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Power Science

Wilma the Capacitor and Particle Accelerator 238

Sterling D. Allan writes "In a story at the new Open Source Energy Network site, Paul Noel says: "Energetically speaking, the vortex that forms in these storms is also a natural particle accelerator, and a massive capacitor bank. As the harmonic circuit develops, it resonates acoustically and functions as a capacitor, extracting the heat from the storm and transmitting it away. Without this electrical circuit, the storm would fail almost instantly due to the accumulation of heat from condensation of water." He also asserts that understanding these phenomena better could help us harness the power of nature, seen and unseen."
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Wilma the Capacitor and Particle Accelerator

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  • by SpeedyGonz ( 771424 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:22AM (#13879587)
    before they do any damage to us: Detonating an EMP bomb inside?
    • by fireboy1919 ( 257783 ) <rustypNO@SPAMfreeshell.org> on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:40AM (#13879673) Homepage Journal
      This confirms my long held suspicion that those pseudo-scientific explainations of the Oz effect (that hurricanes, cyclones, and other cyclonic weather phenomena can tear holes in our space-time continuum and send us to parallel earths or back in time) are all totally correct.

      Its time to harness hurricanes to establish trade relations with dinosaurs, talking animals, and anything else we can get at through the dimensional rifts torn into existance.

      I, for one welcome the chance to become a hurricane overlord.
      • You want to talk to animals?
        Frankly, they wouldn't stand a whelk's chance in a supernova.
        What does a whelk have to do with a Supernova? It wouldn't stand a chance in one. Sort of like talking animals in a hurricane.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Oz effect. They made a major motion picture about it, I believe it was...wait for it...

        It's the final countdown!
        *didudiiiduuu dididi da du*
    • Wouldn't that just add energy to it?

      I'd think we'd want to suck out as much energy as we could. Either that or just chill the storm somehow but the energy required would be huge and the net effect would probably bring on a quick ice age.

      Maybe swarms of flying nano-bots are the solution. A large enough mass of them would disrupt the flow of warm water vapor. Therefore it would deny the storm the energy needed. Of course we're still a ways off from effective use of nano-bots but I can dream.
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheoGB ( 786170 ) <theo@nOsPam.graham-brown.org.uk> on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:24AM (#13879598) Homepage
    So we could actually find a use for this greenhouse effect we're generating.

    Of course, once we use this cheap power we stop making greenhouse gases and our power source dies.


    (But no, this is very cool.)
    • Re:Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Ignignot ( 782335 )
      You're assuming that the hurricanes are caused by the greenhouse effect. That's quite a leap of faith, in my opinion. We have recently had quite a few hurricanes, but there have been periods in the past where they have been just as bad. If I recall correctly, the year with the record for hurricanes before 2005 happened before weather sats existed, so there were almost certainly storms that were not counted on that year.

      And more on topic, I think the big deal would be the ability to stop hurricanes by s
      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

        by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @11:35AM (#13881032) Journal
        "If I recall correctly, the year with the record for hurricanes before 2005 happened before weather sats existed, so there were almost certainly storms that were not counted "

        The Atlantic has been a busy place for over 100yrs, I don't think the weather geeks missed too many big storms in the last century just because they didn't have satellites.

        The GW aspect is not about the frequency of storms but rather the total amount of energy they contain, although given enough energy more storms could be expected to reach hurricane status. There is no hard evidence that the frequency is trending upwards (the frequency increase over the last few years is on too short a time scale to be significant). However there is good evidence that the total energy over the last 30 yrs has steadily increased but as far as I know the jury is still diliberating.

        If you look back over the last 30yrs or so at reports such as from the IPCC and many other credible publications before it, you will find a plethora of predictions. Many of these predictions have already been verified by observation, unfortunately they have occured much sooner than the scientific establishment thought they would.

        As an example, 10yrs ago the GHG feedback loop from melting permafrost was thought to be at least 50yrs away (if it happened at all). Recently one of those weather satelites observed this process over Siberria. A higher frequency of extreme weather has also been a long standing prediction, but you are technically correct, just because it waddles and quacks doesn't mean they are right.

        The US has contributed as much to climate research as all the other countries combined. The rest of the planet appreciates this incredible scientific effort but cannot understand why the US continues to insist their emporer is not stark naked.

        As for TFA, magnets will not stop a hurricane, cure arthritis or sterilize your water but they can be used to scan for brains.
        • by Grab ( 126025 )
          Off-topic, but the best way to use magnets to scan for brains is to see who's bought magnetic bracelets or magnetic insoles. If you have, you don't have them...

