Fukushima nuclear reactor cleanup suggestion

Cleaning the huge amount of radioactively contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear reactor site has been declared an urgent task. See "Water clear-up 'urgent' at reactor." The article mentions that someone suggested using ion-exchange resins to filter the water before discharging the water safely. However, that means disposing of those resin filters afterwards. The article also mentions instead using the water to make concrete and then store the concrete somewhere.

Here is a different approach:

I had pointed out an alternate means, in a comment I left at some news site several days ago. It apparently has not reached the right ears. So I will point it out here, since there seems to be no communication path from me to the folks who can responsibly deal with the problem.

Back in the early 1960's, during the major nuclear scare where people were being given plans for emergency fallout shelters, it was told us that to decontaminate suspect drinking water, one could put some clay soil into the water in a jug, stir it up well and let the clay particles settle out until the water was clear. Then the water would be free of most of the radioactive particles, having been snagged by the clay and taken to the bottom of the container.

It seems such a process could be done there in Fukushima. Even right where floors and tunnels are said to be covered with ankle-deep radioactive contaminated water, by putting in some clay soil and stirring it up well then letting it settle out for a day, then pump out the clarified water on top, then shovel out the clay mud with the trapped radioactive particles in it, to be sun-dried into bricks for stashing in some abandoned mine, perhaps a worked-out former uranium mine that originally had far more radioactive rock removed from it in the past. Or they could first pump out the water and do the clay mixing and settling out in an external tank, which would have the advantage of not making a big cleanup job inside the facilities from the clay in an otherwise very clean environment, but have the disadvantage of getting contaminated pumps and hoses needing disposal. Pumping out and external settling would probably have less exposure of workers to the radiation overall, however, but take significantly longer to setup and do; the same external tank could be repeatedly refilled with pumped contaminated water and more clay stirred in, thus processing a much larger volume of water overall, until it became too filled with clay sludge and then needing to be scooped out and made into the aforementioned sun-dried bricks.

This process seems to enable a much larger volume of water to be processed quickly, and far cheaper and environmentally-friendly than using ion-exchange resin filters or using the water to make concrete.

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Grousing more about value-added and welfare disdain

Value-added, or maybe better phrased, utility-added, needs to be the determiner of price-added. This would have prevented such things as the American burst of the housing bubble, and the broader example described in Newsweek's "A Looming Disaster: Europe"

But to do so would go against the accepted game of determining price as what the market will bear: the game so finely exampled in auctions.

Thus in the "housing bubble" people would buy up all the housing, then demand a much higher price than they paid for it, (without improving the properties) and so the next bunch of buyers had to pay the higher price, either to be in that game or to have a place to live. Eventually, like the old "pyramid game" people would stop buying into it, and the winners were the ones who did the game early and then got out of it with their freely gotten money with no value-added involved, and the losers were the ones who owned the vastly overpriced property when the "bubble burst."

It is a game of scarcity and of people's needs. And of hoarding to demand a higher price that the needy will have to somehow pay. It goes back to fabled soybeans. And beyond.

If price were directly linked to utility-added, that kind of value-added, the way economics would be conducted would change a lot. But establishing the increased value or utility is not as easy as establishing price according to what someone will pay for something.

Another theme in the above-mentioned article is that welfare expenses had dragged the nations down into ruin. It seems to me that there is an old saying that the people of a country are its greatest asset. People on welfare can be productive, if enabled to do so. But demanding private businesses to take on that task has not succeeded at all, due to the smaller part of the big picture that little businesses have to deal with, daily profit in their hand is all that counts, never mind the resulting decay of their country's capability to utilize the country's assets, especially human assets.

Thus it appears that a national government (the kind with the best interests of the nation as its guide, instead of just boosting wealth of a few rulers, or of a few wealthy conglomerates) needs to take the responsibility for figuring out how to get all those "welfare" folks (read: retired folks too) into the productivity pool, even if only a few cents a day at first. The focus on each person being useful to the whole nation each day, will bring attention on that aspect of life, and ought to produce a trend for greater value-added to the nation. Part of it, even if only the proverbial digging holes and filling them up again, is to increase skills and strength, and to see that their individual efforts are actually having an effect on the larger world, each person and each moment.

