Earthlings !

Given the extreme simplicity of the universe at the start of the Big Bang, it's friendliness to complex structures such as galaxies, planetary systems and biology is unexpected by any normal model of turbulence driven structuring that science has been able to derive.

Consciousness, the paradox. A perpetual flux of here and now perceived through a mental construct of time. Synchronicities and bizarre phenomena often occur within our field of awareness but we fearfully disregard them.

The universe spontaneously generated, developed self-governing laws and became self-aware through emergent complexity ?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Alimentando al ser auténtico

Por Norberto Simonini

De qué hablamos cuando hablamos de alimentación integral?

Partiendo del núcleo de coincidencias de las tradiciones de sabiduría en oriente y occidente, podemos entendernos como seres humanos, cuando consideramos a nuestros cuerpos físico, emocional, mental y espiritual.

Cada uno de estos cuerpos (que por ejemplo la tradición advaita vedanta llamó anamayakosha, pranamayakosha, manomayakosha, vijnanamayakosha y anandamayakosha), necesita su alimentación específica.  Cuando sólo atendemos las necesidades urgentes de nuestro cuerpo físico, estamos limitando las posibilidades del ser integral, el ser auténtico.

Nuestros cuerpos emocional, mental y espiritual también necesitan ser escuchados en sus específicas necesidades de nutrición, de esta manera vamos a propiciar el desarrollo de nuestras capacidades individuales.

Información, arte, música, meditación, experiencias de estados de consciencia holotrópicos, libros, conciertos, son alimentos para el alma.  Y nuestras almas hambrientas, sedientas de plenitud, conforman este mundo necesitado de seres auténticos que colaboren en su transformación.

A Brief History of Psychedelics

by D. M. Turner

From The Creation Of Gods To The Demise Of Psychedelic Reverence In Modern Times

As prehistoric men and women foraged for food they must have eaten the psychedelic plants which grow in nearly all regions of the world. Ingesting these plants would have produced awe inspiring experiences, and it is quite likely that the origin of ideas about gods, heavens and hells, life after death, etc. began with the ingestion of psychedelic plants.

Try to imagine yourself as a neolithic human, most of your attention given to day-by-day survival, the more complex areas of your brain just beginning to develop. Now ingest say, a handful of psilocybin mushrooms, or the psychedelic root of the African Iboga plant. Imagine what wealth of images and information would now be flowing through your mind! In his recent book, Food Of The Gods, Terence McKenna presents a plausible hypothesis that homo sapiens descended from psychedelic-using hominids. The ability of psychedelics to facilitate development of the human brain is an important part of his theory.

Worship involving psychedelic plants and their use in spiritual pursuits can be traced to the beginnings of recorded history. The major role these plants played in the formation of early religions has been documented by several historians. R. Gordon Wasson has made a strong argument that the inebriating Soma of the ancient Indian Rg Veda was the Amanita muscaria mushroom 1. Other historians have found evidence of psychedelic use in the Eleusian and Dionysian rituals of ancient Greece 2. Other references to psychedelic plants can be found in ancient Buddhist, Hindu, and other far Eastern texts. And in Africa, the use of Iboga was noted by the earliest English explorers of the area.

Psychedelic plants are much more abundant in the New World and to this day play a part in the religions of the Native Americans. When the Spanish invaded what is now known as Mexico and South America they executed psychedelic-using natives, and the religions and healing practices were forced underground. A strong shamanic tradition persisted for centuries. In the United States, only the Native American Church of North America retained legal permission to continue religious use of its psychedelic sacrament, Peyote.

The knowledge of one psychedelic sacrament, the psilocybe mushroom, was all but lost to Europeans for centuries. R. Gordon Wasson began his quest for knowledge about mushrooms in 1927, after he experienced a vast difference in cultural attitude towards mushrooms between himself and his Russian wife. Their research led to the understanding that the majority of westerners are mycophobics, having a fear or loathing of mushrooms. People in many other parts of the world are mycophiles, often being able to distinguish many types of mushrooms by sight, knowing which are edible, and having common names for the different species.

Wasson explored all he could find about mushrooms through folklore, etymology, and references in literature and art. He came upon results completely beyond anything he could have dreamed of: that mushrooms which produce a "divine inebriation" have been used and worshipped in numerous times and in several areas of the world.

Wasson also discovered that an existing "mushroom cult" still continued amongst certain Indians in Mexico, far removed from civilization. In 1955 he managed to get in touch with these Indians and participated in a mushrooms ceremony guided by a 65 year old shamaness, possibly becoming the first white man to eat psilocybin mushrooms in hundreds of years. This story was published in Life magazine, May 13, 1957. It is an excellent article with great pictures and a moving description of Wasson's first mushroom voyage.

Wasson continued exploring the ethnology of mushrooms and other plant sacraments used throughout the world, teaming up with the likes of famous ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes, and Albert Hoffman, the inventor and discoverer of LSD. Through the Fifties and early Sixties the attitudes regarding psychedelics throughout the world were generally positive. Knowledge was confined primarily to the scientific and scholastic communities, with some attention from the art and literary circles. Papers and articles on psychedelics from this time period lack the hysteria, and the connection of drug to sin that media introduced to the public in the mid-Sixties.

Well, what happened during the Sixties, and how did the majority's attitude toward psychedelics get so screwed up? Here's a simple explanation; the U.S. government was afraid of the changes brought about by psychedelic use. They used the physical, financial, and political forces they controlled to spread fear and discredit the virtues of psychedelics.

