Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Hydrosphere
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Harley Sachs - April 13th, 2006
Rick Dickson of Portland, Oregon is having trouble getting his patent for an undersea electric generator approved by the US Patent Office. Dickson, a 54-yea- old software engineer, author, and inventor, has developed a unique idea for generating electricity: an underwater dam that uses hydrostatic water pressure to generate continuous electrical energy.
The device is basically a hollow 50-foot diameter sphere placed on the bottom of the sea or lake at a depth of 100 meters. When a valve is opened the water rushes in and a dynamo is rapidly floated up a shaft, passing a series of magnets to generate electricity which is then used to power a Tesla pump that immediately drains the sphere, pushing the water past a second generator. As air is blown out through a snorkel at the surface it operates a third generator. That’s the theory.
There are several ways to generate electricity from the action of the sea: buoys which rise and fall on ocean swells can push and pull water through a dynamo. Dammed-up incoming and outgoing tides can turn turbines, as is done in France. Neither method is continuous and both are dependent on water movement that varies with the weather.
Dickson’s invention, if it works, would rely simply on constant water pressure.
Will it work? The sea is a hostile environment to all machinery.
Barnacles can clog moving parts and corrosion from galvanic action can eat away at metals. Sea critters can be sucked in and foul the mechanism.
Filters to keep them out merely block the flow of water into the hydrosphere.

Then too, the hydrosphere is reminiscent of perpetual motion machines.
Just what is a perpetual motion machine? The idea is that, once set in motion, they will run forever. One such invention, as described in the
Encyclopedia Britannica, “was the closed-cycle water mill… proposed by the English physician Robert Fludd in 1618. Fludd erred in thinking that the energy created by water passing over a mill wheel would exceed the energy required to get the water back up again by means of an Archemedes screw.”
Though some such inventions work for awhile, there is always some loss of energy and eventually they stop. Even the self-winding watch that depends on motion of the earth and energy from the sun won’t run forever, for the sun is not perpetual.
Perpetual motion machines have such a long history of fraud that the
French and American patent offices will not consider them. One of the principles of physics is conservation of energy. Except for nuclear fission, you can’t get more energy out of something than you put in.
A steam locomotive is perhaps only 20% efficient because so much energy is lost through the smoke stack, friction, and radiation through the walls of the boiler and fire pot. An automobile is more efficient, but the most efficient device is the electrical transformer. Even those tiny voltage converters used for small electric devices you have in your home and office give off some heat.
Though my little sun-driven windmill (black and white blades mounted inside a vacuum) will whirl away merrily as long as direct sunlight strikes it, it will not work forever. The vacuum degrades as molecules of air permeate the glass; and the needle the blades are balanced on will eventually wear out. Eventually the sun itself will burn out. And of course, the gadget does no work other than to demonstrate the power of photons striking a dark surface. Though the energy that drives it is free, it’s not 100% utilized.

Will Dickson’s hydrosphere device work? It seems to be a variation of Fludd’s water wheel, depending on a Tesla pump instead of an Archemedes screw. With three dynamos and a Tesla pump, water rushing in and being pumped out, surely the dynamos cannot overcome the law of conservation of energy. There is slippage, friction, corrosion, and pollution by foreign matter all working against efficiency. There’s also the problem of servicing a machine that’s 100 meters deep in the sea or lake.
So far, none of the many companies and countries he has contacted are willing to risk the approximately one million dollars it would take to build a prototype.
Like some inventors, Mr. Dickson fears that dark forces are working against his hydrosphere invention. People who interviewed him for a television broadcast were mysteriously fired. He feels that vested interests in the power industry do not want competition from an invention like his. Will it go the way of the 100 mpg auto engine that runs on distilled water?
Let’s hope that if Mr. Dickson’s patent does get approved he does not suffer the fate of Mr. Wankel, whose patent expired about the same time someone was finally willing to build and market his pinstonless rotating engine.

Harley L. Sachs, visit the web site www.hu.mtu.edu/~hlsachs and listen to two stories broadcast on the BBC (broadband high speed recommended!) and read extensive reviews.
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