Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Solar Energy Is Not Always Associated with Hipsters

There is some evidence that the Kepler Space Telescope has found a star surrounded by solar-energy collectors (or, more likely, lots of asteroids). Some of my fellow wingnuts saw the word “solar” and figured the researchers must be hipsters trying to ignore nuclear energy. Well … Let's do some arithmetic.

The mass of the ocean is 1.4 × 1024 g. This is 1/9 hydrogen. Deuterium is 1 part in 104 of the hydrogen. Deuterium fusion can yield 3.4 × 1011 J/g. Multiplying them all out, we get 5 × 1030 J. The Sun emits 3.8 × 1026 J/s. Dividing that we see that the Sun puts out as much energy as fusing all the deuterium in Earth's oceans in 13,000 seconds.

Even if we assume we can fuse all the hydrogen in Earth's oceans (using imaginary technology), that would still only bring us to four years.

Compared to space-based solar, Earth-based nuclear energy is a wet firecracker.


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