None of what happened seems too surprising. It fits into the patterns that human minds are frequently seen to operate in. The majority of the population is still the type that resists anything new, any change (neophobic). This mindset is continually reinforced through newspapers, television, government, religions, schools, and the hierarchical structure of society. All of these organizations are dominated by people with neophobic mindsets. Most also possess the Judeo-Christian concepts that: humans are evil, sex is evil, we are beneath Gods, we will be eternally punished if we disobey the rules of the church, or, heaven forbid, take a psychedelic and try to experience an ecstatic state of happiness.

Many of the people reinforcing this mindset are not even aware that they are spreading negativity. They are supporting what they believe is correct. These people, convinced that the old morals are the "right way" of living, have generated outright lies about psychedelics, feeling anything which discourages drug use is justified. Of course, other members of these organizations spread negative information with purely nefarious intentions, such as political groups who instruct the CIA to sell cocaine for financing covert military operations, and then preach that drugs are the tools of the devil on TV.

The establishment's methods of spreading drug paranoia are numerous and use all forms of media. Most of the population gets its information from the neophobically controlled major media sources: television, newspapers, and large magazines. There is also political pressure at all levels to conform to the views of the ruling politicians. Do you think CBS would broadcast an overtly pro-drug commercial even if you paid them well? The government also controls the content of what is taught in schools. What is commonly called "drug education" is better defined as "anti-drug brainwashing." Any positive appraisals of drugs are absent from school course materials. Teachers seldom inform their students that over 99.9% of the people who take ecstasy have a positive experience. A recent psychiatric M.D. graduate from Harvard was not even aware that psychedelics had ever been used in therapy. Psychedelic use in therapy was widespread until LSD was made illegal in 1966, and the results from their use were highly successful. During the past 28 years limited research and therapy using psychedelics has continued, primarily in Switzerland and Germany. (Although in recent years the FDA has agreed to resuming a small number of studies involving human use of psychedelics here in the U.S.)

Much of a psychedelic trip is based on a person's mental set. The negative media on psychedelics causes many people to take these substances with unwarranted fears, thus diminishing the potential of the experience, and probably causing some people to freak out. Someone embarking on a trip with the idea "This substance is an ancient gift of the Gods, it will allow me to gain a new experience of life" will have a different experience than a person with the idea "Someone told me this is fun, but it's illegal and I'm worried about getting busted, and I'm afraid I'll lose control and jump out of a window."

There has always been some accurate information about psychedelics available, but it's been something one's had to search for. Many who have found, understood, and applied this knowledge have benefited immensely. This book was written to spread this information to a larger group of people in hopes of enlightening many on the potentialities of the psychedelic experience, and dispelling some of the misinformation that has previously been disseminated on this topic.

1 See Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality by R. Gordon Wasson.
2 See The Road to Eleusis by Hoffman, Ruck, and Wasson.

A Rationale for Psychoactive Gardening

Rebuilding Our Indigenous Relationship with Plants
by James Neill.

On the Indigeneity of Plants

The world, for humans today, is a sea of anxiety which ultimately only closer connection to nature can quell. Whether you call it karma, thermodynamics, homeostasis, sustainability, or just plain common sense, doesn't really matter. What matters is that our own human nature is intimately interconnected with the nature of our local and global environment. For about 4 million years, humans evolve with a very close relationship between inner consciousness and the rhythm, riches and dangers of nature. As the human-nature connection has transformed and traditional knowledge about the connections lost, modern human society has spiraled out of control.

I have had persistent visions over the years of the streets of civilization being eventually overgrown with plants hundreds of years from now. Perhaps we should re-read John Christopher’s “Day of the Triffids” and “Death of Grass”, just to remind ourselves again of the possible futures for man and plant together - at least if we continue to get it wrong. The plants were here long before us and will be here long after us. They have an enviable wisdom and patience as the original inhabitants, the first forms of life, who have seen it all and worked out how to maintain and transform themselves through evolution. Plants are more indigenous than any human being. And, above all, if we as humans want to survive as a species, we need to nurture our relationship with plants (upon which we are totally dependent for survival, whether nutritionally, economically, or psychologically).

On the Suppression of Psychoactive Plants

Human beings have a long history of being awful to one another, to animals, and to plants. Whether its slavery, wars, hunting, farming, clearing forests, or banning the growth and use of plants such as Poppy, Cannabis Sativa and Salvia Divinorum (the three illegal plants in Australia). This is akin to jailing and massacring indigenous people. To "lock away" certain plants from access to society is to cut off our nose to spite our face. Clearly many people want to explore their relationship with such plants, and continue to do so illegally. People who wish to explore their relationship with plants are marginalized and by law punishable variously through death, jail or fine. Yet the viewpoint that such plants are evil and damaging is largely propaganda.

Instead, we need to create places on earth where people, animals, and plants can exist in freedom, unity, and harmony. All plants in indigenous life had uses and applications, whether for their strength, nutrition, medicinal or psychoactive properties. Plants were used wisely and effectively. The problem is that we've largely lost the positive cultures into which the use of such plants were embedded. Our culture, if we are to survive, needs to rediscover a more holistic relationship nature, starting with plants, and one in we understand plants not only for their physical properties (e.g., aesthetics of flowers, wood for building), medicinally (e.g., for healing), but also psychologically (e.g., for exploring consciousness). I imagine a place in which all plants belong and humans have positive relationships for exploration of mutual power and potential.

