An interesting sight on the way to Venice

Just a few weeks ago we flew from London to Venice. It was a lovely sunny day with some cloud cover as we crossed the English Channel so I pulled out my trusty camera and took a few shots. We crossed France and had a BA snack breakfast and as we approached the Alps the cloud cover started to solidify into a quite low level continuous layer at approx. 1500 to 2000m. I pulled the camera out again thinking I might be able to get some nice mountain shots. However before we got to the mountains I noticed the following circular pattern in the clouds.

I have a suspicion about what has caused this but would like others to comment. As you can see in the not very clear shot of the trip monitor displayed in the aircraft cabin (I had the presence of mind to photograph it) we are not that far from Geneva at 10,000m elevation.

The times shown are Australian EST because that is what the camera was set to (the date was 2nd Sept 2015 Aus. EST) so subtract 10 hours for GMT.

IMG_3987 IMG_3989
7:24:38 pm                                                               7:27:28 pm

IMG_3990 IMG_3991
7:27:40 pm                                                                7:28:04 pm

IMG_3992 IMG_3994
7:28:46 pm                                                                7:29:44 pm

7:30:26 pm

What do you think it might be?

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Arding Landcare update and “other” things

The good news is that the Arding Landcare Group has survived and will continue it’s work.

Thomas Lagoon (the photo you can see in the header) will continue to be protected and cared for. At the moment it is completely dry but I am sure it will fill again as it has done on and off for millennia.

The other news is that whilst we were away overseas we were given a new Prime Minister whether we wanted it or not! I was not very happy with Tony Abbott because he squibbed making the carbon tax front and centre of the last election campaign but to give his government credit they did scrap the atrocity enacted by the previous mob (it was never going to effect carbon emissions and I have yet to see convincing evidence that it was necessary anyway – ie real data, not the output from questionable computer models).

I fear that the Turnbull government will join the anti-carbon dioxide church and we will all have to suffer the consequences (not least the poor and under privileged).

Just while I’m on “climate change” – I am quite intrigued by the series of posts at Jo Nova’s site by her husband David Evans. If it works out as David claims this MUST have some impact on the honest but fearful scientists and computer modellers unwilling to put their heads above the parapets and hopefully some of them will have the courage to speak out!

Anyway I have done some more work on the wind turbine – not as much as I would have hoped but will have some more to say on this topic very soon.

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This site has been untouched for a long time!

Well a lot of water has passed under the bridge since my last post… we no longer live at Arding – we have moved into town. This is not to say that Arding doesn’t feature in my life anymore. We planted quite a few trees yesterday in the old Arding Recreation Reserve which is probably the last of the major projects completed by the Landcare Group. This is a bit sad but not enough of the new residents seem to care about planting trees or eradicating feral animals. Or the existing members are getting too old or moving away to distant places.

It has taken nearly six months to get settled, what with building a bunch of cupboards in the garage to store all the stuff that I have accumulated over the years and building a shed in the garden I have been pretty busy.

Garage cupboards

Garage cupboards

Shed in the Garden

Shed in the Garden with Thomas


This now means the time has come to turn my mind to the project I have been wanting to get back to for quite some time.

Many years ago I started thinking about how one might produce a more efficient wind generator. In about 2003 whilst sitting in the light of our camping gas lamp in the midst of a blackout my thoughts turned again to this problem.

A few sketches later and a light bulb went on in my head! “That just might work”, I thought. That weekend with some pieces of wood and cardboard cobbled together and the electric fan making a breeze in the lounge room it was clear that it would work.

Since then a number of prototypes have been constructed (but not yet generating electricity). Like many procrastinators I set the project aside from time to time and life went streaming on. Occasionally enthusiasm would resurface and more would be done.

My thoughts turned to patents and how I might introduce the idea to the world. Having worked in the world of innovation previously I understood just how difficult it is to develop a manufacturable product. At my age and time of life did I really want to attempt to start a new business? Probably not.

I went to the trouble of writing a provisional patent for this idea which I registered myself. This happened several times – each time the patent lapsed. Last year I engaged a patent attorney to do the job “properly”. This was a reasonably costly and not very satisfying exercise. The reality hit when it dawned that even after spending 10s of thousands of dollars for a full patent, if a large international company stole the idea, I would have to spend millions defending it. Not an appealing prospect.

So what was it I really wanted to achieve? The money that might be earned by trying to commercialise something like this could potentially be quite substantial, however, at what cost to health, family and friendships? Really, what I wanted was for the world to be able to use the idea and to simply be recognised as the person who first thought of the idea.

By publishing on the World Wide Web the details of how the design works surely it means that no big grubby rip off merchant could patent the idea and stop me and anyone else who wants from making one. Gradually the idea has evolved and that is what will probably happen.

