Tag Archives: Climate change

Updates from Georgia Tech

The Health Informatics Revolution
By John Toon – Using massive data sets, machine learning, and high-performance computing, health analytics and informatics is drawing us closer to the holy grail of health care: precision medicine, which promises diagnosis and treatment tailored to individual patients. The information, including findings from the latest peer-reviewed studies, will arrive on the desktops and mobile devices of clinicians in health care facilities large and small through a new generation of decision-support systems.

“There are massive implications over the coming decade for how informatics will change the way care is delivered, and probably more so for how care is experienced by patients,” said Jon Duke, M.D., director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Health Analytics and Informatics.

“By providing data both behind the scenes and as part of efforts to change behavior, informatics is facilitating our ability to understand patients at smaller population levels. This will allow us to focus our diagnostic paths and treatments much better than we could before.”

Georgia Tech’s health informatics effort combines academic researchers in computing and the biosciences, practitioners familiar with the challenges of the medical community, extension personnel who understand the issues private companies face, and engineers and data scientists with expertise in building and operating secure networks tapping massive databases.

“It takes all of these components to really make a difference in an area as complex as health informatics,” said Margaret Wagner Dahl, Georgia Tech’s associate vice president for information technology and analytics.

“This integrated approach allows us to add value to collaborators as diverse as pharmaceutical companies, health care providers, large private employers, and federal agencies.” more> https://goo.gl/63pIZd

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Updates from GE

By Mark Egan – Called FLNG (floating liquefied natural gas) in industry parlance, the floating facility is on a course to revolutionize the energy industry. Prelude will process natural gas at sea, where it is pumped from underneath the ocean floor — a process that normally takes place on land.

While Prelude is a giant, it’s still much smaller than a land-based plant, which creates special challenges, says Mike Peterson of GE Oil & Gas. His business unit is building and testing a key component for the FLNG facility called the dynamic flexible riser. These high-tech pipes bring the gas up from the seabed before it is cooled to around -160°C (almost double the lowest temperature ever recorded in Antarctica) and turned into liquid.

The risers have been designed to withstand some of the harshest weather and sea conditions imaginable. They are being built and tested in GE’s facility in Newcastle, U.K.

“They are like very fancy garden hoses,” Peterson says. “We build them from layers of metallic and polymer components. Each weighs around 320 tonnes and must be capable of functioning for 25 years through thick and thin.” more> https://goo.gl/meiZsO

Is Clear Thinking Morally Superior?

Many of us think so, a new study finds, and that could explain why arguments over science and faith get so heated.
By Nathan Collins – Our traditional founts of moral wisdom, religious institutions, have not always been the strongest supporters of clear, empirically based thought. Just ask Galileo, Darwin, or pretty much any climate scientist.

“Opinions grounded in moral conviction are different from equally strong but amoral opinions, in that they are perceived as ‘oughts’ rather than as personal preferences, and lead to intolerance towards those that are attitudinally dissimilar,” psychologists Tomas Stahl, Maarten Zaal, and Linda Skitka write in PLoS One. “However, it is not only the morally motivated defenders of traditional beliefs that have been characterized as intolerant in these debates.”

“More specifically,” they continue, “we suggest that people can come to view it as a moral virtue to form and evaluate attitudes and beliefs based on logical reasoning and evidence, and to view it as a vice to rely on less rational processes, an inclination we refer to as moralized rationality.” more> https://goo.gl/g6XgM5

Updates from GE

By Kristin Kloberdanz – The GE Hybrid EGT is the world’s first gas turbine and battery storage hybrid, coupling a 10-megawatt battery with a 50-megawatt (MW) GE LM6000 Gas Turbine. The whole thing is operated by an integrated digital turbine control system.

Under normal conditions, some gas turbines must run at minimum loads in order to provide reserves to the grid. This maintains the reliability of the grid but forces the turbines to run at inefficient minimum loads and burn gas even when they’re not really needed.

The new hybrid system uses excess power from the turbine to charge the battery. The battery then responds quickly to any changes in power demand and allows the gas turbine to operate at a smoother rate. This increases efficiency and reduces maintenance costs.

A hybrid car is a good analogy for the new system. The engine charges the battery when it’s running, and when the engine isn’t really needed, say at a stoplight, it can turn off and let the battery take over. more> https://goo.gl/T74vMg

Deep time’s uncanny future is full of ghostly human traces

By David Farrier – The Anthropocene, or era of the human, denotes how industrial civilisation has changed the Earth in ways that are comparable with deep-time processes.

The planet’s carbon and nitrogen cycles, ocean chemistry and biodiversity – each one the product of millions of years of slow evolution – have been radically and permanently disrupted by human activity.

The development of agriculture 10,000 years ago, and the Industrial Revolution in the middle of the 19th century, have both been proposed as start dates for the Anthropocene.

But a consensus has gathered around the Great Acceleration – the sudden and dramatic jump in consumption that began around 1950, followed by a huge rise in global population, an explosion in the use of plastics, and the collapse of agricultural diversity.

There is also something disturbingly banal about the Anthropocene.

Arguably, it’s in the encounter with everyday objects, surfaces and textures that we get the best sense of its scope and scale. Some 60 billion chickens are killed for human consumption each year; in the future, fossilised chicken bones will be present on every continent as a testimony to the intrusion of human desires in the geological record.

Plastics, which began being mass-produced in the middle of the 20th century, give us back the world as the West has been taught to see it – pliable, immediately available, and smoothed to our advantage. Yet almost every piece of plastic ever made remains in existence in some form, and their chemical traces are increasingly present in our bodies.