Personal, Indigenous Farming of Psychoactive Plants

We need to develop an intimate relationship with plants throughout their life cycle, whatever one's form of plant usage - vegetables, fruit, trees for wood, and plants for medical and psychological uses. Ultimately, we all consume and use many plants, although these days we grow very few ourselves. The disconnection from growing for one's consumption, whether plant or animal, is a dangerous trait of industrial societies. It opens up an experiential gap which allows for poor decisions to made about the management of the natural environment.

Ironically, due to the illegal nature of psychoactive plants, personal farming of psychoactive is now becoming more common, because of the market scarcity and unpredictability. This also happened during the period of alcohol prohibition in the United States. People rediscovered how to brew alcohol themselves. By growing for one's own needs, one becomes an indigenous person, tending to the earth and cooperating with it to provide for one's own needs. Each person should aim to grow through their lifetime at least the amount of food, wood, and medical/psychological plants as he/she consumes. It is a simple necessity for collective survival, but we have become divorced from understanding and tending to the growth of plants, although we continue happy to consume to the detriment of future sustainability.

It is important to understand that where there is genuine, mature, sustainable exploration of the psychoactive properties of plants, the user will generally evolve to having a relationship with the whole lifecycle of the plant, and not simply the gratuitous point of consumption. We must be careful not to simply consume a plant without respect and understanding about how it grows, where it comes from, and the nature of its uses and effects.

Each plant species has properties in common with its genetic lineage that can be explored, mapped and understood. By engaging in an evolving relationship with plants, we discover that we can become so much more with so much less. By taking personal responsibility for contributing as much as we consume, we live indigenously and 'righteously'. Psychoactive plants have an important place in helping human society to evolve and mature. In the future psychoactive plants will have their place one way or another, hopefully used in far more rich, mature and safe ways than that reckless recreational usage of powerful chemicals and draconian, fear-based government prohibitive policies.

Intimate knowledge of psychoactive plants was traditionally held by shamans -- and the role of shamans, though no longer central in Western communities, is still vital. Shamans acquired and developed holistic knowledge about access to altered states of consciousness. Then the shaman helped society to access states of consciousness for their own benefit, whether for healing, celebration, vision-searching, problem solving, and so on. The shaman developed, among things, intimate knowledge of the plant’s life cycles and plant's personalities (aka plant-ality). Indigenous relationships with plants are essential for a sustainable society. It is not well understood today that for effective use of psychoactive plants, one should either be either under the guidance of a shaman or at least be actively pursuing a holistic relationship with the full cycle of each plants.

Some food quotes...

"Let thy food be thy medicine" - Hippocrates

"In the matter of treatment, the big mistake of physicians in our time is to separate the soul from the body" – Plato

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet" - A. Einstein

"I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men" - Da Vinci

Culture is your operating system

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Can Nuclear Power be Green ?

Can Nuclear Power really be Green?
Patrick Arnesen, Vancouver BC, July 2009

Environmentalists dismiss Nuclear power as a dirty, dangerous and expensive technology that's incompatible with a green future. In fact many organizations such as Greanpeace dismiss it outright as a green power solution. However if you look at their arguments you'll notice that when they use the term "Nuclear Power" they are really referring the technology behind today's conventional fission reactors. I believe that many environmentalists are arguing from ignorance. They are simply not aware of the other available forms of nuclear power such as Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTR), which offer solutions to virtually all of the problems put forward as arguments against nuclear power. This is a terrible shame. By not distinguishing between conventional nuclear technology and other options such as LFTR, environmentalists are campaigning against the very technology that could most readily bring about the green future they long for.

I believe that LFTR offers the greenest available power solution. It's greener than solar and it's greener than wind. Here's why: To properly compare LFTR to wind and solar, you need to look at the full impact of converting our energy industry over from today's oil, coal and natural gas infrastructure to the new technology. You can't just look at a single windmill or a power station and weigh the pros and cons. You have to consider the whole infrastructure you need to build up around it. When you do that, LFTR wins.

Grid Comparison

Lets begin by considering what a mature LFTR and a mature wind/solar power grid would look like. A LFTR based power grid would be a simple affair. Most of the reactors would be in the 50 to 200 MW power output range and could be located close to where power is needed such as towns and factories. LFTRS can increase or decrease power in real time to meet changing demand, so that they can reliably handle peak demand periods. On a hot summer day when thousands of buildings turn on their air conditioners, LFTRS can be counted on to deliver the power.

In contrast wind and solar power suffers from two major logistical obstacles: The power output can't be controlled (it gets dark at night or when it's cloudy, and sometimes the wind dies down), and the best available sources of power are often far from where they're needed. To collect as much power as possible when it's available, and to overcome clouds and calm days, you would need to build many more windmills and solar stations than you would need if they reliably produced their rated output. To deliver power at night when the sun goes down you would need to build massive power storage stations; and to get the power from where it's made to where it's needed, you would need to completely rebuild the world's power-lines at enormous expense. To recap, a solar and wind future is not just about the windmills and solar cells, you need to factor in the environmental costs of power buffering and transportation as well.

Construction Impact

To produce 1GW of power, enough for a small city, you would need to build perhaps 3 to 4GW of wind and solar power, possibly dozens of GWH of storage capacity, and perhaps 500 miles of new power-lines and upgrades. Because of their inherent safety and because they operate at atmospheric pressure, LFTRs do not need massive pressure vessels and containment walls like conventional reactors do. Also the because they operate at much higher temperatures, they can drive air turbines, which are far smaller and lighter than steam turbines. Thus a 1GW LFTR would require far less construction material than a conventional reactor. On the other hand the wind and solar option would use at least 4 to 5 times as much material as a LFTR (and probably a lot more).