  • Are you serious? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:26AM (#13879604)
    The author takes painkillers while the storm is thousands of miles away because of the electrical effects of the storm on his body.

    Give me a break.
    • It is because of the chaos theory, butterflies and all that!
    • It's widely known that people suffer various ailments prior to storms. Maybe it's particularly bad in this person?
    • by Engineer-Poet ( 795260 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @09:04AM (#13879831) Homepage Journal
      FTFA [opensourceenergy.org]:
      During its transit of Florida, satellite photos showed that areas of the high clouds of Wilma covering more than 1/3 of the state were below -135 F. (The lowest temperature for the IR satellite chart). It was actually close in a large area to -175. Some areas exceeded that. This is what happens when you dump the arctic into the tropics. Explosions happen! The forecast of a weak Cat 1 became a strong Cat 3 due to this temperature shock.
      Actually, that's what happens when you take huge amounts of air and loft them tens of thousands of feet; they expand and cool (even as they drop moisture and release heat to power the lift process) and get very cold at their tops.

      None of this is strange physics. All of it is accounted for by current weather models. Talk of "particle accelerators" and "capacitor banks" is silly; there's a lot of energy converted to lightning in thunderstorms, but it's small and secondary compared to the heat engine which drives it.

      The authors of this piece are first-class cranks.

      • I'm always leery of "research" that is thrown up on a website because basically anyone can do it. Can't CT restrain himself to published research rather than every person with a webpage and possible psychosis induced by extreme back pain?
    • To bad the site has hijcked the term "open source". The less the term is associated with crackpots the better.

      By the way any big storm will create "seismic disturbances". Big waves crash on shore, and heavy stuff falls over, and seismographs can pick this up. Big woo.

      And falling barometric pressure can make your joints hurt, as the pressure inside your body equalizes with outside.
  • Kill the storm? (Score:3, Informative)

    by skyshock21 ( 764958 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:26AM (#13879606)
    Is there a way to remove that electrical current then before it hits the shore? Then the storm would "fail almost instantly"?
    • Even if you could would you really want to. You mess with nature at your peril, who knows what long term effects dissipating storms would have. There are enough nutjobs around claiming that cloud seeding is the cause of some historical floods as it is.
    • sure just get a big old fashoned ultraviolet pulse laser and zap the storm, it would ionize the air between the laser and the storm causing a short circuit. OBTW you're nominated to push the button on the laser, I'm going to watch from a half mile away.

      There was talk about lightning being significant in tornadoes, and I can vouch for there being a lot of lightning in tornadoes, I've seen five of them at night and they even glow a very pretty blue-green. We also clocked windspeeds of over 800MPH on school (u
  • At last (Score:3, Funny)

    by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:28AM (#13879616) Homepage
    He also asserts that understanding these phenomena better could help us harness the power of nature

    At last, a coherent argument for global warming and climate change.

    • The link between global warming an hurricane activity isn't quite there yet...they need more data, which means they need more destructive hurricanes.

      Here's a good overview [thewatt.com] of the current thinking with the link between hurricane activity and global warming. Basically they can't prove the link between the number of hurricane's that make it inland, but it seems as if a link between hurricane strength and global warming is there. Since the 70's the number of class 4 and 5 hurricanes have gone steadily upwards.

      • Is it not also true that hurricane patterns run in cycles. Thus every 20 to 30 years there is a cycle and they also believe there is a secondary cycle. In the 120 year range.

        We don't have records dating back very far on how stonge hurricane are, we don't have a clue how many there have been outside of the last 100 years, and those are just in 1858 it felt like 140 mile per hours winds!

        Anyway my point being we have no constructive data about hurricanes at all in the range that we need them to have any idea i
  • by Phanatic1a ( 413374 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:30AM (#13879622)
    Could Slashdot's editors please learn to tell the difference between science and pseudoscience? Is it too much to ask that editors, if not posters, RTFA?

    Check this bullshit out:

    On a more personal note, some years ago I sustained a back injury due to an auto accident, which appears to have made me more sensitive to coming weather changes. In the week before these storms I start swallowing Tylenol or similar painkillers because the symptoms make it hard for me to sleep. This was not barometric because at the time there nothing of that sort had yet been detected in my area. It is electromagnetic.

