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Reengineer the Van Allen Belts

 
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The third Van Allen belt discovered on the 28th of February 2013, just after lunchtime, is thought to be a sort of solar energy storage and routing mechanism.

I think we could redesign the Van Allen belts a little bit to allow harmless leeching of enough energy to alleviate any scarcity of energy forever. It could also be reengineered a tiny bit more to form a better particle accelerator route than CERN and similar.

But mainly, no more electricity bills, that’d be the thing.

Ian Tindale, May 13 2018

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       Energy per se is not really a problem, is it? If all we needed were energy, then we could continue to get it by exothermically oxidising fossil carbon. The tricky part is energy which will not bugger up the surface of the planet by over-heating it.   

       Now, if we start drawing energy from the Van Allen belts, for use near the surface of the Earth, won't that tend to make the over- heating problem worse?
pertinax, May 13 2018
  

       Maybe we could move all heavy industry out there, then.
Ian Tindale, May 13 2018
  

       Now, that makes some sense.
pertinax, May 13 2018
  

       The PAMELA detector reveals a significant aggregation of antimatter confined by the Van Allen belts while it was looking for Jovial electrons. There’s talk that such antiprotons could be used for spacecraft propulsion, but really, fuck that, I want to reduce my electricity bills to realistic levels, not astronomical quantities.
Ian Tindale, May 13 2018
  

       //The third Van Allen belt discovered on the 28th of February 2018// citation?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2018
  

       2nd para, Wikipedia page on this sort of thing, which in turn has a reference [3] to elsewhere.   

       Ah, 2013.
Ian Tindale, May 13 2018
  

       The Wikipedia article also references a company that has proposed removing the Van Allen belts, to eliminate the radiation hazard that they pose to spacecraft passing through them.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2018
  

       I keep reading this as: Reindeer on the Van Allen belts.
xenzag, May 13 2018
  

       // Jovial electrons //   

       They're so much better than the miserable ones .... "Ohhh ... my existence is so awful ... all I ever get to do is hop up and down between these two energy levels ... I never go anywhere ... I don't know if I'm a wave or a particle ... ohhh ... I had a go in a cyclotron once, but I put on SO much weight ..."   

       (Sp. Hint. "Jovian")
8th of 7, May 13 2018
  

       Why is there not an expensive brand of trouser-support devices called "Van Allen Belts"?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 13 2018
  

       //Now, if we start drawing energy from the Van Allen belts, for use near the surface of the Earth, won't that tend to make the over- heating problem worse ?//   

       Unlimited cheap energy worries me too. What happens when they get fusion electricity generation up and running ?
bigsleep, May 13 2018
  

       The purple wage.
wjt, May 14 2018
  

       // What happens when they get fusion electricity generation up and running ? //   

       The Eco-fascists wail and scream and run round in little circles trying to think up something else to moan about before their little pointed heads explode.
8th of 7, May 14 2018
  

       //Unlimited cheap energy worries me too.// If you mean in terms of heat generation, you don't need to worry. Human energy consumption is about 3 x 10^12W. Sunlight delivers about 10^17W.   

       So, assuming that all man-generated electricity ends up as heat, it would be equivalent to an increase in solar influx of about 0.001%, which is far, far less (a hundredfold less) than the fluctuation in the sun's output anyway.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 14 2018
  

       just watched the "Deserts" episode of Attenborough show. He kept saying that with climate change, deserts are expanding. Curious how that's consistent with water levels rising. Surely unless continental drift brings us back to Pangaia, water levels rising means more precipitation?
theircompetitor, May 14 2018
  

       //Why is there not an expensive brand of trouser-support devices called "Van Allen Belts"?// - because of the high risk of cheap astronomy-themed puns in the advertising copy for such a product. For example "Van Allen belts - keeping Uranus covered by yer trousers since 1891"
hippo, May 14 2018
  

       //water levels rising means more precipitation//   

       Yes but not in the right areas.   

       Max, care to demonstrate your math figures? 10^17 W is way way way too high. Even Cambridge spotted that one.   

       I calculate 83.6*10^12 Watts for the sun's output hitting the earth. 164 average Watts per day per square meter over the earth's surface * 510 billion square meters.
RayfordSteele, May 14 2018
  

       That sounds very low, even averaged.   

       Then again, only 50% of the planet is exposed at any given time.   

       // over the earth's surface //   

       Besides, it's not just radiation at the surface that matters; energy absorbed by the atmosphere also contributes.   

