Thursday, January 28, 2010

Making a Star on Earth

Check out the Science website (follow the link at the bottom)

The controlled fusion of atoms - creating conditions like those in our Sun - has been touted as a potentially revolutionary energy source. However, there have been doubts about the planned use of powerful lasers for fusion energy because the "plasma" they create could interrupt the fusion. The Science article showed that plasma is far less a problem than expected. The report is based on the first experiments from the National Ignition Facility in the US that used all 192 of its laser beams.

Along the way, the experiments smashed the record for the highest energy from a laser - by a factor of 20.

The goal, as its name implies, is to harness the power of the largest laser ever built to start "ignition" - effectively a carefully controlled thermonuclear explosion.

It is markedly different from current nuclear power, which operates through splitting atoms - fission - rather than squashing them together as in fusion.

Proving that such a lab-based fusion reaction can release more energy than is required to start it - rising above the so-called breakeven point - could herald a new era in large-scale energy production.

In the approach Nif takes, called inertial confinement fusion, the target is a centimetre-scale cylinder of gold called a hohlraum. Giant laser experiment powers up It contains a tiny pellet of fuel made from an isotope of hydrogen called deuterium. Inside the hohlraum is a tiny pellet containing an extremely cold, solid mixture of hydrogen isotopes. Lasers strike the hohlraum's walls, which in turn radiate X-rays. X-rays strip material from the outer shell of the fuel pellet, heating it up to millions of degrees. If the compression of the fuel is high enough and uniform enough, nuclear fusion can result

A significant potential hurdle to the process that many have suggested over 30 years of the laser fusion debate regards the "plasma" that the lasers will create in the hohlraum.

The fear has been that the plasma, a roiling soup of charged particles, would interrupt the target's ability to absorb the lasers' energy and funnel it uniformly into the fuel, compressing it and causing ignition.

Siegfried Glenzer, the Nif plasma scientist, led a team to test that theory, smashing records along the way.

"We hit it with 669 kilojoules - 20 times more than any previous laser facility," Nif's Siegfried Glenzer told BBC News.

That isn't that much total energy; it's about enough to boil a one-litre kettle twice over.

However, the beams delivered their energy in pulses lasting a little more than 10 billionths of a second.

By way of comparison, if that power could be maintained, it would boil the contents of more than 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools in a second.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Was it worth the climb up here to stand on the roof of our world and gaze over the view? In the distance the waves glint as I follow the great plain west and watch the undulating baize of the land give way to the silvered pool. Or face north to snow capped peaks that rise through the green gap in the near hills that are clothed in oaks. Or maybe east to the high barren ridge that separates two glacial valleys so completely they as well may be separate countries. Or look south toward the weakened winter sun that tries in vain to shine through the mists that hang in the air and yet do not obscure the view over the brown moorland.
     How magical the world seems from on a god in Olympus I can look down and feel a kindred longing that the view should never change. Then I leave and take the swiftest roads to home wherever that may be.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Out of mind and bereft of surviving will, I can travel anywhere I wish. I cannot remember all the places, but ever there was a roof of stars above to lay a gilded thread for my footfall. Travelling through time, in time, I become a child of time. Everywhere and nowhere, I was floating among the wonders of the cosmos and grasping relative concepts with ease, to touch the event horizon with a single thought. See it envelop my form and pull my being into the darkness to lie in the womb of space time. How long there is inconsequential, but I emerge once again and the light rushes toward me like a revelation. And at last I awake on a sunny bower with the birds chorusing their exuberance and I know intuitively I am home.

Monday, January 25, 2010

I begin to see it all now and as the days lengthen into spring so too does my mind. Light rushes in to fill the day and knowledge invades ignorance to envelop the consciousness in wonder. I see now life was not about living at all. Living begins when there is nothing left to hold on to. When we finally see that life is indeed futile but more importantly ultimately it is transient, does our soul shake free the chains we wrap ourselves in? I no longer feel the wind or the warmth of the sun, nor taste the air, because I have become a part of all these things. I have become the essence of the world.
     So ask me now what I see? It is a world of colour. I see colour, I am colour. If I could paint you a May dawn of light and shade with a glistening dew on green grass, brown earth and a blue sky caressed by a yellow sun then you would begin to see a little of this new world. But you wouldn’t feel the warmth and the innate calm that wreaks an almost painful joy on every moment.
     I am a tall tree rushing into growth, a robin singing the new day, a rainbow in a gentle rain and scented in new mown hay, baking bread and freshly ground coffee. I have become the sum of every joyous day and yet beside the guardians I seem but a child. For each of them is the sum of a millennia of rebirth, they are pyramids of existence. I could never seek to describe them yet, for I have not gained the vision or skill, but one day.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday 23rd Jan 2010