Every ton of steel or aluminum means digging up hundreds of tons of ore. It must be smelted, purified, alloyed, rolled and transported, all at great environmental cost - and that's just the metal. You'd also need to factor in the impact of concrete, aluminum, copper, carbon fiber, plastic, fiberglass, electronics, assembly... the list goes on. Finally consider that to replace today's dirty power production, increase the world's output enough to electrify our cars, ships, trucks, planes and trains, and meet the demand of billions more people, we'd need to build the equivalent of thousands of 1GW plants!

Operational Impact

For both options the largest costs and environmental impacts are incurred during the construction phase. Once built, both technologies run with relatively little environmental impact. On the operational side I think that it's unclear which technology is more harmful to the environment, but given that the construction impacts are so much higher, the debate on operational impact is reduced to insignificance. To justify this point of view, I'll quickly summarize the operational impacts of both options.

With solar power we'll need to dedicate millions of hectares of land from what could otherwise serve as natural areas. There could also be some environmental cost to the massive buffering stations if they need to boil water to make steam.

Putting up enough wind power to run the world could have an impact on birds. These impacts may be somewhat lessened by carefully studying their migratory patterns and building windmills where birds are less likely to fly into them, but this may have the adverse affect of forcing us to avoid the most ideal sites. We would then need to build even more windmills and bear the impact of their construction to make up for the shortfall.

Like wind and solar, LFTRs don't consume any water to make steam, and they don't produce any emissions. Their environmental impact would mostly stem from mining thorium. However the amount of mining needed is surprisingly small. A 1GW city sized reactor LFTR would only need about 1 ton of fuel per year, extracted from about 200 tons of ore (this is a completely trivial amount next to the hundreds of thousands of tons of ore needed by traditional nuclear reactors, and the millions of tons of ore needed to fuel a 1GW coal plant for a year).

The environmental impact of the nuclear waste produced by a LFTR reactor should be zero. The waste would never be released into the biosphere and would be so minimal that it could easily be dealt with safely. Because it's so efficient, 1GW LFTR would only produce about 1 ton of radioactive waste per year. The reactor would produce virtually none of the dangerous transuranic waste produced by conventional reactors, and which lasts for thousands of years. Instead, transuranics remain in the reactor core and are themselves consumed as fuel (hence the high efficiency). What's left are much lighter fission products. Most of them lose their radioactivity within the first 10 years of storage and could then be safely recycled. The remaining waste (less than 1/3 ton) would remain radioactive for less than 500 years. It could be safely encased in glass and stored in secure locations until they cool down to safe levels. Thus the amounts of radioactive waste produced during operation, and the mining needed for fuel is tiny - 6 rail cars of fuel would be more than enough to power all of North America for a year! As an added bonus, LFTRs can also burn much of the radioactive waste that has already been produced by contemporary reactors.

At the end of its lifetime, a LFTR reactor would need to be decommissioned. This would again incur an environmental cost. The reactor core (radioactive from decades of neutron bombardment) would need to be safely allowed to cool for a few decades, and all the construction materials recycled. However windmills and solar plants and power storage stations also have limited lifespans and would need decommissioning.


Both LFTR and Wind/Solar power incur the vast majority of their environmental costs during their construction phases. Given that LFTRs require far less construction material, labor and land to build and deploy, their overall environmental impact should be much smaller. LFTR would not only be the cheapest and most dependable energy source available, it would also be the greenest.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Permaculture Food Forest

The Brookman family is setting the example

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Science of Miracles - Gregg Braden

Three experiments with paradigm shift potential

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mushrooms can save the world

The magic of mycelium by Paul Stamets

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Solar water distiller - Daniel Simon

Home Made Solar Water Distiller

A few years ago a storm flooded the local water treatment facility leaving me and all my neighbors without water for several weeks. Partially motivated by this I designed a portable solar powered water distiller. The idea is that a person adds water from any source (assumed to be dirty, salty or otherwise unfit for drinking) in one side and over the course of the day gets clean safe drinking water out the other side.

At the heart of this design is an innovative method for forming a medium size parabolic mirror using a flexible aluminized mylar sheet (the shiny metallic foil commonly used to make potato chip bags/decorative balloons). I built an aluminum frame, using 1 inch wide by 1/8 inch thick strips, that runs around the edge of the mirror and use a pair of wires at either end to draw the frame up into a parabola. The mirror is actually sandwiched between an upper frame and a lower frame. This mylar sheet, frame and wire construction makes a good parabola, is inexpensive, lightweight, and can be easily assembled/disassembled.

The aluminum frame is much stronger than necessary (& more expensive) and could easily be made out of a cheap local material like wood or plastic. The function of the frame is to 1) hold/capture the mylar sheet, and 2) provide some stiffness so the wire stays taught. The wire length determines how steep or shallow the parabola is, which in turn determines how close/far the focus of the mirror is from the mirror surface. The mirror is cheap (a few dollars) and ideally the frame should only cost a few more, altogether I’d guess it should cost under $10 to make the mirrors in any serious volume (maybe $10-$15 in moderate volume). I say should, because I’m still working with a prototype, and a custom job costs at least 10 times what I think the cost should be… Still I imagine a big cheap mirror can be useful in any number of solar applications besides water purification.

The mirror is placed under an evaporation chamber where the water is purified. The evaporation chamber has an aluminum pan (painted black to absorb the sunlight/heat) into which I add a trickle of ‘dirty’ water which is heated until it evaporates. This pan has a clear plastic cover which captures and condenses the water vapor as well as an interior lip that channels this pure/condensed water out of the distiller. The two piece evaporation chamber can be taken apart for cleaning or storage. At the moment the parabolic mirror needs to be adjusted by hand each hour to keep the sunlight focused on the pan, although this ‘tracking’ could be automated fairly simply by adding a small motor.