    Here is a clue for the detection of the process. The capacitance charge was forming that set up the storm, and it was this charge causes me pain! It is known as dielectric stress. Because this concept is outside the reductionistic-chemical paradigm that governs the drug industry, this not usually discussed by medical science. But those who work with cellular bio-electricity will understand this concept. This dielectric stress clearly affects chemical reactions and energy conversions in bodily cells, in addition to being well known to engineers for its effects on electrical systems and materials used in electronic devices.

    A good indicator for scientific and commercial development is the discovery of a natural process like this. If the number of "hits" from doing a search on "dielectric stress" is any indication, the control and measurement of this process is a subject of great interest for scientists and engineers working in technology development and quality control.

    What a heaping plate of crud. This is embarassing.
    • What a heaping plate of crud. This is embarassing.

      Actually I found this as lucid and useful as the "Executive Summary" and 'Mitigating Factors' in a Microsoft Security bulletin ;-). Dielectric Stress my foot. I guess if people lack basic scientific knowledge or even a scientific temper, any nonsense can be written as if it were gospel truth!

      Unless the author of the piece is himself at the vortex of the storm, he isn't acting as the dielectric in the capacitor that is the storm. His fevered imagination is pr
    • Here's his website [sterlingdallan.com]. Quite an interesting mix of websites he administers there...
    • taught by the local Life University here in Georgia, oh they teach "Chiropractic science"

      http://www.life.edu/Chiropractic_and_Wellness/what _is_chiro.asp [life.edu]
    • "Because this concept is outside the reductionistic-chemical paradigm that governs the drug industry, this not usually discussed by medical science."

      Of course it's outside the reductionistic-chemical paradigm, because it's crap! I'll file this one in the same place I file the Electric Universe theory and the UFO's-riding-behind-Comet-Hale-Bopp theory.
    • I've had this sig for a while, I can't search back and find the attribution, but its from a fellow /.er

      Hemos is like...sci-fi fans;he thinks technology is cool, but he hasn't bothered to understand the science it's based on

      I find this pretty common in techies who didn't complete a formal education. Because they never had someone explain exactly the relations of capacitance, dielectric properties, EMF, or other scientifically known phenomena, they tend to "reinvent the wheel" with new names.

      Tesla was working
    • I don't understand. Is he saying that he needs shock treatments? It appears that most psychiatrist would agree.
  • Well, I guess as long as Wilma doesn't cross the streams with Alpha, we should be OK.
  • I call BS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kyle90 ( 827345 ) <kyle90@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:34AM (#13879646) Homepage Journal
    This looks like it's a lot of big words (which the article writer doesn't even understand) and not much science.
  • by JumperCable ( 673155 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:38AM (#13879660)
    "and functions as a capacitor, extracting the heat from the storm and transmitting it away." -Article The author doesn't have a clue what a capacitor is.
    • Capacitor - An electric circuit element used to store charge temporarily, consisting in general of two metallic plates separated and insulated from each other by a dielectric. Particle Accelerator - A device, such as a cyclotron or linear accelerator, that accelerates charged subatomic particles or nuclei to high energies. It's almost ridiculous the way the author used the terms. Here's how I break down his relationships: Capacitor - A hurricane gathers energy from the warm ocean waters as it crosses the
      • Obviously hurricanes are particle accellerators. The wind consists of small particles called "molecules", which hurricanes accellerate to speeds in excess of 100 knots. And yes, hurricanes are also characterized by separation of charge. I find it difficult to imagine how anyone could fail to recognize these obvious facts.
  • by Dekortage ( 697532 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:42AM (#13879693) Homepage

    The thing he's wrong about is the causes of these electrical phenomena. It's definitely Russian-made electromagnetic generators operated by the Yakuza [mosnews.com]. If we really want to harness the power of hurricanes, we simply need to find these generators and either (a) destroy them or (b) sell them to Third World dictators to destroy each other with.

  • I was inside Wilma (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    With winds gusting to 125MPH I was inside of Wilma as it battered Ft. Lauderdale. I can tell you for a fact and from personal observation that this guy is one of those psuedo intellectual types that does not know squat about what he speaks.

    Just for the record, although I was able to get to Jacksonville after the storm, there are still millions of people in the greater Ft. Lauderdale and Miami area that have no power. The lack of power makes it so that they are unable to get gasoline and therefore they can't
  • Energetically speaking, the vortex that forms in these storms is also a natural particle accelerator ... you can say that again ...
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:53AM (#13879763) Homepage Journal
    As soon as the cyclonic windspeed hits 88MPH, spacetime is warped back to 1985 [imdb.com]. Turning slightly within the eye as it passes allows jumping to various other babyboomer moments in the 1950s. Surf's up!
  • So what this guy is trying to say is that we should attach a piece of wire with a key on the end to a kite and fly it into the storm thus tapping the stored enegry. This will not only provide us with a huge amount of free energy but disapate the storm as well. Cool.

