can display normal TV too is a bonus. Second, while a large screen is nice, there are a lot of HDTV sets that have smaller screens that deliver excellent pictures and may be a better choice for anyone who is going to watch a lot of normal TV programming on it. (The fact that normal TV doesn't deliver very high resolutions becomes very apparent when watching it on a larger HDTV set.) Third, flat panel displays (the type of TV screen that can be hung on a wall) may be trendy, but they're only one type equipment that can display HDTV. There are also projection screen TVs and HDTV projectors, either of which may be a better choice depending on the room your home theater will be installed in and your budget.
The most stifling misunderstanding of all, and one that was touched on earlier, is that anything that is displayed on an HDTV set automatically becomes HDTV. This misconception has led to numerous people getting an new HDTV set home and then finding that they're dissatisfied with the picture that it produces because they're displaying normal TV on it. Depending on the size of the HDTV screen and whether or not it has built in upconversion technology, normal TV programming might look even worse on an HDTV display than it does on an old fashioned TV set. A normal TV signal has 480 lines of resolution, so when it's displayed on an HDTV set that is capable of displaying up to 1080 lines of resolution, it can end up looking pretty grainy. There just isn't enough data in the normal TV signal for the HDTV set to work with. This results in the owner of the new set deciding that it must be defective and taking it back to the store.
All of this could be avoided by some educational efforts on the part of both retailers and consumers.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Education Problems and the Internet

The internet can be a wonderful educational tool for our students, but it also presents a whole host of threats and problems that must be taken into consideration.
Today's youngsters are quick to assimilate the skills needed to become proficient on the internet, but they lack the experience to always know when to be on guard against sexual predators, or others who would take advantage of their openness. Of course another problem with unsupervised access to the internet can result in students who don't do assignments, or who don't get enough sleep to function effectively in school.
But there is help and hope on the horizon.
MySpace, the largest social networking web site, has concluded an agreement with the Attorney Generals of every state but Texas, to take steps that may protect children and teens who frequent the site. In the wake of the widely-publicized news about a young teen's suicide over abuse of the site, MySpace has agreed to tighten controls and to actively take steps to protect children from predators.
Back in October 2007, Facebook started the ball rolling when it completed a voluntary agreement with New York's Attorney General to accept responsibility for protecting users. The MySpace agreement goes further and is more detailed than the Facebook agreement. Whereas Facebook promised to respond more speedily to complaints about sexual messages and to use stronger language to warn it's users about potential hazards, the MySpace agreement does all of that and more.
MySpace has agreed to form a task force, with input from online sites and child protection groups, to develop ways to verify ages and identities of it's users. The site will install safeguards to protect children from predators, including making every site of users under 18 "private". While several protective measures are, or will be, put in place, nothing is foolproof. The challenge to make the internet safe for children must be ongoing and parents need to monitor their child's use of the computer. There are no substitutes for caring and vigilant parental guidance.