This is quite different from the attitude of those who have a wealth-producing company and their employees riding some wave of customer demand, disdaining all those folks who are not similarly being useful, and saying those "welfare recipients" are merely a drag on the economy and the implication is that all would be better if they did not exist. How different an attitude. And how different the long term results. Snobbery is quite different from helping the others on the ship to be helpful and productive too.

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Change of ownership of America

One type of organization is where a small ownership chooses management who then choose the working employees.

Another type of organization is where the working employees choose the management, and all are the ownership.

America is ostensibly the kind where the employees choose the management and all are the ownership.

Typical corporations are the other kind, where the ownership is but a few people, and they choose the management who choose the working employees.

As vastly wealthy corporations gradually take control of the country by whatever means, it means that America is changing from the type where the employee-workers choose the management and all are the ownership of the country, to the type where a few folks are the ownership and they choose the management who choose the employee-workers.

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Another article today pushes my buttons. I have attempted to post the following comment to the article "We accept instability and even war in the Middle East to maintain our (oil) addiction.",0,1363635.story

"No one listens to me but here is another try. Finding technological potential solutions is a hobby of mine; sitting in the gas lines in the early 1970's gave me time to dream up an immediate & near-future solution, the PullBand commute system and it took me until 1989 to find a potential solution to the overall energy problem, a new way to build the adequate solar power satellites economically in GEO for worldwide plentiful clean electricalenergy delivered: and or escalators.html Meanwhile the situation keeps unfolding as I said, and my solutions are still being suppressed by the bosses that be. Call me a crank: prove it. I've published technical articles referenced at the URLs above. Let's create solutions instead of grumping business-as-usual inertia. Solutions can be a lot of fun, actually."

So let's see if I can make a tiny bit of an impression. In case there is a hole in the blanket that apparently is cast over my blog here. And someone of intelligence and wisdom finds this item. In time to do some good. When things get really messy, it is very hard to get high tech comprehensive projects going.

First, the PullBand commute system: This is a personally owned and home garaged vehicle that gets its primary transportation energy from grabbing onto various circulating bands, which are powered by whatever energy source is available at the time and place: electrical motor, steam engine, whatever. The pull bands range in position and speed from ones around each block, to very high speed intercity ones that are fast enough to slide the vehicles on air bearing cushion tracks, potentially in the hundreds of mph along environment-isolated pathways. The idea has been stewing since ca. 1973 gas lines, and has been publicly described (by myself) since the 1980's, so it is up for grabs, patent-free. It has the potential for a highly time and energy efficient commute, vastly better than the automobile or even light rail and bus system, overall. But, it is different from what the folks in the transportation businesses are now prepared to do, same old same old, which just won't solve our increasingly desperate energy problems. So check out the PullBand Commute System concept, put details, nuts & bolts and technology to it, have fun with it and soon go for a ride on it.

Second, the biggie: bypassing the limitations of the conventional rocket launch technology and even that of the fabled Space Elevator anchored tether Earth-rotation-centrifugal transportation structure potentials, to finally economically build and maintain enough Solar Power Satellites in the Geostationary Earth Orbit (where your satellite dish is aimed at currently) to provide plentiful cheap very "clean" energy worldwide. It would build a transportation structure that electrically lifts materials and people from equatorial ground level up into GEO above the opposite side of teh planet. Shaped like an elliptical Orbital Transfer Trajectory between ground and geo around the Earth, it is essentially a synchronous electrical motor it tubular form, with low friction maglev bearing surfaces inside along which its armature mass circulates at sufficiently high velocity to generate outward centrifugal force against the inside of the tubing, to support the tubing and its live loads. Part of the upward-bound armature mass stream's kinetic energy is extracted by electromagnetic drag by vehicles riding the structure between ground and GEO, lifting the vehicles with their payloads of construction materials and workmen to space and back. Details and technical references at and or escalators.html I invite you to check out the merits of these concepts that speak for themselves. And this concept has been in the public view since ca. 1989 in basic functions, so they have passed by the limitations for implementation by the originator, me. I've no resources and live the impoverished life of one who is suppressed by the forces of social inertia and big business that wants to stay in control no matter what; does that really mean I have nothing worthwhile to say? Do you want to solve the energy problem or not? Sure, let's get some backups going, solar panels, wind turbines, tidal energy, geothermal, biofuels from algae. Do what can be done re coal fired powerplants. More nuclear powerplants while being aware that we are playing with fire by doing that; the more of them, the more difficult it will be to dismantle them; but we need them for now while we are sitting on our hands re the technique I have pointed out above.

