Archive for March, 2011

criticality

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

The discussion about an eventual criticality accident in Fukushima which started in the comment section of the blog post about the Fukushima plant continued partially on Azimuth within this comment.

Last weekend there was a demonstration against nuclear power generation in Berlin, which had about 70.000 participants.
Images of the demonstration after the click.

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New economic schemes in games

Friday, March 25th, 2011

In the blogpost on the return of investments I proposed to use games for testing new economical scenarious. I currently try to make an article out of that.
In the draft I sofar have given an overview about games and roughly motivated why I think that it may be a good idea to introduce new economical schemes. In particular I talk about the limitations of this planet, design and in particular about something that I dubbed “recycling-run-away effect”.

Amongst others I also try to line out why I think that the nuclear waste problem may be a worse problem than the safety of reactors (see also the first post on Fukushima).

Comments are appreciated, here is the draft:

update (06072011) : This blog post is now used as a referrer URL for the game scheme article, thus newer versions of the article and comments will be uploaded more or less regularily. Please note that this offer to our randform readers costs our private money. Since randform is currently purely financed by Tim Hoffmanns income as a math professor, we may eventually be forced to reduce or close this offer, depending on download rate, inflation, etc. Most of the content of the article is also spread on the Azimuth project like the section about the Game environment. The Azimuth updates are usually more current.

->version July 06, 2011

The most essential content article of the article was presented on July 1st at the open knowledge conference 2011 in Berlin:

Talk: “Testing new toy economies/political structures in MMOGs” at slideshare.net

older versions of the article:

->version May 25, 2011

->version april 26, 2011

-> New economical schemes in games, version march 25, 2011

Laptop damage

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

As of now my Laptop seems to have again a Major damage.
—blogging will Be Even more retarded

update same day evening: Luckily it seems that the laptop
had only a bad software bug and the friendly people at the Apple store could repair
this within an hour. Please press thumbs that the hardware is/stays uneffected.

about the Fukushima plant

Friday, March 18th, 2011

The german Gesellschaft für Anlagen- und Reaktorsicherheit (GRS) (which is owned by the state of Germany to about one half ) has regularily updated information (in english) about the Fukushima plant and other plants at trouble at:
http://www.grs.de/en/news/information-updates-japanese-nuclear-power-plants

A german version is at
http://www.grs.de/informationen-zur-lage-den-japanischen-kernkraftwerken-fukushima-onagawa-und-tokai

The report is by order of the german ministry for the environment.

The japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology has a japanese website on the Readings at Monitoring Post out of 20 Km Zone of Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP at:
http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/saigaijohou/syousai/1303726.htm

and of Readings of environmental radioactivity level by prefecture at:
http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/saigaijohou/syousai/1303723.htm

A partial translation of the pdf’s is possible via google translate
update 19.3.2011: there are now also english pdf’s of the measurements

update 20.3.2011: The above mentioned grs has also a website about the potential dangers of radiation however the old one, which is still in the Google cache was currently a bit more informative. There they say as a “rule of thumb” that

Als Faustregel gilt, dass die Aufnahme von etwa 80 000 Bq Cs-137 bei Erwachsenen einer Strahlenexposition von etwa 1 mSv entspricht.

translation without guarantee: 80 000 Bq of Cs-137 for an adult equates to about 1 mSv.

further translations:
The limit of import into Germany for caesium is 600 Bq/kg. For milk, milkproducts and kids nutrition is 370 Bq/kg. For the beginning of May 1986 (shortly after Chernobyl) the Commission for radiation safety recommended to eat and drink only milk with less than 500 Bq/l of Iodine 131 and green vegetables with less then 250 Bq/kg of Iodine 131 .

Fukushima, calculations and comments

Monday, March 14th, 2011

On sunday the 7 th fleet reported:

The U.S. 7th Fleet has temporarily repositioned its ships and aircraft away from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant after detecting low level contamination in the air and on its aircraft operating in the area.

The source of this airborne radioactivity is a radioactive plume released from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant. For perspective, the maximum potential radiation dose received by any ship’s force personnel aboard the ship when it passed through the area was less than the radiation exposure received from about one month of exposure to natural background radiation from sources such as rocks, soil, and the sun.

The ship was operating at sea about 100 miles northeast of the power plant at the time.

24*30 = 720

So this means the boat received a 720 fold radiation at a distance of about 160 kms of the troubled Fukushima nuclear plant from what’s supposed to be normal.

Even if one assumes that the density of such a plume disperses quadratically one would have 720*(160^2/270^2) = approx. 250 times higher dose then normal, or in other words in one hour one would perceive about a third of a months radiation dose above normal being in such a plume at a distance of 270 kms (which is the approximate distance between Fukushima and Tokyo). Luckily the ship could get out fast of the hazardous zone.

Unfortunately the possibilities to alter weather are very small. In fact there were experiments in Abu Dhabi and it seems China is also doing a lot of research in that direction, seen critical by some others. The latest research item in cloud seeding seems to have been laser shots into the air over the sky of Berlin (see also this article ).