In the interest of keeping the device portable, I’ve only used a 2 square meter mirror which distills ~ 1 gallon of water/day. I’m working to boost the treated volume by a factor of two with additional design improvements—in theory a mirror this size could distill 4 gallons/day. I could also increase the distilled water production volume by using a larger mirror, doubling the mirror would double the production, although it would be that much harder to transport. The device weighs about 40 lbs, and the mirror can be rolled up like a poster.

In fact my big problem at this time is that I’m collecting too much sunlight/heat onto the pan and the plastic cover gets so hot (60-70 degrees C) that the water vapor doesn’t condense as well as it should. The little metal fins at the top of the distiller are designed to help remove heat from the condensing cover. For scale, the mirror is 6 ft. x 4 ft. and the evaporation chamber is roughly 3 feet off the ground.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


A documentary by Ben Stewart

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Symphony of Science

A masterpiece by John Boswell

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Biotecture is here to stay

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

STUDY: Electric vehicles from coal beat oil in CO2 emissions

by Xavier Navarro

A common attack on electric vehicles is to claim that all Americans switching their cars from gasoline to electric would be counterproductive in the effort to reduce carbon emissions. The reason is that we'd simply need more polluting coal plants pumping out more carbon dioxide and get collapsed electric grids as a result. Well, we know there are emerging solutions to the grid problem but how about calculating the actual carbon numbers that result from gasoline vs. electricity from coal?

Dvice has gone and done just this, and found that, when it comes to CO2, electricity sourced from coal has a 60 percent lower impact than gasoline. Of course, this equation doesn't take in consideration other pollutants that result from burning either fuel.

Let's take our calculators out and check Dvice's numbers: Americans have 250 million cars. Supposing each of these cars could be fitted to a 25 kWh battery (the Tesla Roadster holds 53 kWh, the Chevy Volt will use a 16 kWh pack) and that we can drive 2 or 3 miles per kWh. Assuming that all these cars are used at current average levels (something the source doesn't exactly specify), this translates into 100 charge cycles per year. Total electricity bill: 600 billion kWh per year, and that's just 15 percent of current production (about 4 trillion kWh).

Now, onto the carbon figures: Every kWh from a coal plant produces two pounds of CO2, so we're talking 1.2 trillion pounds of CO2. The U.S. burned 3.3 billion barrels of gasoline in 2008, and a single gallon becomes 20 pounds of CO2 at the exhaust pipe, which turns out to be which about 3 trillion pounds of CO2. Ergo, coal emits 60 percent less.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cradle to Cradle protocol

Where waste equals food

Friday, July 31, 2009

Geothermal Heats Up

With $350M New Stimulus Funding from Government
Posted on 02. Jun, 2009 by Chris de Morsella in Geothermal Energy

The Obama administration has announced $350 million in stimulus funds to help expand geothermal resources and break down technological barriers that stand in the way of its development. This is a huge jump in funding, dwarfing all previous government commitments and is more than all the funding for geothermal energy put together over the last 20 years. It also represents a dramatic reversal of previous trends of diminishing funding for this often overlooked renewable energy sector.

“We have a choice. We can remain the world’s leading importer of oil, or we can become the world’s leading exporter of clean energy,” said President Obama announcing the new funding. “We can hand over the jobs of the future to our competitors, or we can confront what they have already recognized as the great opportunity of our time: the nation that leads the world in creating new sources of clean energy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy. That’s the nation I want America to be.”

“We have an ambitious agenda to put millions of people to work by investing in clean energy technology like solar and geothermal energy,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. “These technologies represent two pieces of a broad energy portfolio that will help us aggressively fight climate change and renew our position as a global leader in clean energy jobs.”

What is Geothermal Energy and What Makes it so Important?

Geothermal energy is a source of renewable energy that harnesses heat from the Earth to provide heating for buildings and for electricity generation. A recent MIT study has estimated that the US has somewhere around 100 gigawatts or more of geothermal energy capacity that could be developed with a reasonable investment in this sector.

This is important not only because it would represents a significant contribution to the overall electric energy generating capacity mix, but also because geothermal energy is a highly predictable energy source. In fact, geothermal plants can operate around the clock and provide uninterrupted “base load” electricity. Base load capacity is the minimum amount of power a utility must provide to its customers. Unlike wind or solar energy, which are subject to variable output depending on weather conditions geothermal energy plants will be able to provide reliable power onto the grid regardless of current weather conditions or time of day. The ability to provide “base load” capacity is a critically important quality and one that distinguishes geothermal energy from other renewable sources such as wind or solar. In this regard geothermal energy is like the large coal or nuclear fired thermal electric plants; it provides a steady flow of energy onto the grid.

To explore a different form of geothermal technology called geothermal heat pumps that uses the ground below us to heat and cool our buildings and provide hot water while using much less energy to do so, see our post: Geothermal Heat Pumps: Good for the Bottom Line, Good for the Nation and Good for the Earth

Recovery Act Funding Will Support Projects in Four Crucial Areas

These are: geothermal demonstration projects; Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) research and development; innovative exploration techniques; and a National Geothermal Data System, Resource Assessment and Classification System.

Geothermal Demonstration Projects will receive $140 Million to support demonstration projects that profile new technologies that enable geothermal energy development in new geographic areas, as well as geothermal energy production from oil and natural gas fields, geopressured fields, and low to moderate temperature geothermal resources.