    I'll wait while this numb skull goes and tries his ideas out.

  • "Without this electrical circuit, the storm would fail almost instantly due to the accumulation of heat from condensation of water."

    The flow of heat and water in hurricanes is well enough understood. I'm sure electrical discharges play a part in most storm mechanics, but even if a hurricane had ZERO discharges, its massive "humidity engine" would still run.

    I don't know where these guys come from, where they think that electromagnetics are the ultimate macro-scale drivers of weather events.
  • Nutters (Score:5, Informative)

    by igb ( 28052 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @08:58AM (#13879794)
    The "Harmonic Protector" (ref) did not register any activity using an "orgone meter" (ref). However, a reading taken using a sophisticated software package known as "Life Assessment" technology (ref), which is designed to analyze the balance of energies in the meridians, indicated a modest beneficial effect from this HP when it is interacting with a human body. (Ref)

    Since when did Slashdot become home to new age nutcases? Orgone Accumulators make great songs for Hawkwind and Kate Bush, but as physics it's not a basis for anything other than providing something to laugh at.


  • It did damage and frightened people.

    Best understatement for a major hurricane hitting a populated area... EVER.

  • by alanw ( 1822 ) * <alan@wylie.me.uk> on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @09:20AM (#13879938) Homepage
    Sounds very similar to the bunkum proposed by the Electric Universe nutters, and mentioned in many previous Slashdot postings.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_Universe_mod el [wikipedia.org]

  • Why is this on slashdot? This is just as bad science as many creationism sites.
    Why can't we moderate the actual stories! This should be a -3 Stupid.
  • I've read articles that claim hurricanes actually help expend the energy built up in the oceans from the sun. If we were able to stop hurricanes from forming and could just keep them as Tropical storms, could the Earth gain too much energy over time? I don't really have the answer as it is just speculation, but maybe, just maybe, hurricanes happen for a good reason. So if we mess the weather too much, I expect bad things to happen far worse than just a few hurricanes every year.
  • by Engineer-Poet ( 795260 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @10:16AM (#13880269) Homepage Journal
    This article is bunkum.

    The proper role of an editor is to properly categorize material which is suitable for the publication, and reject that which is not. Taco's judgement in this case is, shall we say, questionable. The source website is full of logical and scientific garbage, so it doesn't belong in the science category. The talk of "particle accelerators" is bunkum too, unless you are talking about phenomena like sprites and jets [alaska.edu] which also occur in thunderstorms (and are at least somewhat understood but still under research), or perhaps if you are talking about particles from shingles and 4x8 sheets of plywood up to whole trees accelerated to 150 knots. Thus it doesn't belong in the hardware category either. And it takes itself far too seriously to be funny.

    There really is no legitimate Slashdot heading under which this piece fits. Accordingly, I suggest a new one: the duncecap. This is for articles (or editorial decisions to post articles) which are too stupid for words, and to properly categorize such errors in judgement rather than throwing them down the memory hole.

    Any editor posting a mis-categorized article which really ought to be filed in "It's stupid. Ask your editor why this is here" should have to wear a real duncecap during the performance of their duties for the next 24 hours. That sort of reminder is necessary to keep editors from shirking their responsibility to be, you know, editors.

  • Obviously, /. needs a new icon.

    Well, what /. needs is editors who have some background in the scientific method [wikipedia.org].

    Well, what /. really needs is editors [wikipedia.org] .

    But I digress.

    What /. could use is a new icon for stories like this. I propose this [wikipedia.org] (suitably cropped). /. also could use a new section for stories like this - may I suggest "sqrt_minus_bs_squared.slashdot.org" - for "imaginary [wikipedia.org] bullshit [wikipedia.org]".
  • stop the spread! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zebra_X ( 13249 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @10:35AM (#13880396)
    This is total junk science. Why is this being posted as "news"? Paul claim "Without this electrical circuit, the storm would fail almost instantly due to".

    The use of the word "instantly" when discussing any weather phenomena is not accurate. Everything takes time to form, or not - to use such terms indicates the author is over exagerating his claims.

    Terms like "massive capacitor bank" and "harmonic circuits" are also used to wow the audience into thinking that perhaps the author might actually know what he is talking about.