Well here we are so soon toward the end of January and like blind men reborn a little more of each day is revealed to us. It now seems hard to believe there was so much snow before so I’m so glad I took some pictures...probably be a long time before England again looks like Lapland.

Since the New Year I have been walking to and from work and have been off the wine so feeling quite healthy at the minute. I am enjoying walking to work and should have done it years ago. I’ve grown a two week old beard but it is amazing how many people are so suspicious of it...what’s that all about? It has grown really fast but if I had any doubts just how old I am getting just one look in the mirror at the grey fuzz reassure me...I look like my dad and that is always a worrying point in one’s life to reach. For the moment I am quite taken with my new look but I doubt it will reach spring.

Work is quiet at the moment and I moved into a new office yesterday (closer to the exit I feel.) I smell a rat but we’ll see. I mean I could lose my job, be given a large sum of money and have to spend spring and summer pottering around the wouldn’t that be terrible!

Hope you have a good weekend.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Long roads stretch out from home laced in shadows marked by the dying embers of the sun. Swift into dusk the tongues of flame are replaced with silver limmed shadows that flicker under light of the waking moon. Night calls to me and I set my feet to the journey. I feel the call of the trees and the wind that carries the scent of the sea. With starlight on my brow I walk into the night with only an Earthsong to guide me. Its words come from ancient memory and sung gently it take me through Beech halls with their grey columns upraised on a carpet of copper autumn leaves supporting a roof gilded in a silver wooden lattice till at last I come to an avenue of sandstone that was hewed by men. It opens up at the end into a wooded arena and I understand already that I am not alone. I sense them watching, listening to my song and in the pale moonlight they sing reply to it and step from the shadows between the trees into the waking world. Beings older than I, greater than I and yet more humble than I. As children they seem and yet are as ancient as the bones of rock that shape the world. Forms made manifest to my eyes by a deeper belief and time and see they come to greet me and awed by their song I become stardust and melt with them into the shadows as I am reborn.
     Reborn within their song of majesty, that takes each note and displays the story of creation. As the music swells I see the threads of time weaving into the weft of the present and the warp of the future. The older cloth shimmers while the newest is dull and dowdy. The fabric of the world made in song shows these beings have nurtured us from the beginning of time. We are the wards of a titanic history and as unruly upstarts we have nearly laid waste to all we have been given.
     They have no technology only an organic insight that co-exists with all other living things. They do not die; they simply take on a different form to explore the world anew. How so? Within the earth is a now waning power that is the dynamo of destiny. It is a declining force now and with each passing day a little more is lost forever. Each lost tree, each acre of woodland is a doom to the force that sustains them and so they retreat further from man and transform into something lesser than before. Yet think how mighty must they have been at the beginning to make this glorious world and maintain it as a paradise for so long.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The days at the minute are damp and strangely mild. Which is such a change from the week before. Almost like a different season in a week. I am sure it will turn cold again soon but hard to work out what the weather is doing at the minute…looks like rain for the foreseeable future and yet there is snow forecast. Well we’ll see. We’ve had the new moon and move toward the first quarter so it is pretty dark and foggy out at the minute. But the days are growing lighter once more and I look forward to being able to come home and see the light.
So take a finger and hold it aloft
Touch the sky and make a wish
Not for power, but for hope and
Set it free to ripple across the moon

Feel the gravity of the universe
Pull the entire senses heavenward
Into a night sky in January and see…
We are drawn into eternity together

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Night turns to milder vistas borne on a moon suspended in depth of winter. Already to wane, she fills the foggy skies with a gentle sigh that will herald clearer starlit skies of fortune. In the cold I look toward the milky skies that hold the moon and I feel the approaching spring and know there is hope and wonder in the world.
For the moon often cries and sometimes I touch her tears as they run along the edge of the world into the sea. Despite the tragedies, the world rises ever toward new days even though we cannot see them yet and the cold feels like a benison now, for it means that there shall be nights beneath feathered layers and that…at least till spring we shall need each other to keep warm

Monday, January 11, 2010

Brrr…it was so cold this morning, but the clear sky peppered with stars and the declining moon, delivered just enough light to lay a trail of stars, to take my feet across the thawing snow to work through the night’s icy embrace.

