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(Boing Boing)   The history of the US electric grid   (boingboing.net ) divider line
    More: Plug, hydroelectric dams, power lines, Appleton, Carnegie Mellon University, New America Foundation, electrical grid  
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3499 clicks; posted to Geek » on 21 May 2012 at 10:40 AM (4 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



21 Comments     (+0 »)
 
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2012-05-21 10:45:10 AM  
You know who else used to talk about Appleton?
 
2012-05-21 10:47:21 AM  
upload.wikimedia.org

Y U NO WIRELESS?
 
2012-05-21 10:48:27 AM  
Nice use of the PLUG tag.
 
2012-05-21 10:49:49 AM  

Cybernetic: Nice use of the PLUG tag.


Came here to say this.
 
2012-05-21 11:04:09 AM  

imontheinternet: [upload.wikimedia.org image 220x280]

Y U NO WIRELESS?


Because we like being able to communicate that way.

Plus, wireless transmission of power is wasteful.
 
2012-05-21 11:18:55 AM  
The entire history in 6 paragraphs and a link to a video. Nice.
 
2012-05-21 11:36:46 AM  

stuhayes2010: The entire history in 6 paragraphs and a link to a video. Nice.


Yeah, so a link that describes a link... Kind of hate subby right now.
 
2012-05-21 01:39:25 PM  

thecpt: stuhayes2010: The entire history in 6 paragraphs and a link to a video. Nice.

Yeah, so a link that describes a link... Kind of hate subby right now.


So that second mouse click was too much for you? I think they have a pill to help with that.

// not subby, enjoyed the link to the link I never would have seen otherwise.
 
2012-05-21 01:40:57 PM  
Maggie Koerth-Baker writes really interesting stuff over at Boing Boing. You can read her while skipping the ten daily posts about Disney by going to http://www.boingboing.net/author/maggie_koerth_baker.
 
2012-05-21 03:34:14 PM  

imontheinternet: Y U NO WIRELESS?


Because you can't charge for it.
 
2012-05-21 04:09:06 PM  

dittybopper: imontheinternet: [upload.wikimedia.org image 220x280]

Y U NO WIRELESS?

Because we like being able to communicate that way.

Plus, wireless transmission of power is wasteful.


I'm an ignoramus when it comes to these things, but I was under the impression that over-the-wire transmission is pretty wasteful too.

/willing to learn otherwise
 
2012-05-21 04:27:07 PM  
Over-the-wire transmission is somewhat wasteful -- electricity flowing through wires loses energy as heat -- but by raising the long-haul line voltage to a quarter-, half- or even one million volts, the loss is much less. Look at the power lines: The bigger the insulator, generally the higher the voltage. Inter-city lines with two, three or four conductors per phase are the supertankers of the electricity-moving business.

Power in watts is equal to voltage times current. Power lost equals current squared times resistance of the conductor. By using transformers (yep, some loss there) to raise the voltage, less current is required. There are even superconductor lines in development.

Of course, they call it a grid for a reason: lots of plants generate lots of juice, and they're all interconnected (and synchronized!) to supply power when and where it's needed. That's called infrastructure!
 
2012-05-21 06:37:43 PM  

thecpt: stuhayes2010: The entire history in 6 paragraphs and a link to a video. Nice.

Yeah, so a link that describes a link... Kind of hate subby right now.


#firstworldproblems
 
2012-05-21 06:42:21 PM  

Ned Stark: imontheinternet: Y U NO WIRELESS?

Because you can't charge for it.


If only there was some proven business model of wireless transmission being profitable without billing individual end users.

blog.oregonlive.com
 
2012-05-21 07:13:04 PM  

Sylvia_Bandersnatch: Ned Stark: imontheinternet: Y U NO WIRELESS?

Because you can't charge for it.

If only there was some proven business model of wireless transmission being profitable without billing individual end users.

[blog.oregonlive.com image 512x360]


yeah, but how do you put ads into electricity?
 
2012-05-21 07:53:29 PM  

Ned Stark: Sylvia_Bandersnatch: Ned Stark: imontheinternet: Y U NO WIRELESS?

Because you can't charge for it.

If only there was some proven business model of wireless transmission being profitable without billing individual end users.

[blog.oregonlive.com image 512x360]

yeah, but how do you put ads into electricity?


If you assume that the monetised model must exactly and directly follow the model of commercial radio, then that may well be a problem, and I don't know the answer. I do know that broadcasting over power lines (BPL) is possible, and done, so maybe that points towards a possible answer. (Same power, different conveyance. How different? I don't know, ask an engineer.) Or the method some Brits have used to capture BBC AM energy to power tiny parking lights, based on the same wipi (wireless power by induction) principles that Tesla described.

There may be other ways to monetise it, and I expect some smart people could figure that out, I don't know. Or perhaps it could be socialised, in the same way that roads and bridges and fire and police are in most modern places, and everyone just pays into it. Or perhaps billed by some hybrid metric, such as how water billing used to be done in New York City. I expect there are numerous possibilities.