    Not only that but it's on "opensourcenergy.org" after poking around I felt like I should get my tin foil hat out, I'd be in good company. Check out this great piece of reporting: http://www.opensourceenergy.org/_layouts/apps/dp/i ndex.asp [opensourceenergy.org]
  • Commander, if this was intended as a joke, it's not funny enough.

    This kind of thing makes me consider removing Slashdot from my feed aggregator. You probably lost a few dozen right there.

    It's not your job to know everything, but if you can't tell whether something is crap, either leave it alone, or get someone qualified to help.

  • Slashdot has alway posted stuff like this. Yeah it looks like junk(haven't read the article), but it is not new to slashdot. If articles like this haven't caused you to stop coming here by now, it never will.

    In short: Shut the Hell up.
  • Particle accelerator? I'm sorry. It all just sounds a little "time-cubish" to me.

  • by Y2 ( 733949 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @12:03PM (#13881412)
    IANAMeteorologist, but I do have a physicists' union card. The heat from the condensation of water is an integral part of keeping a thunderstorm going. I think you can find the thermodynamics of it in the Feynman Lectures, volume 2. So this electro-acoustical story sounds like BS to me.
  • And this sort of thing, ladies and gents, is why I don't pay for slashdot.
  • Bollocks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ajs318 ( 655362 )
    This guy is talking bollocks.

    Unfortunately, science is not cool anymore. It's a victim of its own success; things which obey rules never really attract attention. If light suddenly decided not to travel in straight lines, or objects suddenly ceased to attract one another in proportion to the ratio of the product of their masses to the distance between them, that would get noticed. If you want to get into the papers for drawing a triangle, all you have to do is make sure that its angles add up to somet
    • If light suddenly decided not to travel in straight lines, or objects suddenly ceased to attract one another in proportion to the ratio of the product of their masses to the distance between them, that would get noticed.

      It really depends what you mean by a straight line.

  • This article just proves again that we live in an Electric Universe!
  • by jellisky ( 211018 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @03:38PM (#13883453) Journal
    Especially as a researcher of hurricanes.

    This man needs to look at some actual real atmospheric science work. Even a little search would get him a wealth of hurricane information:
    http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/tcfaqHED.html [noaa.gov]

    I would suggest anyone interested in hurricanes to read this FAQ. It is relatively regularly updated with new research and information.

    TFA has some interesting points, but electromagnetic forces? How about simple thermodynamics? The troposphere responds to thermal forcings more readily than electromagnetic. (This is not necessarily true of the very upper reaches of the atmosphere, e.g. ionosphere, where electromagnetic forcings by the sun have not been heavily filtered and where the diatomic molecules of N2 and O2 do not make up the majority of the air.)

    He is right, though, in a analogue way about the hurricane being a capacitor and that it needs to release heat energy somehow. He's just completely wrong on how hurricanes typically do this.

    Hurricanes are warm core systems. This means that the center of the hurricane is warmer than the environment it lives in. This is required to keep the winds in balance. In a developing storm, the warm core is thought to form because of all the condensational heating. Then, as the storm strengthens, the heating from the convection (in a way) fluxes into the eye which allows the storm to strengthen and stay in balance (this is known as thermal wind balance, one of the fundamental balances in vertically-varying fluids... it is the phenomenon that explains why jet streams happen over frontal systems). In a way, one could think of the warm core of the hurricane as a sort of thermal capacitor... but it's not a perfect analogue.

    Additionally, with all that energy transfer, why doesn't a strong hurricane keep strengthening even with all the convection happening? Simply put, the convection helps maintain the hurricane vortex against friction. Since the hurricane has strong winds near the surface, an unforced vortex will spin down very quickly. The convection around the eyewall provides the energy needed to keep the vortex spinning against friction. Take a moment and think about how much energy friction must be dissipating, then, if you need as much convection as is seen with strong hurricanes.

    The hurricane is well-known to be a strongly balanced vortex that has an obvious structure that doesn't require any odd forcings like electromagnetics. Thermodynamics and fluid dynamics are all that are needed to understand 90% or more of the hurricane's structure. Electromagnetics in hurricanes is pretty silly. Besides, it's been well-observed that, given the strength of the convection in hurricanes, they have very little lightning compared to continental thunderstorms. The exact reasons for this are still speculative, but deal with the different precipitation processes in the two types of convection. Either way, I found all this rather silly. It's interesting to think about, but, from an expert in the field, pretty much ludicrous on its face.


God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"