Enjoy the pictures of the lake...completely frozen over and doesn’t that bench look spectacularly uninviting

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The whole week has been like a stroll through Narnia. I almost expect to see a lamppost and a faun if I stay out long enough and I’m almost sure there’s a wicked ice queen somewhere nearby! The snow on the branches is traced along all the contours to a depth of 2 inches and although it looks frozen on the limbs, a gentle prod cascades it airily down to the ground. We have had little wind and it is incredible to see all the trees looking like this. But boy, its cold...officially colder than the south pole on a couple of days! So don’t you worry about the Emperor penguins trying to keep their eggs warm think of us poor northerners trying desperately to keep our pies warm; not easy balancing them on your feet? Which brings me to that old southerners joke? “What is a Lancashire kebab?” the answer is “2 pies on a stick!”
Not that I’m eating many at the minute as I seem to have had a touch of food poisoning which is luckily getting much better now. Not sure what caused it though but suspecting a meat pie from the pie shop near work, but who knows what is floating around at the minute in this frozen ether? I took Thursday and Friday off work

If I this weather I think I should live like a hobbit in a large dwelling cut into a sandy bank overlooking a rural scene. I’d sit by the fire on these freezing days of winter toasting crumpets by a roaring log fire till spring. Ah well; I’m toasting lots of crumpets anyway (hobbit hole or no!) and trowelling on slabs of the best butter in the world. It is Normandy Sea Salted Butter and it is a salted churned butter made from fresh creamy Normandy milk with the added tang of a little rock salt. To a Frenchman, Isigny in Normandy is synonymous with fine butter. It's held in such high regard that gourmets and gastronomes have been singing the praises of Isigny butter since the 15th Century. It isn’t very healthy though so go easy. Remember ‘a little of what you fancy does you good, but a lot will kill you!’ A 10g serving 73, fat 8.0g, sat fat 5.4g, salt 0.2g, total sugars 0.1g.

Enjoy the pictures – 1 is of the garden from a distance and I circled the rough outline. Hope you have a good weekend.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

5th Jan 2010

Well the New Year has come in on icy wings that have unfolded to hurl torrents of snow downward. I left my car at home and walked to work (3 miles) this morning as I could see the day was not going to improve and it hasn’t. It took 45 minutes and it has been a long time since I walked to work, or remember snow so thick and deep, clinging to the tree branches like a shadowy silhouette in white. It is stunningly beautiful though; in the brief way that urban snow is, till the cold and the damp turn it to grey. I took some photos of the trees as I thought it might be a long time till I see them like this again. I’ll put them on the blog so enjoy the photos of the trees at my work. The heavy snow is passing south this afternoon so hopefully tomorrow everything should have returned back to normal. Mike took some photos also today and I’ll put some of them on too
Hope you are having a good start to the year and at least we can remember that the days are lengthening and soon the cold will pass and spring shall be upon us once again. All my best wishes

Saturday, January 02, 2010

1st Jan 2010
Another year and also another decade begin and I wonder what shall they bring? Strangely enough as I grow older the big wishes and drams lessen and much smaller visions suffice. Just yesterday I couldn’t have known that today I would be standing in the centre of my frozen pond during a snow shower. I did have visions of it cracking under the strain but it held. One never knows what tomorrow will bring? The things we experience are not always good things but they are always challenging.

I’ve had10 days off work but it feels like only a weekend has passed. I had loads of plans and projects but they came to nothing in the end. Some because I couldn’t get motivated but all the outdoor jobs were stopped due to frozen or snow covered ground. We had a white (snowy) Christmas and New Year.

Nick got me a higher definition camera for Christmas so maybe you’ll see a difference in the pictures below. I took a picture of a wasp queen nestled in the garden shed doorway. She's got a light sprinkling of snow but I blew it off before I closed the door.

Happy New Year