Enhanced Geothermal Systems Technology Research and Development will receive $80 Million in funding to support research of EGS technology to allow geothermal power generation across much of the country. Conventional geothermal energy systems must be located near easily-accessible geothermal water resources that only exist in a few regions (mostly in the Western States) of the country. EGS makes use of available heat resources that can be found everywhere if one drills far enough down. It proposes to create engineered reservoirs – in suitable rock formations that have a suitable cap rock over the engineered reservoir. These engineered geothermal reservoirs can then be tapped to produce electricity. This is a long term project that many believe holds promise to eventually generate cost competitive clean electricity. The funding is designed to promote enabling research and development that will be required in order to demonstrate the EGS technology.

Innovative Exploration Techniques is slated to get $100 Million in funding to support projects that include exploration, siting, drilling, and characterization of a series of exploration wells utilizing innovative exploration techniques. The upfront exploration costs inherent in geothermal energy projects are one of the principle blocking factors to increased investment and development in this sector. The DOE hopes to help develop and validate new innovative exploration technologies and methods that can help reduce this level of upfront risk and investment in green field projects and in this manner promoting the discovery and development of geothermal resources.

National Geothermal Data System, Resource Assessment, and Classification System will receive $30 Million of funding, which will fund a nationwide assessment of geothermal resources, working through the USGS and other partners; establish a national geothermal data system to make resource data available to academia, researchers, and the private sector and develop a geothermal resource classification system for use in determining site potential. Building a detailed database and characterization of geothermal energy resources nationwide is important for the long term success of geothermal energy.


Geothermal energy certainly has a lot of potential and could become a very important part of our future energy mix. This will be especially true if enhanced geothermal systems technology proves feasible and engineered geothermal reservoirs can be created very close to the large urban power markets. In this case EGS geothermal energy could become the single most important energy supplier of both electricity and co-generated heat resources for much of the nation. It would have the advantage of being able to be sited close to where power was needed, to be able to deliver heat as well as electricity and as with all geothermal resources it would contribute to the base load generating capacity that is so critical to the grid’s functionality.

It is no over statement to say that geothermal energy will be around as long as Earth has a molten core – and that is a very long time. It is essentially renewable and inexhaustible, although fields can become temporarily discharged if over-exploited.

So what’s not to like? One thing that is missing from the funding is any funding for technology or processes that make geothermal energy cleaner. In fact many hot steam geothermal resources and the plants that exploit them are a source of a fair bit of air pollution including hydrogen sulfide emissions. Geothermal energy will need to solve its own emission problems if it truly wants to wear the green mantle that it otherwise truly does deserve.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Good for the Bottom Line, Good for the Nation and Good for the Earth
Posted on 01. Jun, 2009 by Chris de Morsella in Geothermal Energy

Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs), also known as ground-source heat pumps, are similar to ordinary heat pumps, but use the thermally stable mass of the earth below the ground instead of outside air to provide heating, air conditioning and, in most cases hot water as well. Because these systems use the earth’s natural reservoir of stable temperatures, they are among the most efficient and comfortable heating and cooling technologies around. GHPs can save substantial amounts of energy and significantly reduce peak demand in buildings that incorporate them.

Geothermal Heat Pumps Can Save Lots of Energy

ENERGY STAR qualified geothermal heat pumps use about 30% to 40% less energy than a standard heat pump and are also quieter than conventional systems. Approximately 70% of the energy used in a geothermal heat pump system is renewable energy from the ground. The earth’s constant temperature is what provides this renewable “source” of energy. Below a relatively thin layer of ground the temperature of the earth remains very stable changing very little even when air temperatures swing between freezing winter cold and blistering summer heat. This stability is exploited by GHPs using only a relatively small amount of energy to pump air through the earth source loop and then through the building heat exchange. Ground sourced heat pumps draw in heat during the winter and “coolnes” in the summer. They are one of the most efficient, comfortable, and quiet heating and cooling technologies available today.

When GHPs are equipped with a device called a desuperheater they can also be used to heat household water, which is circulated back into the regular water heater tank. Systems that are equipped with a desuperheater can provide for all of the household hot water needs during the summer months and about half of the hot water heating needs during the winter months.

According to a recent DOE report on geothermal heat pumps Geothermal (Ground-Source) Heat Pumps: Market Status, Barriers to Adoption, and Actions to Overcome Barriers, produced by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the Department of Energy and published in December 2008, GHP’s have the potential to help our nation address our future energy security challenges through saving vast amounts of energy and avoiding the need for massive quantities of new capacity.

“If the federal government set a goal for the U.S. buildings sector to use no more nonrenewable primary energy in 2030 than it did in 2008, based on previous analyses (updated and summarized in this report), it is estimated that 35 to 40 percent of this goal, or a savings of 3.4 to 3.9 quads annually, could be achieved through aggressive deployment of GHPs.”

“GHPs could also avoid the need to build 91 to 105 GW of electricity generation capacity, or 42 to 48 percent of the 218 GW of net new capacity additions projected to be needed nationwide by 2030. In addition, $33 to 38 billion annually in reduced utility bills (at 2006 rates) could be achieved through aggressive deployment of GHPs.”

Think about this last figure… 91 to 105 GW of new power plant capacity can be avoided by aggressively pursuing earth sourced heat pumps. That is staggering figures… imagine 100 large thermal electric power plants each delivering enough electricity to power a medium sized city. Translating the energy savings figure from quads into a more graphic equivalent will stagger the mind… That is like saving somewhere around 30 billion… yes billion… gallons of gasoline per year; or to look at it another way 120 to 140 million tons of coal per year.

