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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Viva Chavez

I have been an admirer of the Venezuelan supremo Hugo Chavez for many years now. His recent moves to provide cheap heating oil to BPL US citizens for the winter of 2005 is a major political master stroke that only reinforces my respect for his political acumen. What we are witnessing is a paradigm shift in the way the world works. Aid has always been a tool of leverage. In this case Chavez is using it to leverage open the minds of the recipients. What is being made clear to the US electorate is that their neo-liberal rulers don't give a whit as to the effects of winter on those who cannot afford the rates. It is to be noted that the war in Iraq has been exploited by the US oil majors to harvest windfall profits, and the same war is arguably the cause of this shortage. For the small subsidy on 12 million gallons of heating oil Chavez is able to underline the lacunae of the current global financial system and buy mindshare. To me this is like taking a leaf off the Marshall plan that "rebuilt" Europe and ensure the creation of a large beneficiary population within the zone of conflict.

What makes this even more interesting is that it is probably the first credible challenge to the Monroe doctrine of the US, that supposes that the entire Americas, especially meso and south America are a kind of US protectorate and will serve the purpose of a colony for the US. (This brings to mind Kipling rather honest appraisal of colonies as " A source of raw material and a market for our manufactured goods.") If and this is a big if, Chavez is not deposed, shot or imprisoned for "crimes against humanity", the scuttling of the Mar del plata economic summit is probably the tip of the iceberg.

Of course this is one side of the picture (the majoritarian one, and hey isn't that what democracy is about), there is no lack of Chavez haters (predominantly from the ex-ruling class of Venezuela which is remarkably articulate and well networked if a bit lacking in credibility). Some choice counter opinions here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Novell Doubts Microsoft Latest "Linux Facts"

Slashdot reports
Microsoft Corp's "Get the Facts" campaign comparing Windows with Linux continues to prove controversial, with Novell Inc describing the latest set of facts offered up by Microsoft as "misdirection".

In my personal opinion they are panicking. The data center is lost, the mindshare is lost now the application space is going. I spend an average of 2 hours a month in administering our Linux LTSP based thin client network and we are a hell of a lot more secure than any microsoft site.

U.S. Energy Dept plans SSL workshop

And the action hots up. The realization that a penny saved is a penny earned has hit policy makers and planners across the world. While the indian counterparts of the US energy dept are also trying to create similar plans, the majority are still clueless about how the latest lighting technology can have huge benefits in economic and ecological terms.


How long is an LED's "long life?" Traffic signals with Luxeon(R) LEDs
from Lumileds have been operating for seven years without failure.

Towns Shine Light on LEDs' Possibilities for Holiday Lighting reports that
Canadian and U.S. communities are using LED lighting for the holidays in greater numbers than ever before.

In Canada, certain communities' public displays of LED holiday lighting are shining the way, hoping to get consumers in the mood to use the latest, energy-efficient technology this season.

Read More here.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Google Expansion

Sam Walton Taught Google More About How to Dominate the Internet Than Microsoft Ever Did. Nice statement and the article is equally startling in its reach. Read more here.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Humour :)

The right half of the brain controls the left half of the body. This means that only left handed people are in their right mind.

Friday, November 18, 2005

What's in a bubble ? Entrepreneurial trials

Popular Science has a story on a guy who has spent the last 11 years coming up with technology to produce monochromatic soap bubbles. Never thought much about bubbles, but it appears that is the holy grail of the toy industry. Apparently a hell of a lot more bubble kits are sold than most people realize. Read more here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Leading from the front - APJ at it again

A five MW Solar Energy Power Plant will be set up at an approximate cost of Rs 100 crore at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.

This was disclosed by President A P J Abdul Kalam while inaugurating the "Global Conference on India R & D 2005 - The World's Knowledge Hub of the Future.

''We are working on a project for creation of a five MW solar energy plant for meeting the power needs of the Rashtrapati Bhavan,''he said.

Dr Kalam said though the capital cost of the project might work out to Rs 100 crore, the cost could be brought down by 60 per cent if high efficiency photovoltaic cells were available.

In this context, he asked the scientists to develop solar projects which are cost and space effective.

Presently, silicon photovoltaic cells work with an efficiency of 13 per cent to 15 per cent, whereas research has already shown promise of achieving 50 per cent efficiency in solar photo voltaic cells with CNT and silicon bonding.

Educational institutions, R and D organisations and the industry should mount a mission mode programme to realise quantity production and marketing of the high efficiency CNT based photovoltaic cell within the next three years," Dr Kalam said, adding that : "in notional terms there will be a minimum saving of Rs 200,000 crore in capital cost for establishing 50,000 MW of solar power out of 100,000 MW of power from renewable energy sources required for realising energy independence in the country. " The President said the country should achieve energy independence within the next 25 years (by 2030).

Sunlight to Fuel Hydrogen Future

The latest way to exploit the sun is through tiny materials that can directly convert sunlight into large amounts of hydrogen.

Hydrogen Solar of Guilford, England, and Altair Nanotechnologies are building a hydrogen-generation system that captures sunlight and uses the energy to break water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The company's current project is a fuel station in Las Vegas that will soon be dispensing hydrogen fuel.

Read more here.

