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Power Idle Technology

Scott Adams's Plan For Building Giant Energy-Generating Pyramids 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the pyramid-power dept.
LoLobey (1932986) writes "Scott Adams has proposed a pyramid project to save the world via energy generation and tourism. Basically build giant pyramids, miles wide and high, in the desert to generate power via chimney effect and photo voltaics with added features for tourism (he's planning ahead for when robots take over all the work and we'll need something to do). He's had a few "Big Ideas" lately (canals, ice bergs, ion energy)."
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Scott Adams's Plan For Building Giant Energy-Generating Pyramids

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps you could 3D print yourselves to Egypt and deploy your 3D printers to "make" (gag) this pyramid over the weekend?

    Surely it is a brave new future for the species, so it should be easy?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Will the food stands sell dilberitos?

  • But (Score:5, Funny)

    by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @09:18PM (#47125575) Journal

    He doesn't have the pointy hair necessary to manage the project

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Frosty Piss (770223) *

      He doesn't have the pointy hair necessary to manage the project

      And I, a DBA who took a little extra math in college wonder why people don't take me seriously when I pontificate about World Affairs.

      You know, it's the same thing with rock stars and famous actors, they start thinking that they are the smartest people in the world who can bring civilization into a uniform fold of unbridled love...

      Johnny Depp, "Bono", many others with way too much money and platoons of Latino housekeepers...

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)

        And I, a DBA who took a little extra math in college wonder why people don't take me seriously when I pontificate about World Affairs.

        Oh, I take you seriously.

        So do the cops watching your house.

        • So do the cops watching your house.

          Only because they drink at the same bar I do, so they know me and look out for me.

          How about you?

      • Bono was instrumental in pusuading Clinton to clamp down on IRA funding coming from Boston, which eventually lead to the downfall of the IRA and the start of the peace process. Bono (and Geldof) also managed to get the crippling cold war debt that was foisted onto Africa written off the books, a clean slate for billions of impovrished people. When you start accomplishing selfless good deeds of that magnitude maybe people will listen to you too.
        • by dave420 (699308)
          Bono was not as influential in either of those issues as you seem to think he was.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          He also worked with George Bush on African AIDS relief. Don't make the same mistake the Hollywood idiots make of lumping people together because of their professions or geographical locations. I wouldn't put him in the same truck with Depp, or Paltrow. Bono actively works for the causes he believes in and has shown a williness to work with people across the political spectrum to actually get things done. How influential is he? More so than your self-indulgent average west coast Hollywood liberal.

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @09:32PM (#47125647) Homepage Journal

    Someone's got to Hire and Manage the Engineering Team from the Pleiades.
    What? You think mankind possesses the technology to build a pyramid?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Rainwater can be collected and recycled fairly easily. Crops of hydroponic vegetable gardens can be grown using robots. One level could be set aside for chicken and cows. Wind power can be generated on the top levels. A few levels can be set aside for humans. I would think that making the base with steel and upper levels with aluminum beams would be the most practical. It would have the best balconies ever! I can't wait to move in!!

    • You could call the prototype "Biodome," and I bet you could make an amazing comedy about it.
    • by Muros (1167213)

      Rainwater can be collected and recycled fairly easily. Crops of hydroponic vegetable gardens can be grown using robots. One level could be set aside for chicken and cows. Wind power can be generated on the top levels. A few levels can be set aside for humans. I would think that making the base with steel and upper levels with aluminum beams would be the most practical. It would have the best balconies ever! I can't wait to move in!!

      If you started of with the center of many modern large cities with skyscrapers, you already have the support structure for a massive hollow pyramid in place. Of course, few of those cities happen to be in hot deserts.

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @09:45PM (#47125723) Homepage
    Nothing to see here folks, the joke is in the subject line.
  • Let's math: Assuming that the miles high pyramid uses free sun power to melt sand and we only need PV to power lifting the glass blocks The great pyramid of giza is 455' tall and has 10^12 joules of potential energy (http://what-if.xkcd.com/95/) A 2 mile high pyramid with the same dimensions is about 12x taller if you scale up the pyramid by 12, that's 12^4x more energy (using this formula: http://www.physicsforums.com/s... [physicsforums.com]) 12^4*10^12 joules=2e16 joules = 5e9 kWh wholesale price of electricity is 5 cents
    • by muhula (621678) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @10:26PM (#47125941)

      (sorry, lost formatting)

      Let's math:

      Assuming that the miles high pyramid uses free sun power to melt sand and we only need PV to power lifting the glass blocks

      The great pyramid of giza is 455' tall and has 10^12 joules of potential energy (http://what-if.xkcd.com/95/)
      A 2 mile high pyramid with the same dimensions is about 12x taller
      If you scale up the pyramid by 12, that's 12^4x more energy (http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=428636)
      12^4*10^12 joules=2e16 joules = 5e9 kWh
      Wholesale price of electricity is 5 cents per kWh
      5e9 kWh * .05 dollars/kWh = 250,000,000 dollars

      This could easily triple depending on motor losses and other energy costs. So you could make your giant pyramid with "free" energy or you could sell the energy on the open market for almost a billion dollars

      • by wierd_w (1375923) on Friday May 30, 2014 @06:30AM (#47127431)

        The issue I see is not "Lifting the blocks is energy expensive, therefor wont work!", the issue I see is "Clearing the sand down to bedrock is expensive, and therefor wont work!"

        Here's the deal:

        Sand grains in the desert are small, and are carried by wind. Wind is powered by solar induced thermal exchanges. Wind energy routinely creates and moves humongous piles of sand around, and the formation of those piles of sand can be controlled by building or placing obstacles to redirect wind flow/speed/pressure. A nearly entirely passive process can be used to deposit the sand, even up on top of the pyramid while it is being built. The only thing you need to lift manually is the sintering system.

