Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Nikola Tesla's 'Black Magic' Touring Car

Open Access Article Originally Published: July 11, 2006

By EV World

Did Nikola Tesla really run a touring sedan on free energy?

"In the summer of 1931, Nikola Tesla, the inventor of alternating current and the holder of some 1200 other U.S. patents, along with his nephew Peter Savo, installed a box on the front seat of a brand new Pierce-Arrow touring car at the company factory in Buffalo, New York. The box is said to have been 24 inches long, 12 inches wide and 6 inches high. Out of it protruded a 1.8 meter long antenna and two ¼ inch metal rods. Inside the box was reputed to be some dozen vacuum tubes -- 70-L-7 type -- and other electrical parts. Two wire leads ran from the box to a newly-installed 40 inch long, 30 inch diameter AC motor that replaced the gasoline engine.

PHOTO CAPTION: 1931 Pierce-Arrow touring car similar to the one alleged to have been converted by Nikola Tesla and his nephew to run on some unknown form of energy. Tesla is said to have sold his alternating current patents to Westinghouse for $15 million, but by his death in 1943, he was penniless.

As the story goes, Tesla inserted the two metal rods and announced confidently, "We now have power" and then proceeded to drive the car for a week, "often at speeds of up to 90 mph." One account says the motor developed 1,800 rpm and got fairly hot when operating, requiring a cooling fan. The "converter" box is said to have generated enough electrical energy to also power the lights in a home.

The car is said to have ended up on a farm 20 miles outside of Buffalo, "not far from Niagra Falls."

So what was the power source? Some charged "black magic", while others remained naturally skeptical. Tesla is reputed to have removed the box and returned to his New York City laboratory without revealing how he did it, though the suspicion lingers to this day, on the 150th anniversary of his birth in Smiljan, Croatia on July 9/10, 1856, that he had somehow tapped into the earth's magnetic field or perhaps even more exotically, zero point energy or gravitation waves.

We will, of course, probably never know how he powered the car, or even if the event actually took place -- though we know Tesla was an unparalleled genius when it came to understanding electromagnetism and how to apply it for benign and some allege, deadly purposes. Legend has it that he actually invented a death ray of some type and this is why the government, on his death in 1943, is said to have confiscated all his personal papers. Presumably, they didn't want his research falling into the wrong hands… or was it because they didn't want the world to figure out how to propel our vehicles on free energy?

Is the story of the free energy 1931 Pierce-Arrow just another "urban legend"? I have no way of knowing, but it seems a fitting memorial to a mysterious man who transformed the world as we know it, providing millions with electricity and billions in profits for some of world's largest and most powerful multinational corporations.

Happy birthday, NIKOLA.

Thanks to Dave Cutter at Village Energyfor bringing this intriguing story to our attention."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Memory Training Shown to Turn Up Brainpower

From the NY Times:

"A new study has found that it may be possible to train people to be more intelligent, increasing the brainpower they had at birth.

Until now, it had been widely assumed that the kind of mental ability that allows us to solve new problems without having any relevant previous experience — what psychologists call fluid intelligence — is innate and cannot be taught (though people can raise their grades on tests of it by practicing).

But in the new study, researchers describe a method for improving this skill, along with experiments to prove it works.

The key, researchers found, was carefully structured training in working memory — the kind that allows memorization of a telephone number just long enough to dial it. This type of memory is closely related to fluid intelligence, according to background information in the article, and appears to rely on the same brain circuitry. So the researchers reasoned that improving it might lead to improvements in fluid intelligence.

First they measured the fluid intelligence of four groups of volunteers using standard tests. Then they trained each in a complicated memory task, an elaborate variation on Concentration, the child’s card game, in which they memorized simultaneously presented auditory and visual stimuli that they had to recall later.

The game was set up so that as the participants succeeded, the tasks became harder, and as they failed, the tasks became easier. This assured a high level of difficulty, adjusted individually for each participant, but not so high as to destroy motivation to keep working. The four groups underwent a half-hour of training daily for 8, 12, 17 and 19 days, respectively. At the end of each training, researchers tested the participants’ fluid intelligence again. To make sure they were not just improving their test-taking skills, the researchers compared them with control groups that took the tests without the training.

The results, published Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, were striking. Although the control groups also made gains, presumably because they had practice with the fluid intelligence tests, improvement in the trained groups was substantially greater. Moreover, the longer they trained, the higher their scores were. All performers, from the weakest to the strongest, showed significant improvement.

“Intelligence has always been considered principally an immutable inherited trait,” said Susanne M. Jaeggi, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at the University of Michigan and a co-author of the paper. “Our results show you can increase your intelligence with appropriate training.”

