Monday, March 26, 2007

Red Colemans

Are you getting sick of lantern pictures yet? Well here is another one but this time they are running.

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The one on the left is a run of the mill 200A and the one on the right is a Canadian 220E. The 220E isn't the rarest lantern but not everyone has one and one of the most obvious differences from the US version is the colour. The more common US version is green and this one is obviously red.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The China Syndrome

Better late than never but I just watched the China Syndrome and I have to say that it is a pretty powerful movie. I've always been interested in nuclear power, both the good and the bad side of it. This movie takes nuclear fear a little too far I think. Recently I read a book by Bernard Cohen that a friend lent to me that tried to look at the dangers of nuclear power from a scientists stand point. It was really interesting to hear from a scientific point of view that nuclear power isn't as dangerous as the media would have you belive. Reporters only want to report the bad news. The China syndrome that the movie is named after is an exaggerated result of a nuclear melt down. The idea would be that the nuclear core would get so hot that it would burn its way through the earth and come out the other side in China. Needless to say this is perposterous for many reasons and very unlikely. The movie recieved a fair amount of criticism because it falsly makes the nuclear industry look much less safe and more accident prone that it actually is.

The biggest boost to this movie was the fact that the Three Mile Island accident happened a mere 12 days after the release of this film. This is unfortunate as it makes the movie seem all the more realistic and gave the anti-nuclear people a real boost. The ironic thing was that the Three Mile Island accident happened in much the same way as the accident in the movie. There was a failure of the coolant supply and the core partially melted. The main fact that people seem to avoid is in the TMI accident the highest dose recieved by anyone was only one third of what they would naturally get in one year. A China syndrome would be unlikely because the containment building of the reactor is designed to contain a meltdown. In the only full melt down the world has seen, Chernobyl, the core didn't pass through the earth and pop through the other side. The reactor had a large positive void coefficient which means the reactors power increases as coolant boils away.Now a large amount of radioactive material was released but Chernobyl did not have a full containment building around the reactor. Considering the number of reactors in the world this just goes to show that nuclear power can be safe if it is designed to be safe from the start.

Another point the movie brought up was the disposal of nuclear waste. Everyone is afraid of nuclear waste from reactors but they create far less waste than a coal power plant. A coal fired power plant may release as much as 5.2 tons of uranium per year. The energy in nuclear fuel is very high compared to the size of the fuel. "One uranium nuclear fuel pellet the size of the tip of your little finger is equivalent to the energy provided by 1,780 pounds of coal; or 149 gallons of oil, as much oil as fits in three 50 gallon drums; or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas." this means that in 40 years of nuclear power there has only been 50,000 metric tons of waste produced. The would be enough to fill "a football field to a depth of about six yards". You have to remember that Uranium is very dense so it is very heavy compared to it's size. We aren't in an urgent situation to find new places to store the waste. When we have to start putting the waste undergound there is a process being considered called "Vitrificaiton" which basically turns the waste to glass which makes it less reactive with other materials. it is still quite radioactive but it will not react with ground water etc.

You may be wondering why we do not have nuclear power here in Saskatchewan but that is a discussion for another time.

I guess I got on a bit of a tangent there but I had to get that out. In summary I liked the movie for it's movie characteristics but take the science with a grain of salt.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Wedding Vegetables

Well another series of Top Gear has come and gone. It was good, but not great. I must say the last few episodes have had some great quotes coming out of them.

I was a little disappointed in Richard Hammond in the last episode. His head must still not be right because he can't figure out how HP numbers on a chassis dyno work. They tested the new Mustang GT-500 against his 68 GT 390 and put them both on a chassis dyno. He was disappointed to see the GT-500 only produce about 450 hp since it was supposed to have 500. He failed to realize that it produces 500 at the crank and a 10% loss to the wheels is normal. I thought a "car guy" on tv should know this. He was more disappointed to find his 68 had about 250 hp at the wheels. Well considering the original HP reading was a gross reading at the crank this is probably about right. I'm disappointed as it seems these guys get to drive the fancy cars and smash shit but they don't seem to know much about cars. That said, Top Gear is still one of my favorite shows.

Just a little update on those 2-way FRS/GMRS radios I bought. It would seem that their range in the city is about 600-900 metres. That's a little below their claim of 10 miles but I didn't expect to see anything close to that. I was hoping to get 1-2 kms though. I'm sure on the flat prairie they would do much better but through houses, trees, cars, powerlines and the like they only give 600-900 metres.

I put up some pictures of my last lantern but I noticed that I haven't put any up of my 242B that I rescued from a pawn shop for $14. Notice the metallic green paint on the vent, it makes a nice smell when its running.

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This is a nice little lantern. It is built like a mini 236 or 237.

Well that's about all for this update but I will leave you this great link to the real live Calvin and Hobbes Snowmen.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Antique and Gun show

Today I was out at the Collectors show at Prairieland to check out the antiques. I had a couple of things in mind while I was out there and did actually find something. As usual I'm on the look out for Coleman lanterns and stoves but I'm also trying to find a radioactive fiestaware plate. I packed my trusty russian geiger counter and I was off.

It is amazing how much junk can be put in one place at one time. I guess half the fun is too look through the junk and find something worth while, it's like finding a diamond in the rough. I was amazed as there was only 2 Coleman lamps in all of the antiques section but I did manage to find a fiestaware side plate that was indeed radioactive but the guy wanted $20 for it, why do I need a $20 plate? So I moved on. After finishing the antiques side I almost left, I'm not much into guns and I don't know a lot about them but I decided I might as well look around. I'm glad I did as I found a 5/64 220E in the back corner for $20. This 220E is made in Canada which makes it a little special as I don't think there were that many made and they are red instead of green as the American ones are. Here are a couple pictures:

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I think it looks good along side my 200A in the living room. I need something to balance out some of Lindsay's decorations.

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I'm not a huge fan of the double mantle lanterns but I couldn't pass this one up. I prefer Canadian made single mantle lanterns so if any of you spot a cheap one at a garage sale let me know ;)