If some folks want to build one of these and give me a small licence fee for the idea that would also probably be a nice touch.

More to follow….


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Sterling Cycle Engines

Even though I am skeptical about CAGW this does not mean that I think we should be complacent about using non-renewable resources like coal and oil. If there are more efficient lower cost methods for driving economies and our lives in the future why not move towards them? I have been intrigued by Stirling Cycle engines for a very long time. Probably since my father told me about them when I was a boy (a long time ago :-)).

I am not ideologically against nuclear power for those who might draw that conclusion from what I have just said. I am however somewhat skeptical about the costs of nuclear power. Have we ever been given the real cost figures for nuclear power generation? Much of what has been built in the past seemed to be for multiple reasons… power generation, strategic arms production, research etc. If someone can give me good data on this I am very open to persuasion (this might be another thread one day). Yes I am aware of Thorium reactors and Pebble Bed reactors.

Stirling Cycle engines have been used in the space program and in various other applications but have never really become a mainstream piece of technology. This surprises me. They can be manufactured to be more efficient than steam engines and without the danger of high pressures that steam requires. In fact that is why the Rev. Stirling invented them – to reduce the deaths that were common in coal mining operations from exploding steam engines. I clearly remember the day that I went into the Science Museum in London and was chatting to one of the friendly curators oiling one of the Steam engines. I asked him about Stirling Cycle engines and he gave me directions to the only example that they had in the museum. What a thrill to be able to see this marvelous little Phillips generator!

One of my other obsessions is with Hydrogen as a fuel. I really do think that this will eventually become the universal fuel. So maybe a good project might be to build a prototype and run it off hydrogen?

We had a 5 hour blackout the other evening – it would be nice to be able to have a bath without using mains power!

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Hello world indeed!

I feel really well this morning… although I am not happy about what has been said on the AM show on the local ABC radio. This is not a new phenomenon as my family will attest.

Greg Combet maintains that “everyone in Australia knows we have to have a carbon tax”. I am not so sure he is right. But then I’m biased – I subscribe to WUWT and obviously am in the dreaded “sceptics” camp… but more on that later. Tony Abbot won’t give a straight answer on whether he would repeal a carbon tax if the coalition won the next election. This lack of transparency doesn’t impress me. Tony Windsor is sitting on the fence with this one at the moment. I am very suspicious of the precautionary principle as applied to climate science Tony W., and as my local member I would like you to read WUWT without prejudice. Skip the odd ratbag comment that one finds on all blogs – you will find many of the commenters are thoughtful and considerate scientists. Please make a firm decision so that I can make a voting choice for the next election. You stated that we won’t know the effect of CO2 emissions in our lifetimes – I disagree. If (as some scientists are predicting) the earth is going into a cooling phase, I predict we will know within the next 5 to 10 years.

Personal responsibility.

This is one of the key thoughts in my mind and has been for a while. Is this the underlying problem of the age? That there are too many people who rely on others to fix things for them. I know I have been in this camp, particularly concerning my health. Having had a triple coronary bypass 15 years ago – it was definitely the doctors that had control of this process and I thank them for it. However, I am now very concerned about taking chemicals in the form of “cholesterol lowering” drugs into my body. They do not make me feel well. I stopped taking them again a couple of weeks ago… who knows for how long?

I have heard Sally Fallon Morell speak on a DVD that someone gave me recently and this has created some doubt in my mind. I grew up drinking fresh milk from a cow milked by my father who lived to 80 years and died of congestive heart failure. Consequently I now have a history of heart disease in my family!

Some of the things Sally Fallon said in that talk resonated strongly in my psyche. Eat natural food. Butter is very good for you (vitamin K2?). Drink lots of milk, eat eggs, and animal fat is not poisonous (like CO2? :-)). This made me think a bit about the whole problem. What worried me most was the accusations she made about how “the science” had been manipulated and distorted. This really resonated with me because I have been reading a lot about climate science lately and I am really concerned about that also.

Arding is one of the most pleasant places in the world to live. It is conducive of thoughtful contemplation of all sorts of issues. I used to think of myself as a problem solver. I like to think I did some of that succesfully in my career working for 30 years at a university. Maybe I’m fooling myself – who knows? Still, one of my sons said; “why don’t you try and make a positive contribution to the debate on some of these issues?” so here goes.

I have been very impressed by the way in which Anthony Watts has generally conducted his blog on Whats Up with That, so I will attempt to use this as the guiding principle for moderating any discussion that might occur here.

In the future I will be talking about outdoor activities, health, working in a Men’s Shed, computers, geocaching, building CNC routing machines, building aeroplanes (electric models and ones for people to fly in), renewable energy, wind generators, time, theories of the nature of energy, matter and the universe, the human condition, religion… all things that interest me and may interest a few others.

Happy Days!

James Reid

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