Humans created 5 billion gigabytes of digital information in 2003; in 2013 it took only 10 minutes to produce the same amount of data. more> https://goo.gl/q9dRCD

Updates from GE

GE Reports [VIDEO] – In December 2015, 195 countries gathered in Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (known as COP 21 after the 21st Conference of the Parties) and collectively agreed to reduce global emissions in an effort to combat climate change. This agreement is referred to as the Paris Agreement.

GE Reports Perspectives talked to James Cameron, global climate policy expert, Partner in SYSTEMIQ, and GE Ecomagination advisory board member, on how the process works, why it matters to business and what people should know about the next climate talks held in Morocco in November.

  • How does the UN Climate Change Conference process work, and why does it matter?
  • What’s happened since the Paris Agreement was signed last year at the COP 21 meetings?
  • How will businesses be affected by the Paris Agreement at the global and local level? How will it impact industries such as energy?
  • The 2016 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 22) will be held Nov. 7 to 18 in Morocco. What will happen at those meetings, and what should businesses know about it?

more> https://goo.gl/E9X2CX

Updates from GE

2 Largest Steam Turbines Ever Made Are Heading For The English Countryside. Here’s Why.
By Mark Egan – The machine—the largest steam turbine ever built—is longer than an Airbus 380 and taller than the average man. A pair of them, each capable of producing 1,770 megawatts—is now set to cross the English Channel to provide energy for generations.

The turbines are heading from their birthplace in a GE Power factory in Belfort, France, to Somerset, England, where EDF Energy is building Hinkley Point C, Great Britain’s first new nuclear plant in a generation. The plant, which is expected to be complete by 2025, will generate enough low-carbon electricity to power around 6 million homes—or about 7 percent of the U.K.’s power needs. It will also and create 25,000 jobs. The U.K. government approved the £18 billion ($23.8 billion) project yesterday (Sep 15).

Designed to last 60 years, the machine boasts reliability of 99.96 percent, according to Frederic Wiscart, GE Power’s general manager for steam power systems. He says that the machines are so large—their blades alone stretch 75 inches—because of the massive volumes of steam nuclear power plants produce: five times as much as gas-fired plants of the same size. Arabelle turbines are now used in one-third of the world’s nuclear power stations. more> https://goo.gl/OQoX5d

How data will destroy human freedom

BOOK REVIEW

Sapiens, Author: Yuval Noah Harari.
Homo Deus, Author: Yuval Noah Harari.

By David Runciman – Yuval Noah Harari‘s previous book, the global bestseller Sapiens, laid out the last 75,000 years of human history to remind us that there is nothing special or essential about who we are. We are an accident.

Homo sapiens is just one possible way of being human, an evolutionary contingency like every other creature on the planet. That book ended with the thought that the story of homo sapiens could be coming to an end. We are at the height of our power but we may also have reached its limit.

Homo Deus makes good on this thought to explain how our unparalleled ability to control the world around us is turning us into something new.

The evidence of our power is everywhere: we have not simply conquered nature but have also begun to defeat humanity’s own worst enemies. War is increasingly obsolete; famine is rare; disease is on the retreat around the world. We have achieved these triumphs by building ever more complex networks that treat human beings as units of information.

Not all of this is new. The modern state, which has been around for about 400 years, is really just another data-processing machine. The philosopher Thomas Hobbes, writing in 1651, called it an “automaton” (or what we would call a robot). Its robotic quality is the source of its power and also its heartlessness: states don’t have a conscience, which is what allows them sometimes to do the most fearful things.

What’s changed is that there are now processing machines that are far more efficient than states: as Harari points out, governments find it almost impossible to keep up with the pace of technological advance. more> http://goo.gl/dfkc8w

Updates from GE

Mind The Gap: How To Build A Power Plant Fueled By The Sun And CO2
By Mark Egan – In March this year, Doug Hofer, a steam turbine specialist at GE Global Research, designed a prototype of a supercritical CO2 turbine small enough to fit on his desk but powerful enough to generate electricity for 10,000 homes.

Six months later, he’s ready to raise that number fiftyfold. Hofer and his colleagues are using a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to design key new parts for the turbine and boost its output to 500 megawatts (MW), enough to supply a large city with electricity.

Today, you need a locomotive and two rail cars to move even the most advanced turbine in this class. Hofer says his design will fit on a semi-truck.

Unlike traditional steam or gas turbines, the medium turning the blades inside Hofer’s machine is supercritical CO2. The gas, a major climate change culprit, is squeezed to 250 bar pressures—the equivalent of being more 1.5 miles beneath the surface of the ocean— and heated to 700 degrees Celsius—so high that parts glow like charcoal during operation—so that it forms a supercritical fluid and a acquires marvelous new properties. The difference between gas and liquid essentially disappears and makes the turbine “superefficient,” Hofer says. more> http://goo.gl/SQQlZO

Updates from GE

Fortune Magazine List Names GE As A Top World Changer
GE – It took considerable time and investment to boost the efficiency of GE’s gigantic HA gas turbine, affectionately known as “HArriet,” by just a few percent. The company’s scientists used super materials and other technologies borrowed from jet engines to coax every last bit of performance from the machine, and gained the notice of Guinness when it hit 62 percent efficiency.

The efficiency drive also encapsulates what propelled GE to third position on Fortune magazine’s Change the World list. The magazine ranked companies that are tackling the world’s biggest problems for their measurable social impact, business results and degree of innovation.

In the case of HArriet, a 1,000-megawatt power plant using two of the turbines paired with steam turbines, a configuration called combined cycle, could save an estimated $50 million on fuel over 10 years from a 1 percent gain.

Increasing efficiency also makes the already clean turbine – when it burns 3.3 tons of natural gas mixed with air, it results in just 6.3 fluid ounces of pollution, a volume slightly larger than a half-can of soda – even cleaner. more> http://goo.gl/JYfCSE