Saturday, September 6, 2008

Technology: Distilling without boiling

Solving the looming freshwater shortage problem requires a way of turning saltwater into freshwater efficiently:

I can't find any numbers on how much more efficient it is, so I don't know if this is a big deal or not. It's just interesting. I actually suspect that in the long run distillation will be more limited by capital costs more than energy costs (you can always build more nuclear power plants) so this probably won't even get used on an industrial scale, but maybe I'm wrong.

Also, there's this note on slide 12:

Professor Boyd, the lead researcher on the project, reveals that this process was largely discovered by accident. "We had this problem with [an] air bubble, so we started hitting it with a laser. Instead of getting rid of it, we saw that we were actually causing the distillation process to occur, which was completely unexpected," Boyd explains.

This is an application of the "Eureka" vs. "That's funny" process in science.


"The presentation or 'gift' of the Holy Ghost simply confers upon a man the right to receive at any time, when he is worthy of it and desires it, the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost, although he may often be left to his own spirit and judgment." --Joseph F. Smith (manual, p. 69)

Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.

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