Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘research

Power: Not a Point of View (March 9, 2009)

Iran is planning to build 20 atomic power sites to generate electricity

Russia has aided finishing the first power station for a cost exceeding one billion dollars. Iran is not only the fourth exporter of oil but has also huge reserves in oil and gas. And yet, Iran spends enormous amount of hard cash money to import oil products and gasoline from overseas refineries.

The Iranians are building a second atomic power generator, almost alone and strong with the expertise they acquired.  The Iranian officials said that oil is a precious commodity that should not be wasted to generating dirty power

The developed nations have oil reserves but prefer to purchase oil at a reduced price in order to save their oil resources for their chemical and pharmaceutical industries for later generations. (Actually, chemical industries rely almost exclusively on oil products.)

The Arab Gulf States have established “sovereign funds” for the next generations but they all have vanished during the latest economic and financial recession.  What is left are highways and built stones.

I am exaggerating on purpose. This piece is meant to be a wake-up call. It is time to invest of the human potentials, social institutions, and political reforms.

Lebanon used to export electricity to Syria and Jordan in the 30’s during the French mandate. Presently, and 80 years later, and 65 years after its “independence”, Lebanon import electricity from Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. The populations of all these States have quadrupled in 80 years while Lebanon barely doubled, due to massive immigration, and we could not even double our power production. 

Our neighboring States have reached sort of power sufficiency and exporting surplus electricity to Lebanon. Lebanon has plenty of water and rivers but we failed to invest properly on our natural resources and hydraulic potentials. 

Not only we have not enough electricity, and none of it is hydraulically generated, but we have no running water.  We receive water twice a week for a few hours and we have to filtrate and purify what we receive.

The Lebanese family has to pay twice for electrical power and for water by supplementing their needs from the scalpers of private providers. The main culprits are those “Christian” Maronite political parties who claimed that the power of Lebanon resides in its military weakness.  Implicitly, those sectarian political parties meant that Lebanon should not challenge the dicta of Israel regarding our planning of our water resources.

Mind you that Israel purpose is to divert all our rivers toward its own Zionist State.

Electricity is a kind of power and oil and gas are essentials for locomotion and mechanization and industries.  Nevertheless, nations are judged developed according to the level of their research institutions. 

You might start the “egg or chicken” priority of security and stability first, but this is not the case.  When States invest on almost everything except knowledge base and research institutions, then you should not hope for stability and security. 

Developed nations respect States that focus their energies and resources on knowledge, literacy, and technologies and are willing to protect them from neighboring bullies.

Developed nations respect States that generate highly educated and well trained citizens regardless of size, origin, and natural resources.

Power is the level and quality of education, an education targeting the needs of the population and neighboring markets.

Power is no longer a point of view.

 “How to tell long and good stories from human factors graphs?”

Article #33, (Feb. 28, 2006)

If we concentrate on a graph we might generate a long story that span many disciplines and furnish us with a wealth of information and knowledge that pages of words barely can convey. A graph might open the gate for dozen of questions that are the foundation of scientific, experimental, and critical thinking.

Suppose that we are comparing the efficiency in energy consumption between walking bare feet or wearing shoes that weight 1.3 Kg.  Considering the walking speed as the other independent variable, along with the type and weight of shoes, we observe that the curves show that we are consuming less energy at low speed, then both curves decreasing to a minimum consumption of 0.2 KJ/Nm and intersecting at around 80 meter/min and then increasing as walking speed increases.

This graph is telling us that casual walking consumes less energy per unit walking effort than fast walking and that, at a cut off speed of 80 meter/min, the energy consumption is equal for both foot wares.  Some people might jump to the conclusion that this cut-off speed can be generalized to all foot wears, but more experiments are necessarily needed to verify this initial hypothesis.

Another piece of information is that after the cut-off speed, it is more economical in energy to walk barefoot. Basically, this graph is saying that the more weight you add to your lower limbs the more energy you should expect to spend, a fact that is not an earth shattering observation.

Biomechanics tells us that the structure of our body is not geared toward saving on our muscular effort, but to increasing our range and speed of movements.  Most of our muscles are connected to the bones of our limbs and their respective joints in manners they have to exert great effort and many fold the weight of our body members to overcome any of our limb’s mass.

Usually, the tendons of our muscles are inserted to the limb bones, close to the joints, and thus the muscles have to exert a huge effort to overcome the moment of the bone and flesh weight in order to effect a movement. Any extra mass to our limbs will tax our muscles to produce many folds the additional weight.

There is a caveat however; if you wrapped a weight of 1.3 kg around your ankles and walked bare feet you would consume more energy than without the added weight, but the curve would be parallel to the previous curve and not increasing more steepily than walking with shoes weighting 1.3 Kg.  Consequently, the variation in the behavior of the graphs result from a combination of added weight and lesser static coefficient of friction exerted by the shoes on the walking surface than the bare foot..

Thus, what this graph does not mention is the static coefficient of friction between the footwear and the ground, and which is the most important variable and in this case, can concatenate many independent and control variables such as the materials of the footwear and the type of ground into a unique independent variable of coefficient of friction.

The higher the coefficient of friction the easier it is to move and progress and thus walking faster for the same amount of effort invested.  It is not that important to generate muscle force if the reaction force on the surface cannot be produced to move a person in the right direction.  For example, it is extremely difficult to move on slippery surfaces no matter how much muscular effort we generate.  Apparently, the shape and skin texture of our foot provide a better and more efficient coefficient of friction than most foot wears.

However, the most important fact of this simple experiment is showing us the behavior of the curves and offering additional hypotheses for other studies.

What this graph is not telling us is the best story of all, and which can excite the mind into further investigation. For example, what kind of earth materials are we walking on; sands, asphalt, rough terrains, slippery roads or grassy fields?  Does the sample of bare feet walkers include aboriginals used in walking bare feet, city dwellers, and people from the province?  Does the sample includes groups of  people according to the softness of their feet skins or the size of feet?

May be the shape of the curves are the same for females as well, but it would be curious to find out the magnitude of variations compared to males.  It is clear that a simple and lousy graph delved us into the problems of experimentation and raised enough questions to attend to various fields of knowledge.

In the final analysis, the question is how relevant is this experiment practically?  How far can a modern man walk bare feet?  Does any economy in energy compensate for the ache, pain and injuries suffered by walking bare feet?  Would athletes be allowed to compete bare feet if it is proven to increase performance and break new records?  Does anyone care of walking barefoot in order to save a few kilo Joules?

The theme of this article is that you can venture into many fields of knowledge, just by focusing your attention on graphs and tables and permitting your mind to navigate into uncharted waters through queries and critical thinking.





November 2020

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