Truckers Choose Hydrogen Power

HFI is a bolt-on, aftermarket part that injects small amounts of hydrogen into the engine air intake.
Read more here.

Huge Solar Plants Bloom in Desert

The barren deserts of Southern California are known for relentless sunshine and miles of empty space -- the perfect combination for the world's most ambitious solar-energy projects.

Two Southern California utility companies are planning to develop a pair of sun-powered power plants that they claim will dwarf existing solar facilities and could rival fossil-fuel-driven power plants.

Read More here.

Monday, November 14, 2005


Until lions have their own historians, histories of the hunt will glorify the hunter.
- African proverb

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Patents killing science ?

The AAAS has a new survey report on the effect of patents on research.
Of the 40% of respondents who reported their work had been affected [by patents], 58% said their work was delayed, 50% reported they had to change the research, and 28% reported abandoning their research project. The most common reason respondents reported having to change or abandon their research project was that the acquisition of the necessary technologies involved overly complex licensing negotiations.

The report is available online in the AAAS site.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Innovative solar product

Alternate Lighting has introduced a universal solar charger for mobile phones and personal electronics like ipods. The compact pocket size design supports most popular cell phone models and is an award winning product that uses a custom microprocessor to automatically detect the device and provide the right voltage and current. This is expected to be a huge hit in India as one can charge the devices anywhere without depending on mains power. Ideal for businessmen, adventnture sport enthusiasts and anyone who needs a compact charger on the move.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Alternate introduces MR16 hi-lux LED lamp

Alternate Lighting, Bangalore has introduced a new Luxeon based 2W LED lamp in the MR16 format. the lamp replaces 50W incandascents and has a life of about 11 years. The lamp has a 180 degree viewing angle and produces about 70 lux at 1 foot in a cool colour temprature. Being a luxeon the light rendering is excellent and produces a very uniform colour. Great product for retail and architectural lighting that can cut power consumption by more than 75 %.

Battle with Entropy

George Monbiot in his lucid style looks at the real implications of running out of oil. The key point he makes is that our current economies with complex structuring will have to go as the net available energy in the system will decrease. Read more here.

The end of the oil economy

Michael T. Klare elucidates on the end of the oil economy here.. The gist of what he says is that
Oil Shockwave identified a set of conditions that provide a vivid preview of what we can expect during the Twilight Era of Petroleum:

*Global oil prices exceeding $150 per barrel
*Gasoline prices of $5.00 or more per gallon
*A spike in the consumer price index of more than 12%
*A protracted recession
*A decline of over 25% in the Standard & Poor's 500 stock index
*A crisis with China over Taiwan
*Increased friction with Saudi Arabia over U.S. policy toward Israel

Whether or not we experience these precise conditions cannot be foreseen at this time, it is incontestable that a slowdown in the global production of petroleum will produce increasingly severe developments of this sort and, in a far tenser, more desperate world, almost certainly threaten resource wars of all sorts; nor will this be a temporary situation from which we can hope to recover quickly. It will be a semi-permanent state of affairs.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Giant Flying LED board

A giant arial display based on LED technology takes to the skies this week.

Small companies fight for a foothold in white LED sector

The patents already in place have a huge effect on new enterants into the LED lighting field. The graphic below illustrates the mess the industry is in. There is a good supporting article here.

How does one change the status quo ?

Who would think that, in the year 2005, we would look to the inventor Thomas Alva Edison to help us think about how to introduce LEDs to the world?

Makarand "Chips" Chipalkatti for one.

At the LEDs 2005 conference recently, Chipalkatti--Osram Sylvania's corporate innovation manager--challenged an audience of LED professionals to imagine how they can speed the adoption of a disruptive technology.

"For Edison, there was no electric lighting. The infrastructure supported gas lighting, which was the incumbent," Chipalkatti told the 400+ professionals who gathered in San Diego to discuss the future of the LED industry in lighting.

Likewise, "solid-state lighting is the biggest disruption in lighting for nearly a century," said Chipalkatti, who chairs the SSL Section of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA).

"The well-established value chain, both in sourcing and selling, is under considerable pressure and changing very fast," he said. "And I think it's pretty confusing for people?particularly consumers."

Chipalkatti was sharing his observations last week as keynote speaker for LEDs 2005, a conference sponsored by Intertech of Portland, Maine, which featured more than two dozen speakers in the field of LEDs.

When Edison popularized the light bulb as a well-known invention, it required an understanding of commercialization.

"Its commercial value was proposed as early as possible. Without that 1% inspiration, the other 99% is just a lot of sweat," he observed.

Read More here.

new white LED technology

Attach a thin layer of ultra-small quantum dots to a blue light LED and what do you get? An LED that gives off a warm, white light with the familiar yellowish hue that we associate with the familiar incandescent bulb.

Read more here

Todays humour

Paranoia doesn't mean the whole world isn't out to get you.

Quantum theory killer ?

Randell Mills, a Harvard University medic who also studied electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claims to have built a prototype power source that generates up to 1,000 times more heat than conventional fuel.

Read more here.

China plans eco-cities

British engineers will this week sign a multi-billion contract with the Chinese authorities to design and build a string of 'eco-cities' - self-sustaining urban centres the size of a large western capital - in the booming country.

read more here.