atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#3321: Damn it, no wonder

So I--after going to bed at 11:30--naturally had to wake up at 2 AM.

...awakened by my own goddamned nose, of course. Every f-ing breath: FWEE! It was happening in the dream I was having, and of course it was enough to wake me up.

I tried to get back to sleep and failed, so finally I got up. Cleaned out the sink and the cat boxes, two jobs I didn't do before bed because I was too tired; then I put a pot pie in the microwave and came in here to fire up the computer, and--

*sniff*

Damn it, why do the cats wait until I've cleaned the litter box to take a dump? I went to Mom's old room to switch the fan on, and saw--laying on the plastic the two litter pans sit on--a 4.5" cat turd. (Size estimated.)

On the floor, outside the litter boxes I just cleaned.

Both cats got their noses rubbed in it while getting a paddling. (Like I said, all I do is tap them on the hips, just forward of the tail. It's sensitive enough that--well, ever had someone poke you in the back in one of those points that makes you convulse like you were hit with a defibrillator?)

It would still be incorrect, but a bit more understandable, if this had happened before the litter boxes had been cleaned. But come on--I JUST CLEANED THE GODDAMNED LITTER BOXES. Fresh litter, too. WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU CALL THAT?

* * *

So then after all that I'm heading into my room and see that the thermostat is at 66°. Well, crap, no fuckin' wonder I've been so goddamned cold over the past few days!

I've been waking up--in bed with a comforter over me, wearing t-shirt and sleep pants--freezing my ass off, and now I know why!

* * *

Moore's Law doesn't apply to batteries.

The problem comes down to how molecules act when they store energy.

See, batteries are electrochemical devices. A lead-acid battery, for example, is basically lead and sulphuric acid. When you charge it, the ph of the electrolyte changes and electrons are moved from negative plates to positive plates. These electrons are stored in the positive plates because their chemistry changes. Once you disconnect that battery from the charger, the electrons have nowhere to go and no way to get there, and because they can't move, the chemistry of the plates and electrolyte remains stable.

(There is some leakage current, which is why a battery will eventually discharge even if disconnected. Usually this current is very, very tiny compared with the total capacity of the battery.)

But when you hook that battery up to something--keep it simple and say "a light bulb"--the current begins to flow--and as it does, the chemistry of the plates and the electrolyte gradually return to whatever it was before the battery was charged.

But lead-acid batteries are very, very heavy, because lead is very, very heavy stuff. And for all that they work very well, they really don't store all that much energy per unit volume.

We've got other technologies that are more convenient, and some of them store more energy per volume, but they're still not all that great; and it wasn't until lithium ion batteries were invented that we could build really small devices.

Lithium ion batteries, though, have this tiny little problem: short circuit them, and they'll explode.

They explode because current is heat--the Laws of Thermodynamics are adamant on that point; you can't have a flowing current without generating waste heat unless you refrigerate the hell out of the conductor--in which case the Laws of Thermodynamics are satisfied in a different fashion. Lithium ion batteries explode because in a short-circuit situation, the current produced is arbitrarily high, and the heat boils the electrolyte. Also, the electrodes heat up to a high temeprature; and as is usual with batteries some of their components are flammable. So not only do they burst; they catch fire in the process.

But the higher your energy density goes, the more prone your batteries are to exploding.

The real issue comes in when you get beyond a certain point where--instead of releasing electrons--your electrochemistry merely releases heat. The technical term for this chemical process is burning and when it occurs we say something approximating oh shit it's on fire.

We have yet to discover a battery which can store as much energy as an equivalent volume of gasoline, and release it as electricity in a controlled fashion without combusting.

This may be physically impossible for an electrochemical battery.

* * *

Anyway, I'm gonna play something now.
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