These massive energy savings are made possible because GHPs exploit the fact that the ground is always cooler during the summer and always warmer during the winter. According to the American Physical Society’s report How America can look within to achieve energy security and reduce global warming, “Today’s GHPs move 3 – 5 times as much energy between the building and the ground than they consume while doing so. If there were sufficient motivation, the GHP industry could integrate the most advanced commercially available components into their heat pumps and increase this multiplier effect to 6 – 8, and theoretically the multiplier could be as high as 14.”

The US Has Fallen Behind Other Nations, but May Be Positioning Itself for Rapid Growth in this Sector

The US used to lead the world in this technology, but as in so many areas of renewable technology we have fallen behind other nations in Europe and Asia that have pursued this eminently practical energy saving technology more effectively than has our own country. America still leads the world in terms of its total installed base of geothermal units, but has been losing ground in terms of annual number of new units installed.

Tax credits for home and business owners investing in GHP systems were enacted in October 2008 through 2016. The government is offering a 30% tax credit with no upper limit to promote various renewable energy and energy efficiency property improvements on new or used construction. This very generous tax credit extends to geothermal heat pumps. For more information on these tax credits see the Energy Star information page: Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency In addition to this federal program a growing number of states are also offering their own incentives to install geothermal heat pumps into existing and new construction.

One of the main impediments for growth in the number of GHP installations according to the report on GHP by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is in their words, “The primary GHP market failure is the expectation that building owners finance the ―GHP infrastructure, or outside-the-building portion of the GHP system, such as the ground heat exchanger. GHP infrastructure will outlive the building and many generations of heat pumps, and is akin to utility infrastructure (poles and wires, underground natural gas piping). This begs the question ─ why do we expect building owners to finance GHP infrastructure, but not other utility infrastructure? The outside portion of the GHP system can be half or more of the overall GHP system cost, and if this cost is excluded, GHP systems have about the same price as competitive alternatives and could cost less in volume production.”

How Much Do Geothermal Heat Pumps Cost Up Front and How Long Before They Pay for Themselves

As a general rule of thumb GHP units cost around twice what conventional heating and cooling cost. The cost of drilling the ground source loop needs to be added to this total amount. The cost of installing the ground source loop depends on whether the ground source loop is a vertically oriented one drilled deep underground or will be installed in a horizontal manner a short distance below ground, but over a wide area. By far the largest upfront cost of GHP systems is in fact the cost of drilling or conversely the cost of digging up a relatively large area of ground to bury the loop if it is in a horizontal orientation. The drilling cost can run anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000, or more depending on the terrain and other local factors.

An efficient geothermal system saves enough on utility bills that the initial investment can be recouped in five to ten years. The underground piping used in the system is often guaranteed to last 25 to 50 years and is virtually worry-free.

Geothermal Heat Pumps Are the Low Hanging Fruit of Renewable Energy

Buildings are built on the ground below; the only exception I can think of is over the water structures such as on piers or floating structures such as house boats. Furthermore in almost all cases the ground is cooler than outdoor air in summer and warmer in winter. Geothermal heat pumps exploit this energy gradient, which is the thermal stability of the earth, to provide the only renewable energy resource that is available at every building’s point of use.

GHP sourced heating and cooling energy is always available on-demand unlike other renewable energy sources such as solar or wind that are subject to weather and may not always be available. It is a renewable energy source that cannot be depleted, assuming the GHP system is properly designed and is one that is potentially affordable across the nation.

GHPs may be among the most affordable and widely deployable renewable energy resources available, especially if the investments in electrical transmission, storage etc. that will be necessary to deliver many of the best wind, solar, and geothermal power generation resources to market are factored in to the costing equations.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Raw Food


The human race learned long ago that cooking meat before eating it would protect them from certain diseases. Since then this practice of cooking has grown to include all types of foods and is now considered an art. Very few meals are eaten which include raw elements, except for the leafy green salad.
One advantage of eating raw is that it brings Nature’s intentions into focus. When I speak of eating raw I am referring to fruit, nuts, and vegetables, which taste good to the majority of humankind in their basic simplicity direct from tree, bush or vine.

I realize it isn’t easy to simply abandon thousands of years of tradition and revert back to 100% raw food. Margaret Mead once said, “It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.” So to the point, there are 10 advantages to a diet of fresh, whole raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts, which may lead you to find a greater place for them in your diet.

1. Raw foods are better quality, therefore you eat less to satisfy your nutritional needs. The heat of cooking depletes vitamins, damages proteins and fats, and destroys enzymes which benefit digestion. As your percentage of raw foods increases you feel satisfied and have more energy on smaller meals because raw food has the best balance of water, nutrients, and fiber to meet your body’s needs.

2. Raw foods have more flavor than cooked foods so there is no need to add salt, sugar, spices, or other condiments that can irritate your digestion system or over stimulate other organs.

3. Raw foods take very little preparation so you spend less time in the kitchen. Even a child of 5 or 6 can prepare most items for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This gives children a sense of self-esteem and independence, not to mention the break it gives Mom or Dad.

4. When you are eating raw there’s little chance of burns, unless you’re in the middle of a forest fire or out in the sun too long. Just think! No burns to tongues, the roof of your mouth, or fingers, and many fewer house fires.
5. Cleaning up after a raw meal is a snap. No baked-on oils or crusty messes. And any inedible parts go directly to the compost pile.

6. Eating a diet of raw foods can reverse or stop the advance of many chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Remember, cooking creates free radicals, which are the major cause of cancer. When you lower the number of free radicals your cells are bombarded with, you lower your risk of cancer.