        However, by the same token, you MUST place the pyramid directly on bedrock to avoid having the sand get blown out from under the pyramid by said wind patterns.(Unless you WANT your pyramid to break in half!) Clearing out several feet of sand is a non-trivial task that is energy intensive. Getting the wind to do this for you is not very feasible.

        Once the pyramids(s) is (are) made however, you will have the undesirable consequence of their being made from glass, in an erosive sand environment featuring wind. Glass is substantively "softer" on the mohs hardness scale than is raw crystalline silicon dioxide-- the primary component of sand. The pyramid will get abraded HARD, and will require very aggressive maintenance.

        • The lighthouse of Alexandria was build with bricks made of GLASS.
          It lasted over 1000 years, survived several earthquakes (needed repairs ofc) and was in operation as a lighthouse nearly 600 years long. Untill the top of it was finally converted into a mosque.
          I would wager using glass for a modern pyramid is the least of the concerns.

        • by userw014 (707413)

          I'm not savvy enough to throw numbers at this, but I'd wonder about the large scale aspects of this.

          How tall can can you build a pile of glass bricks before the ones at the bottom fail?

          What effect does on-site manufacture of glass have on it's reliability? What about local impurities, etc.?

          What additional stresses (sheering, etc.) will occur to the glass because of daily and seasonal thermal changes?

          What are the effects of mile (or kilometer) distant heat source/sink differences on a Stirling Engine (esp.

        • you MUST place the pyramid directly on bedrock to avoid having the sand get blown out from under the pyramid

          Hah!
          They told me my pyramid would sink into the sand, but I went ahead and built in anyway.
          And it sank into the sand.
          So, I rebuilt it from scratch!

          And it sank into the sand...

      • by Muros (1167213)
        The Giza pyramids are solid structures with a few tunnels and rooms. The power generation pyramid idea would use a hollow pyramid, so you could be talking about something that weighs the same or less, even though it is so much larger.
    • by Chirs (87576) on Friday May 30, 2014 @01:35AM (#47126675)

      Presumably it would be just a hollow shell, and thus vastly lighter in weight than the pyramid of giza.

    • Bear in mind that Heatthrow Terminal 5 cost upwards of $6 billion.

      If you can really build something like that for a billion doallars then you're onto something.

      Otherwise it's just a Great Big Pyramid scheme.

  • by Fencepost (107992) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @11:07PM (#47126143) Journal
    The concept is nothing new, and in fact there are active and semi - active attempts at building some or at least exploring some elements of them. Notable (per Wikipedia) are Masdar City near Abu Dhabi, many Las Vegas hotels, and Arcosanti in Arizona.
  • Scam (Score:2, Funny)

    by MildlyTangy (3408549)

    Great, just what the world needs, another pyramid scheme.

  • Why build a massive pyramid, why not just use an existing object that is miles high and adapt it for the chimney effect...a mountain?

    • by Muros (1167213)
      You want the air inside to be heated by the sun so it will rise. Mountains are pretty good at blocking sunlight.
      • Roof over a slope, cover it with PV, build turbines at the top, kiss your money goodby. Still orders of magnitude cheaper then a pyramid.

        • A steel-frame pyramid in a desert has three advantages over a mountain. First, the chimney effect is better when there's more air heated. Second, it gets hot in deserts and there's a lot of sun, vs. snow-covered and cloud-draped mountains. Third, heavy precipitation and forests don't cover deserts and serve the surrounding areas with abundant water and oxygen.

          • There are no southern facing steep slopes in deserts?

            Pyramids having a lower surface area/volume ratio vs slopes is a disadvantage of pyramids. To say nothing of the cost of framing up that tall.

            If the slope won't work the pyramid certainly won't. All three of you 'advantages' are wrong or based on wrong assumptions.

  • It's Adams', not Adams's. How could you not know that?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's utter nonsense. His surname's not a plural.

    • Both are correct, although s' seems favored over s's, either one can be used and be considered correct. This particular rule is one that is of style, not grammar, which might be surprising. The only rule suggested in style manuals is that you remain consistent and stick with one or the other in whatever you're writing.
  • Just an updraft tower?

    Here I thought we were going to see something along the lines of Siva! [amazon.com].

  • Didn't ideas like this used to be really popular in the 90's? Where everyone was trying to design buildings, sometimes called archologies, that could serve all of life's needs in a sustainable way. Technically, I think Adams was talking about more of a utility plant, but for a structure of this size, why not make it a fully sustainable community? Extract water from the air, build some green houses, and then you don't even need robots, you've got people to do the maintenance. Frank Herbert would probabl
  • My scheme was to use convict labor to build great pyramids by hand. Escape would not be likely as the desert spots would be way to far from the first water holes. Give convicts a credit for each good work day put in. That way instead of a ten year sentence we could give a 3,000 work day sentence. If the convict chooses not to work diligently he auto converts his sentence to permanent imprisonment. A few years of hard manual labor in the sun will tame almost anyone.
  • The Religion War by Scott Adams: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]

    "Global Information Corporation (GIC) (an all-encompassing, worldwide future sort of TIA created out of fear of terrorism) to analyze GIC's massive databases using software. Also, people's phones are, in the name of preventing terrorist communications,"

    I'd never heard of a TIA
    TIA wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org] "TIA was the "biggest surveillance program in the history of the United States".[8] The program was suspended
  • Solar Tower, anyone?

    http://www.enviromission.com.au/ [enviromission.com.au]

    I believe California is building one of these in Arizona, and (at least the paperwork part of) another just got started in Texas. At a kilometer in height, one would generate around 250 megawatts.

COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray

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