The information about what’s really going on at the plant is fuzzy. It is understandable that some people would like to avoid a panic and thus would not make all information available to a broad uninformed public, who might draw false conclusions. But some people would like to appease people by making unscientific claims about certain likelyhoods (while at the same time claiming that nothing can be measured!). But one should think about how such an approach may impair credibility…this holds especially true for some certain news agencies, who’s reports are less based on facts but on biased commentaries disguised as “facts”.

So here a bit of information taken together:
An interactive map from the New York times of the Fukushima plant with a BWR design which (if I understood correctly) is by General Electric. An illustration by Hitachi of the concrete Fukushima plant seems to be in this pdf. The design looks a bit differently than the General electrics one…
A rather matter of fact and informative blog post about what happened at Fukushima by what seems to be a pro-nuclear writer (at least he cites pro-nuclear sources). What one got to hear sofar is that the reactor vessels and the containment of the troubled plants are still intact.

Our thoughts are with the japanese people and their grief.

Moreover we hope that the brave workers at the Fukushima power plants will succeed with their plans to avoid the worst. We hope that it will be possible to supply more and better equipment (see e.g. Kyodo news about the 5 fire pumps) to the dangerous Fukushima area and that with international help the results of the earthquake, Tsunami and nuclear disaster can be mitigated and that the worst possible nuclear scenarios won’t happen at Fukushima.

update 16.3.2011: I forgot to include a link to the

->overview on nuclear energy on randform

In this overview I actually saw the probability of a terrible accident with currently exisiting reactors as rather small. So in this overview I focused on problems with future types of nuclear energy generation (which include even more dangerous nuclear technology) and with the waste problem. I am asking myself now if I should give nuclear energy even more critical scrutiny.

milk powder transport and consumption

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Some internet-surf results:

According to Wikipedia one needs approximately 6 to 7 litres milk for 1 kg milkpowder.

Assuming a consumption of half a liter of milk per human, this gives a consumption of 182 kg milk per year, which can be substituted by a consumption of approx. 30.4 kg milk powder per human per year.

According to Wikipedia (unfortunately without source) the milk powder production in Europe is 800.000 tons (per year?). A similar amount is produced in the US according to the website of the US Dairy Export Council:

Approximately 10% of the world’s milk powder production — over 800,000 metric tons — is manufactured at more than 80 plants in the United States, making the United States one of the largest milk powder producers in the world.

800.000 tons divided by 30.4 is roughly 26 million.

So if this computation is right then the annual US milk powder production would suffice for roughly 26 million people.

I couldn’t find good numbers on the soy milk production, there seem to have been some increased production in China concluding from the financial times.

Japanese people have in comparision to other asian people a rather good milk tolerance according to Gastroenterol Jpn. 1975;10(1):29-34.
Studies on the etiology of milk intolerance in Japanese adults, by Yoshida Y, Sasaki G, Goto S, Yanagiya S, Takashina K.

Eventually the US quality powder may be better then the European .

According to this german website a typical container ship takes about a month to the Far East and carries about 128.000 tons. Looking at the map it seems that a ship from the US to the Far east takes about half a month.

According to this website a cargo plane carries about 128 tons.

This post is not adressed to food speculators.

A proposal for a pre-preprint archive

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

our little postbox in munich two years ago

The last days there had been a big public discussion in Germany about scientific publishing. The reason for that discussion was that the former german minister for defense Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg had included texts into his Ph. D. thesis, which were not by himself, but which were on the other hand not appropriately marked as a citation. The number of these plagiarized texts in his dissertation was so big that this “secretely pasting in” of texts by other authors had to be called systematic. As of march first, 2011 the site GuttenPlag had found plagiarized texts on 324 of 393 pages of his dissertation. After a longer process which included strong protests especially from the academic community, which included the revocation of his degree and a declaration of his doctoral advisor Peter Häberle Mr. Guttenberg finally resigned from his post as a minister for defense. Among others the declaration of his doctoral advisor Peter Häberle contained the sentence:

Die in der Promotionsschrift von Herrn zu Guttenberg entdeckten, mir unvorstellbaren Mängel sind schwerwiegend und nicht akzeptabel.

(translation without guarantee: The – to me unexplicable – found shortcomings in Mr. zu Guttenbergs dissertation are severe and not acceptable.)

The investigations into this case haven’t been finished, in particular the University of Bayreuth (which was in charge for the thesis) seems still to be investigating and e.g. checking wether the plagiarism was intentional fraud. There seems also to be the possibility of juridicial consequences (see e.g. here and here.)

In short the damage that had been done with this affair is quite big and thus a sensible question is “how could that happen and how could one prevent further cases like this?”

I hope that the future will bring more clearness into the case and will give an answer to the first question. Whatever the result will be it is already clear by now, that something went utterly wrong in how the dissertation was made and in how it was supervised.

In the randform post Alexandre Grothendieck writes a letter I had promised to speak about the proposal of a “closed pre-preprint section for the arxive for timestamping works” i.e. a kind of “safe” for work in progress. I think that such a section in an open access preprint archive could in particular be useful in the supervision process of a doctoral thesis and thus eventually help preventing similar cases as the above. It would also have other benefits. Let’s explain this.

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