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June 22, 2008

How much power do devices on standby consume anyway?

Charlie's Diary: Magical thinking

Charlie Stross breaks it down Mr. Wizard style:

I'm particularly exercised right now by the suggestion that we all ought to be unplugging our domestic appliances that run on "standby" mode, waiting to be activated by remote control, rather than leaving them sucking electricity the whole time. Take these folks, for example:

So many electrical items around the home have little 'standby' LED lights these days. Indeed it's shocking how much energy they use as well (apparently around 90% of the power needed to run the appliance - so there's another 'saving money' issue for you!). Does everything in your house really need to be permanently on standby? Plugging and unplugging electrical items is the work of but a moment and can make a difference to the environemt and your bank balance!

Er, no. Just how much juice does a standby appliance consume, really, and how much would we save if everybody in the UK religiously turned off appliances they weren't using? Let's try and come up with some numbers.

The first point I'd like to note is that, contra the well-meaning assertions of Shropshire Green Party, devices in standby mode do not all consume 90% of their maximum power drain. Take the laser printer sitting on the other side of my office; it's rated power drain in standby is 11 watts, but when in operation, peak drain is around 700 watts. It's a few years old; modern appliances tend to be a lot more parsimonious with their standby draw. Ditto items like LCD televisions or VCRs and PVRs; newer ones tend to run on single-digit watts when in standby, primarily to keep the infrared receiver powered up (so that they can come fully to life when you hit the "go" button).

The next item on the green hit list is items like mobile phone, PDA, or iPod chargers — wall warts, those blocky transformers that everything seems to come with these days. They're often warm to the touch; doesn't this mean they're consuming lots of power? Well, no. You'd be surprised how little power it takes to keep a small transformer warm; a couple of watts will do it, over time, because they've got chunky lumps of metal inside that hold heat efficiently, and they don't get hot enough to dissipate it through air convection -- so contact with your hand is the most effective way of cooling them. Typically we're talking 2-5 watts. (If it was on the order of 100 watts, you'd know about it — you'd burn your hand as soon as you touched the thing, just like a halogen spotlight.)

June 21, 2008

I can stop any time I want

via | telegraph.co.uk | Internet addiction is a 'clinical disorder'
Obsessive internet use is a public health problem which is so serious it should be officially recognised as a clinical disorder, according to a leading psychiatrist. "The relationship is with the computer. It becomes a significant other to them. They exhaust emotions that they could experience in the real world on the computer through any number of mechanisms: emailing, gaming, porn." He added: "It's much more acceptable for kids to talk about game use, whereas adults keep it a secret. Rather than having sex, or arguing with their wife or husband, or feeding their children, these adults are playing games."

Now you can lift weights like Ben Grimm

grinding.be--The Revolution Dumbbell

The Revolution Dumbbell enables you to digitally adjust weight by rotating a dial and pushing a couple buttons. Inside are tiny balls that spin. The faster they spin, the more weight is generated. No mention on how much energy would be required to power such a novel idea but that’s just all in the logistics.

June 20, 2008

The "Tin Pest"

Jekyll and Hyde metal's crumbling trick caught on film - tech - 20 June 2008 - New Scientist Tech

Researchers have captured the first video footage of "tin pest" – the transformation of tin from a ductile metal to a flaky, brittle semiconductor (see image, right).

This Jekyll and Hyde transformation between two natural forms, or allotropes, is dependent on temperature. When kept below around 13 C for a period of time, metallic beta-tin morphs into powdery alpha-tin.

The effect is said to have contributed to Napoleon's failed Russian campaign of 1812, because the French soldiers' tin buttons crumbled in the cold.

Tin pest is of relevance today because the lead-free solder used in electronic connections is almost pure tin. Even a small patch of tin pest could change the ability of solder to conduct electricity.

June 19, 2008

The Homeopathy vs Placebo challenge

Competition puts homeopathy on trial - health - 18 June 2008 - New Scientist

Want to win L10,000? Then prove that homeopathy works in proper clinical trials in which half the patients receive the treatment, half receive a placebo, and no one knows till the end who got what.

The challenge was issued on Monday by Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, UK, and science author Simon Singh, in the wake of what they call a smear campaign against them in response to their book Trick or Treatment, which explores the scientific evidence behind complementary remedies. "We're saying to homeopaths, 'put up or shut up'," says Singh.

The pair are not against complementary remedies. Of those examined in their book, 36 worked for particular conditions - such as St John's wort for mild depression - but homeopathy was not among them.