       So you need a figure for mean solar input to the troposphere for it to be meaningful.
8th of 7, May 14 2018
  

       10^17 Watts is about right -

a) The power output of the sun is 3.9x10^26 watts
b) The Earth is about 150x10^9 metres from the Sun
c) The area of a sphere with the radius of the Earth's distance from the sun is (4 x PI x R^2) = 2.8x10^23 m^2
d) The Earth's radius is 6371km
e) So the area of a disc with the radius of the Earth is (PI x R^2) = 1.3x10^14 m^2
f) So the fraction of the sun's output which falls on the Earth is (a) x ((e)/(c)) which is 1.7x10^17 Watts or 1379 Watts/m^2

1.7x10^17 Watts is how much power from the sun hits the Earth. The figure of 1379 Watts/m^2 is OK if the sun if directly overhead but will be less if the sun is at a low angle.
hippo, May 14 2018
  

       Uh, [Rayfo], the surface area of the Earth is 510 million square kilometers, which is 510 x 10^12 square metres. You've dropped a factor of 1000.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 14 2018
  

       // You've dropped a factor of 1000. //   

       So easily done ...
8th of 7, May 14 2018
  

       [Rayfo] Can I borrow £1?
hippo, May 15 2018
  

       //The figure of 1379 Watts/m^2 is OK if the sun if directly overhead but will be less if the sun is at a low angle.//   

       In the UK the average solar insolence is 1200 KWh/m2 i.e. 137 watts / m2. Given 20% efficiency of a solar cell (a good one), that power generation potential of only 27 watts.   

       So to a potential investor its £200 to keep a small light bulb on and a loss of 1m2 of roof or garden. UK solar is a con.   

       Fusion reactors however can be orders of magnitude more productive per metre squared and why we should be afraid.   

       We will of course reach a point where the fossil fuels have run out and manufacturing solar cells or fusion reactors is no longer sustainable and we'll have to stop recycling all stuff every few years.
bigsleep, May 15 2018
  

       [bigs], I think quitting smoking was a mistake.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 15 2018
  

       // fossil fuels have run out and manufacturing solar cells or fusion reactors is no longer sustainable //   

       May we point out that many of the objects further out from your primary are quite rich in hydrogen ? Further, lithium - a significant component of your planet's crust - is also fusible.   

       So, once you've mastered fusion, it's a simple task to engineer a ship with a deuteron ram to allow you to nip out to the gas giants and harvest deuterium in commercial quantities. Energy problem fixed; and the "effluent" is helium, so guilt-free party balloons all round. If not, just let it go and watch it rapidly bugger off out of your planet's gravity well.   

       You'll even have enough low-cost energy to extract CO2 from the atmosphere or oceans and convert it back into carbon, which you can bury in holes in the ground, apart from the portion you hydrogenate to octane. Won't that be nice ? Next, "Return of the Revenge of the Attack of the Killer Gas-Guzzlers from Detroit", and you can drive slowly past the serried ranks of weeping, hand-wringing tree-hugging eco-fascists with a spotless conscience (if any).
8th of 7, May 15 2018
  

       hippo, here is your 0.001. Don't spend it all in one place.   

       I swear there was a website that listed 510 billion square meters.
RayfordSteele, May 15 2018
  

       //the "effluent" is helium//   

       Please no. We can't do Stock, Aiken and Waterman again.   

       //You'll even have enough low-cost energy to extract CO2 from the atmosphere or oceans and convert it back into carbon//   

       Exactly. Before we know it, we'll be burying all sorts of things because its fun to reduce them. Meanwhile the energy radiating from the planets surface starts exceeding that received from the sun.   

       And then people in the UK buying solar cells are going to look pretty foolish.   

       <stern look, eats marmalade sandwich/>
bigsleep, May 15 2018
  

       // burying all sorts of things because its fun to reduce them //   

       <starts to compile list of things suitable for having electrons forced upon them/>   

       // the energy radiating from the planets surface starts exceeding that received from the sun //   

       Fret ye not; the process of regaining thermal equilibrium is relatively rapid, although perhaps not entirely painless.
8th of 7, May 15 2018
  

       //although perhaps not entirely painless//   

       I'm guessing 1 out of the 3 words are not involved -   

       Cat, Kelvin, Thousands.   

       Or maybe we could use heat pumps to re-radiate heat to a cat planet. Now I'm getting what the Sumerian atomic gold atmosphere protection was all about.
bigsleep, May 15 2018
  
      
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