This way for building a near-future solar-based electrical power system for worldwide use has the potential for halting the CO2 and methane buildup; it has the potential for building and utilizing solar powered mass element separation techniques up there in GEO too, with economical lift of the toxic trash materials and return of pure materials back here for building anew. Look at the concepts, folks, pay attention.

And to make it more fun to learn about, it is also written in high-tech science fiction adventure form for easy reading and in detail too. See reading about the concepts this way you can explore it without having to buck the existing business power structures for permission to do so. Several of these novels are also available as iBooks, and all are as paperbacks too. But you will have to dig for them online, the big money folks don't want people to learn about these options; insist on books only by the author "J. E. D. Cline" with titles of "Building Up", "The Ark of 1984's Future", "It's Down to Earth", and "The Torus City Ice Shields Returning Home." read and enjoy ... then wake up some morning realizing the actual potentials in it all.

We don't have to be like the lemmings in a mad run as a too-busy crowd heading for the final crunch when our current path collapses. Sure, it is easier. But in the long run, it would be far more fun to thrive, instead.

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On the ongoing subject of Patent Reform

The ongoing subject of Patent Reform has pushed my buttons a bit;
"White Board: Austan Goolsbee on Patent Reform"

The subject of the U. S. Patent system and far more generally, giving credit for the contributions of ideas and the development of physical means to explore application of those ideas, has been of interest to me. And decades ago I had read of calls for revision of the Patent system, although just how to do that were not described.

I recall back in the '60's when I had a couple ideas that I had suggested to my employer, who eventually wrote me a release for them, a friendly co-worker who had once worked as a patent lawyer, told me that a patent does not protect one's idea, it only gives one a right to sue those who use the idea after you have a patented granted on it. He said the only useful patents were for processes, and the patent also written to not include some key part of the idea so others could not really copy it from the patent data.

Plus even back then the cost of a patent was huge, many months of my salary. (My then-wife, who was very pragmatic and preserved only "#1," who I so desperately needed as my mate, always demanded my uncashed but signed paycheck, and in return I got $5 for lunches, and no other spending money ... she would not even allow me to buy a 4-function calculator while I was struggling to do my hobby project of calculating the materials stresses on my "Mooncable" anchored lunar tether to see if space-rated fiberglass would be adequate strength/weight ratio if designed with a constant-stress tapered cross-section, so I had months of hand calculation in my spare time and only had my slide rule as a help)

But later in the early 1980's when I worked for Shugart Corp, a division of Xerox, and had been promoted to have the Electronics Design/Development Engineer title (despite lack of a formal degree) I was in the loop to read the patent summaries that went around in the engineering department. Xerox and IBM had a mutual sharing of patents agreement, so the latest ones were listed there. I always really enjoyed reading those patent summaries, seemed to really brighten up my interest as a technically creative person by nature. Very stimulating reading. Those patents tended to be on electrical and mechanical things, which were both things I was long interested in and knew a lot about, so the patent summaries gave hints that instantly blossomed in my imagination for a few seconds, fun. So, I got a bit more acquainted with that subject.

And years before that, I had helped write the patent application wording that ultimately was granted, with the senior Electronics Engineer and I listed as the inventors, that eventually years later got granted. But I later heard that the company, Pertec Computer Corporation, only got the patent to prevent some rival company from seeing and patenting the idea and thus preventing Pertec ourselves from using it in our disk drives we developed and manufactured. (U S Patent 4,055,814 Abraham et al - I was the "et al" - "Phase Locked Loop for Synchronized VCO With Digital Data Pulses" - 1977.)

So, I have some awareness of the subject of patents.

I vaguely remember that back in the mid-1980's I had written up my ideas on how to possibly acknowledge all the idea inputs involved in making something new and useful. It went far beyond the original intent of the patent system. The patent system was originally created so as to give rights to the creator of some new product, often after years of tinkering on it, since there was a propensity for some other persons to just make money by copying the invention and selling it, cheaper because they had none of the costs of creating the idea and developing it into a manufacturable product, costs that would have had to be added to the product otherwise. Also the original patent was there with a time limit - 17 years I think - after which the patent would expire and everybody could then use its ideas; this encouraged inventors to disclose their processes in a patent, ensuring it was theirs for at least the 17 years, and to the larger system it meant that the ideas key to the invention would not be lost to civilization when the inventor passed away, as so often happened before then.