Why did the training work? The authors suggest several aspects of the exercise relevant to solving new problems: ignoring irrelevant items, monitoring ongoing performance, managing two tasks simultaneously and connecting related items to one another in space and time.

No one knows how long the gains will last after training stops, Dr. Jaeggi said, and the experiment’s design did not allow the researchers to determine whether more training would continue to produce further gains."

The article is linked here.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Humming Praises for the Wild Bee

From the NY Times:

"I’VE been watching the bumblebees flying around the kitchen porch of our old farmhouse in Maryland, and wondering if they have a nest nearby, maybe under the eaves. They like shady spots, protected from the wind and the rain. There are probably some mason bees, too, holed up in the old boards of the barn, or in holes drilled by wood beetles in the trunks of dead trees.

The bumblebee and other native wild bees are all the more important in the garden now that the population of honeybees is in such decline — down to 2.4 million colonies last year from 5.5 million in 1945, according to the Department of Agriculture, due mainly, scientists say, to mites infesting the hives and, lately, to a mysterious epidemic called colony collapse disorder."

Read the entire article here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Why flowers have lost their scent

Pollution is stifling the fragrance of plants and preventing bees from pollinating them – endangering one of the most essential cycles of nature, writes Environment Editor Geoffrey Lean of The Independent

"Pollution is dulling the scent of flowers and impeding some of the most basic processes of nature, disrupting insect life and imperilling food supplies, a new study suggests.

The potentially hugely significant research – funded by the blue-chip US National Science Foundation – has found that gases mainly formed from the emissions of car exhausts prevent flowers from attracting bees and other insects in order to pollinate them. And the scientists who have conducted the study fear that insects' ability to repel enemies and attract mates may also be impeded.

The researchers – at the University of Virginia – say that pollution is dramatically cutting the distance travelled by the scent of flowers. Professor Jose Fuentes, who led the study, said: "Scent molecules produced by flowers in a less polluted environment could travel for roughly 1,000 to 1,200 metres. But today they may travel only 200 to 300 metres. This makes it increasingly difficult for bees and other insects to locate the flowers."

The researchers – who worked on the scent given off by snapdragons – found that the molecules are volatile, and quickly bond with pollutants such as ozone and nitrate radicals, mainly formed from vehicle emissions. This chemically alters the molecules so that they no longer smell like flowers. A vicious cycle is therefore set up where insects struggle to get enough food and the plants do not get pollinated enough to proliferate.

Already bees – which pollinate most of the world's crops – are in unprecedented decline in Britain and across much of the globe. At least a quarter of America's 2.5 million honey bee colonies have been mysteriously wiped out by colony collapse disorder (CCD), where hives are found suddenly deserted.

The crisis has now spread to Europe. Politicians insist that CCD has not yet been found in Britain, but the insects have been declining here too, and the agriculture minister Lord Rooker has warned that "the honey bee population could be wiped out in 10 years".

The researchers do not believe that they have found the cause of CCD, but say that pollution is making life more difficult for bees and other insects in many ways."

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Bob Dylan wins rock's first Pulitzer

By Diane Haithman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 8, 2008

How does it feel to share the limelight with rock legend Bob Dylan?

This year's Pulitzer Prizes in honored two musical innovators who tend to reject categorization: A special citation went to singer-songwriter Dylan, and the annual music award went to composer and Los Angeles native David Lang.

In an interview Monday, Lang enthusiastically mixed metaphors: "You know, I am not fit to touch the hem of his shoes. Bob Dylan is the only artist who's in heavy rotation in my household."

He added, "I told my children I won the Pulitzer, and they were like, 'OK, big deal.' But when I said, 'OK, they gave a special award to Bob Dylan, just like me,' they said, 'Oh, this is really something.' "

The 66-year-old Dylan, who said he was "in disbelief," was cited for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power." His award marks the first Pulitzer given to a rock musician."

Nominated several times for the Nobel Prize in Literature, can that be far behind?

Monday, April 07, 2008

World's Priciest, Fastest Car Debuts

The world's most expensive and fastest production car makes its debut in America. WSJ's Elva Ramirez speaks with Bugatti and Hermes executives about the companies' joint project to create the special edition Bugatti Hermes Veyron.

World's Priciest, Fastest Car Debuts
World's Priciest, Fastest Car Debuts

Elephant Paints Self-Portrait

An elephant puts non-artist humans to shame by effortlessly painting a self-portrait.

Elephant Paints Self-Portrait
Elephant Paints Self-Portrait

Sunshine in a Can

A Silicon Valley company is harnessing the power of the sun along with one of the hottest technology trends to supply electricity, reports CNBCs Jim Goldman

Sunshine in a Can
Sunshine in a Can