My point, though, is that I think it's limiting to presume that it's not workable economically only because it's different from line billing. That might well be true, but I feel very strongly that interesting and innovative ideas should not be stifled by such concerns. If someone has an interesting idea -- and I happen to feel that wipi is a very exciting idea, with enormous potential -- then I can't stand to see it pissed all over for fear that it might not be workable. We can explore those questions, and yes, we must, but let's not be afraid to at least consider the possibilities, even if we later conclude they're not workable. Let's at least prove to ourselves that they're not, instead of assuming based on hunches.

At the very least, I think wipi can work economically on a small scale, within homes and businesses, in the same way that you can plug in your laptop at a coffee shop. There is a real cost borne of this by the proprietors, but it's small enough that they don't worry about it, like the cost of each toilet flush, and those incidental costs get rolled into the whole with little notice. High-power wipi offers much greater economic challenges, but I think we may well be able to work them out.
 
2012-05-21 08:58:27 PM  

plumbicon: That's called infrastructure!


Except the grids are basically "peered" in a very similar concept to the Internet's BGP -- quid pro quo contracts between companies that have little incentive to make these connections reliable. The difference is that the Internet has various CDNs and other services that can use various tricks to deliver content seamlessly and eliminate the possibility of cascade failure. So if one ISP screws the pooch, traffic just gets re-routed. The interconnections raise overall reliability The power grids bring each other down.

Things are this way, of course, because America's got its priorities straight. We care more about LOLcats than our power infrastructure. It's gotten to the point where a lot of companies have invested in backup power systems.
 
2012-05-21 09:37:09 PM  
3 paragraphs? CTRL-W
 
2012-05-21 09:41:18 PM  

hobnail: dittybopper: imontheinternet: [upload.wikimedia.org image 220x280]

Y U NO WIRELESS?

Because we like being able to communicate that way.

Plus, wireless transmission of power is wasteful.

I'm an ignoramus when it comes to these things, but I was under the impression that over-the-wire transmission is pretty wasteful too.

/willing to learn otherwise


Wire I2R loss is NOTHING like wireless in terms of waste.
 
2012-05-22 10:07:40 AM  
great, now farkers know about Appleton. thank FSM that college ave cannot attract their attention

/lives up by northland, long story
 
2012-05-22 01:49:20 PM  

erewhon: hobnail: dittybopper: imontheinternet: [upload.wikimedia.org image 220x280]

Y U NO WIRELESS?

Because we like being able to communicate that way.

Plus, wireless transmission of power is wasteful.

I'm an ignoramus when it comes to these things, but I was under the impression that over-the-wire transmission is pretty wasteful too.

/willing to learn otherwise

Wire I2R loss is NOTHING like wireless in terms of waste.


The thing about wireless power is that there are different technologies you can use. The two 'mainstream' ones are radiated power, and inductive coupling. Radiated power can actually have respectable efficiency, and has been seriously considered. However, the only practical way to do it is using a highly directional microwave beam. It's been talked about for point-to-point applications, like sending power to a remote island, and everyone's favorite, the orbital solar power satellite. With decent antennas and a focused beam it's possible, although there are obviously health issues involved. Still, it's been proposed that it would be safe, if the energy density were kept low.

The other method, inductive coupling, is actually being explored quite a bit. In this case, you basically just have two circuits tuned to resonate at the same frequency, and if you drive them at this frequency they can magnetically couple over some distance. This can be very efficient if designed properly, although it is very near-field. Still, you could use it for things like wireless charging your laptop and cell phone when you walk into a room. This has been messed with for years, although not too long ago WiTricity made some news with it. I could see the electronics involved integrated into small packages, so that it's fairly cheap to stick it in phones and whatnot. Here's a demonstration I through together a couple weeks ago for a presentation:

home.whatsmykarma.com

If I feel like it, I might make wireless Christmas lights, but I'll have to wait and see.

Nikola Tesla's plans for wireless power were actually kind of different, as he basically wanted to use the entire planet as a giant conductor. (That is, use the upper atmosphere as a one conductor, and the earth as a return path.) Basically, this would work by putting giant Tesla coils at strategic points (eg, Niagara Falls), and having other coils turned to the same resonant frequency elsewhere to receive power. As far as I know, he worked on this on smaller scales and found somewhat promising results, but he ran out of money before he could actually try it out at the level he'd imagined (Wardenclyffe Tower). He claimed that when scaled up it would be relatively efficient, but again I'm not sure if anyone's gotten any evidence to support that since his time.

Wireless power works, and is potentially very useful, but it's not really a magic solution to all of our problems. I mean, it's neat, and people are researching it, but there's still a lot to be said for wires, although arranging them better than we have been would be good.

/I like playing with electricity
 
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