Yet as I pointed out above, a patent can be used to squelch the availability of an idea-based invention. This can be done by a company to prevent the use of a potentially rival technology, to keep it out of the competition; the patent would be gotten with no intent to actually make the products available to the customer base, but instead was gotten with the intent to prevent customers from utilizing those products, and thus would have to buy the company's established products. In 17 years the originator of the idea is likely to have perished from starvation or other neglect, so the advantages to such corporate stuff is likely to be permanent. There have been many stories floating around where this kind of thing was done, particularly in the automotive field, often said to have the motive of preventing fuel-saving mechanisms from being available to cars, so as to sell more of the highly profitable gasoline.

So, I think the subject of Patent Reform needs some heavy thinking and wisdom applied to it, far more than what is being now proposed by the Obama administration. But what they are dong is a good start, I think.

Perhaps I will re-think all the ideas I had for acknowledging all the idea input and craftsmanship involved in making an invention and producing it, and write them in this blog. I will let this urge stew while I go about my daily survival chores now.

Later - I need to point out that my purpose in this blog post is not so much as to point out rule changes needed in the patent system, but rather instead explore the need to find ways to encourage and support the idea-makers and creative crafts people that produce the innovations and inventions that are needed quite rapidly as civilization adjusts to its own expanding self, as humanity moves away from the animalistic hunter-gatherer predatory exploitative mode of life, and into the nurturing responsible mode.

Yet I realize that there is a tendency for some non-creative types of people to assume that inventions and their patents only come from the highly degreed (and highly paid) scientists & engineers who toil away in the bowels of some corporate lab, producing hugely complex and expensive prototype gizmos for the corporation to manufacture and make big profit for the investors; but exactly what the scientists and engineers focus on to invent for the corporation is only defined by the corporate managers, and the managers expect their defined patentable inventions to be produced as a result. Any other ideas the scientists and engineers might have are mere rubbish, wild cards, possibly disruptive jokers in the nicely laid out plans of the management staff, and are to be suppressed by every means. Management rules, period. Our system has painted itself into a corner, it seems to me.

Gone is the earlier notion that ideas for innovations and inventions come from the lone inventor who spontaneously comes up with ideas and then finds possible uses for them, preferably applied to some kind of endeavor he/she is interested in enabling happen. But that is the actual kind of thing I am attempting to encourage through reward of any and all who participate. This is what America needs to return to the fore in innovation. And yes, the corporate controlled scientists & engineers are also needed as part of that system too ... but just not being the top level of the system. The top level of innovation is the creative individual, whether a CEO or a janitor, an explorer of the nature of things, tinkerer with concepts and/or physical stuff with their hands, whose minds are busy integrating their lifetime of experiences to find matches of patterns produced in their mind, with patterns of needs and benefits that civilization would better thrive with as a result.

Most likely what is needed is to create a larger system to help promote and reword innovation of any and all types; the Patent System most likely would only be a subset of that system, dealing with only the aspect of protecting the efforts of those who toiled in mind and body to make some new innovative process or device that would help civilization, protecting them from those who would simply rob the invention and make it cheaper as a rival business to make money for themselves, not rewarding those who had produced the invention at all. Or, those business interests who would grab an invention's idea and patent it to prevent civilization from utilizing it, so as to maintain some pre-existing business products and services.

Exploring the mechanisms of how ideas come to be, seems a necessary step. Oftentimes we hear of ideas being produced in a generally similar time frame in far-apart areas of the world, too. Yet a patent is awarded to only one of them, excluding the others. How about a system that rewards all of those who independently came up with the same or similar ideas? Yet there are always copycats in the world; and indeed, our education system is based on copycatting the knowledge provided by others in the past eras; we tend to be thus conditioned to do that. And each innovation is built on other innovations, otherwise, to make a new Smartphone one would need to dig the raw materials out of the ground and figure out how to process the materials and put them together all the way up to the final assembly and test of the devices, all over again each time. So the ideas in innovation are actually a flow of ideas, being assembled this way and that in the mind or hand of the creative person, like clay that is squeezed in the fingers and the eye sees what it looks like as a result, and decides if that is interesting or not.

How to appropriately reward that kind of thing, regardless of when and where and who does it, seems to be the question.

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