7. A raw food diet can protect you from acute diseases such as colds, flu, measles, etc. Raw foods maintain a healthy body and a healthy body will not become diseased.

8. As long as you combine raw food properly according to the rules of Natural Hygiene, you will soon reach a level where you no longer suffer from heartburn, gas, indigestion or constipation.

9. It is environmentally sound. With humanity on a diet of raw foods, the food industry would close up shop and take up organic gardening. This would save us enormous amounts of natural resources used to produce power for these industries. Nuclear power would be clearly unnecessary. And think of how many trees and oil reserves could be saved without the need for the paper and plastics used in packaging our processed foods. There would also be less carbon dioxide released in to the atmosphere when all the cooking stopped and more oxygen produced from all the new orchards and gardens, thus helping to reverse the Greenhouse Effect.

10. Eating raw saves you money on food, vitamins, pots and pans, appliances, doctor bills, drugs, and health insurance.

So don’t waste your food, yourself, and our planet by cooking what you eat. Fruits, nuts, and vegetables which are whole, fresh and raw are brimming with life and have the ability to transmit their life force directly to you.

Susan Jorg, Estacada, OR

Friday, May 15, 2009

Future by Design

A documentary by Jacques Fresco

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Culture is your operating system

Terence Mckenna's view on culture & psychedelics

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Introduction to Permaculture

"Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and perennial agricultural systems that mimic the relationships found in the natural ecologies. It was first developed by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren and their associates during the 1970s in a series of publications. The word permaculture is a portmanteau of permanent agriculture, as well as permanent culture."
- From Wikipedia

Permaculture Principles :

Observe and interact
Catch and store energy
Obtain a yield
Apply self-regulation and accept feedback
Use and value renewable resources and services
Produce no waste
Design from patterns to details
Integrate rather than segregate
Use small and slow solutions
Use and value diversity
Use edges and value the marginal
Creatively use and respond to change

Watch this beautiful documentary by Bill Mollison, the Father of Permaculture :

Seed balls

Short documentary on Masanobu Fukuoka's seed balls

Geoff Lawton vs The desert

Short documentary on Geoff Lawton's fight against the desert in Jordan

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

George Carlin vs Saving the planet

A homage to a great stand-up comedian who has passed away, George Carlin

Monday, August 11, 2008

The missing secrets of Nikola Tesla

An episode from the TV series "Phenomenon" telling the story and genius of Nicola Tesla.

Ahead of his time and considered by many a mad scientist, he was the most advanced inventor and discoverer of the 19th century.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The mystery of water

Dr. Masaru Emoto from Japan, proposes that intent affects water, more precisely its crystalizaton. He actually takes a picture of that !

Here's a link to Emoto's website, and another link if you want to buy his book, "The Hidden Messages in Water".

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The pleasure of finding things out

A beutifully inspiring interview with leading physicist Richard Feynman

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Double slit experiment for dummies

May be childish in style, but it doesn't get any clearer than this !

The conclusion of all this is that there is no experiment that can tell us what the electrons are doing at the slits that does not also destroy the interference pattern. This seems to imply that there is no answer to the question of what is going on at the slits when we see the interference pattern. The path of the electron from the electron gun to the screen is not knowable when we see the interference pattern.

"The path [of the electron] comes into existence only when we observe it." -Heisenberg.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

What does locality mean ?

Locality simply means that every interaction must occur in space-time, meaning that to get from A to B, one needs to cover the distance/time needed to interact with the other particle, no jumps or instantaneous action at a distance are allowed.

In quantum physics the concept of non-locality is introduced to describe some of the strangest particle interactions occuring in our inner universe. Photons, electrons, and many other sub-atomic particles, seem to interact non-locally on a regular basis. This phenomenon, obviously controversial and with enormous paradigm shift potential, is now at least accepted by 60% of modern quantum physicists.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Notable Quotes on Quantum Physics

Although he agreed it worked perfectly, Einstein was never happy with quantum theory because it denied a reality of things when they were not being observed.

[I can't accept quantum mechanics because] "I like to think the moon is there even if I am not looking at it."
- Albert Einstein

"The atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts."
- Werner Heisenberg

But Heisenberg went on to insist that these philosophical issues raised by quantum mechanics applied to the big as well as the small :
"Whether we electrons, light quanta, benzol molecules, or stones, we shall always come up against these two characteristics, the corpuscular and the undular." (Emphasis added.)
-Werner Heisenberg

"Anyone not shocked by quantum mechanics has not yet understood it."
- Niels Bohr

"Observations not only disturb what is to be measured, they produce it."
- Pascual Jordan

"When the province of physical theory was extended to encompass microscopic phenomena through the creation of quantum mechanics, the concept of consciousness came to the fore again. It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness."
- Eugene Wigner

"The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment."
- Bernard d'Espagnat

"Nobody understands quantum mechanics."
- Richard Feynman

"Is it not good to know what follows from what, even if it is not necessary FAPP? [FAPP is Bell's disparaging abbreviation of "for all practical purposes."] Suppose for example that quantum mechanics were found to resist precise formulation. Suppose that when formulation beyond FAPP is attempted, we find an unmovable finger obstinately pointing outside the subject, to the mind of the observer, to the Hindu scriptures, to God, or even only Gravitation? Would that not be very, very interesting?"
- John Bell

"In the beginning there were only probabilities. The universe could only come into existence if someone observed it. It does not matter that the observers turned up several billion years later. The universe exists because we are aware of it."
- Martin Rees