Eclipsed, Lately

HDR composite of eclipse (Tom Murphy)In the event that anyone still checks this site for new posts (not sure whether to be proud or concerned), here’s an update. But mostly it’s a pointer to some photos I think some may enjoy.

While I remain concerned about the collision course between growth and resources, I have found ample distraction these past few years: research, teaching, administrative duties, bike commuting, and starting a company to make aircraft detectors. Oh, and politics. What a spectacle!

Speaking of spectacles, ever since traveling to Mexico in 1991 to see my first total solar eclipse, I’ve wanted another one. Just afterwards, a consultation of upcoming events suggested that the next one I was likely to see would have me waiting until 2017! As a 21-year-old, I wondered if I would even still be alive in that distant year, inconceivably old. I made it. And what was I thinking—old?!

So after much anticipation and preparation, I traveled north with a college friend, remote-camping/mobile and ready to pounce on the best weather prospects. We ended up in far eastern Oregon, on BLM (our) land. The experience was amazing: I automated my cameras so that I could largely just gawk. It was all too short: I needed a pause button to really take it all in. I’ll have to settle for future eclipses. And to that, I say Mexico (not the U.S.) in 2024—based on likely weather. Besides, it’s unclear whether the eclipse shadow will be able to get past the wall we keep hearing so much yakking about.

But you can see highlights of my photos from the recent glorious event here.

In other news, my Nickel-Iron batteries seem to be holding up well (I owe a post on some real analysis of these). I am “living the dream” in my daily commute. After 12 years off a bike (obvious routes are dangerous; hilly profile would require time-inefficient shower), I finally solved the problems: (longer) trail route and an e-bike (off-grid-solar-charged). Purists would say I’m cheating, but I say I’m back on a bike and working plenty hard. The rough-hewn route exposes me to wildlife (the occasional coyote or bobcat, even), has a few stream crossings, and enriches my life by offering a daily connection to the natural world. My propulsion energy is now free of direct contributions from fossil fuels, which I find to be rewarding—even if the materials/manufacture are still utterly dependent.

So that’s it for now. I haven’t given up on Do the Math, but have not had much new to say, and little available time in any case. I hope all is well with you all.

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13 thoughts on “Eclipsed, Lately

  1. RSS for the win – I saw this almost as soon as you posted it.

    Glad you’re back!

    • This post captures the flavor of most other comments thus far, so I’m suppressing similar posts in an effort to keep comments interesting for others to read. But thanks, all, for the words of encouragement!

  2. I went for an e-bike since three years and I’d have plenty to say, but I’ll keep it short.

    Just think that an ebike does about 100 km with 1 kWh electricity, as opposed to 6 km of an EV. Now take your calculations about human efficiency (they were on par with a fully laden Prius, IIRC) and I even doubt that ebikes pollute more than normal bicycles.

    Regarding cheating: to cheat there must be a rule. Which rule are we talking about? That one with the bike must suffer? Where is it written? I live in a hilly town, before the e-bike I simply avoided many routes, now I do them usually. Were it better if I did them with a car? That wouldn’t be cheating, then? 🙂 To me it all boils down to carbon per km, and the e-bike is a clear winner. Plus, I always loved cycling and the e-bike enables me to do it more often. So what’s not to like about it?

    Regarding your blog: how is your PHEV doing? Suggestion for a post: I remember you wrote one about energy storage, with quite grim conclusions. Looking at recent developments in this field (gigafactory, rapidly improving chemistry and sinking prices) maybe a review of this topic would be interesting. Also, I’d like to hear your take on that study about the feasibility of 100% renewables.

    Best regards

  3. I am looking forward to an update about EVs (either yours, or in general), since there has been some movement in range (Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model 3), and/or efficiency (BMW i3, Hyundai Ioniq).

    Keep up the good work!

  4. It would still be nice if you could post some of the code which you did your analysis and graphs with. With cheap ubiquitous computing (arduino, raspberry) data logging is getting much more accessible, so some examples for how to analyze the resulting data would be useful to many. It’s also in the spirit if the blog title: help others “do the math”!
    Oh, and RSS for the win!

  5. As you’re back, I wanted to mention this website in case you didn’t know of it, it will probably be of interest to your readers anyway (I’m not related with this site in any manner). It’s about low-end, resilient and sustainable technology.

  6. It’s good to see another post! Every so often I take a peek to see if you have added anything new. I have been following you since discovering the blog whilst I was working out in Qatar a few years ago. You provided me with a lot of thought-inspiring information and analysis which has gently coloured my attitude to ‘sustainability’.
    Keep dripping the thought-provoking analyses please.

  7. I get Google alerts for Do The Math. Folks still post your bad math and silly assumptions to argue against the practicality of using space resources. Not as often as they used to but often enough it’s still worth debunking.

  8. I’d be curious to read your thoughts on the surprisingly rapid cost reduction in photovoltaic cells – they, and other types of renewables, are now both less expensive and being more rapidly deployed than anyone (?) expected. Meanwhile oil production continues to increase due to advances in fracking technology. We seem to be going gangbusters on all fronts… your post on peak oil and others had a lot of numbers which I’d love to see updated!

    • Oh, I forgot to mention that I also wrote a response to your “Energy Trap” post. I wrote it about 1 year and 2 months ago. Here:

      By the way, I love your blog. You are by far the most knowledgeable and informed defender of what I call the energy/resource decline movement. I still think you’re wrong, but you make a more persuasive case for it than anyone else.

      I hope you write another post on the energy situation. There have been many changes in the energy scene in the last few years. For example, there are all kinds of new storage ideas being developed, like new flow batteries that use abundant materials. The price of solar power has plummeted and continues to plummet. EVs seem finally to be taking off with the Tesla model 3. Some regions are moving toward renewable electricity. I’d love it if you wrote a blog post addressing those new trends.

      -Tom S

  9. “In other news, my Nickel-Iron batteries seem to be holding up well (I owe a post on some real analysis of these). ”

    Yes! Please give us a real analysis of those!

    Do you have details on their construction and the system into which they are integrated on your website? I am quite interested in those, too.


  10. Actually I checked your blog for the first time in YEARS just now! I can’t remember how many years exactly, but I believe it might be about 3. I just pretty much randomly remembered the blog again.

    I am very glad to see you and the blog still exist.

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