Tuesday, January 5, 2010

'withouthotair' - Alternate website

The website withouthotair.com has gone down today (5 Jan 2010) and I am not sure why... anyway, there is a backup website at www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/. (Also known as tinyurl.com/sewtha.)
Thanks to friendly people for pointing out the problem.
Apologies for any inconvenience!


Nick_H said...

Hmm. Seems like a bandwidth limitation on the hosting server.

And shouldn't that be "alternative website" since we're UK English speakers over here?

BPK said...

May be a good idea to forward on all requests to withouthotair.com to the alternate website in order to not lose any interest from the community who may not know about the alternative website - they may have only got to the blog from the link on the website.

The domain name provider will probably have a facility to do this quite easily.


Rhys said...

Prof Mackay, perhaps you could have a look at this domestic wind turbine idea when you've got time. According to its claims, it is much better than the previous crop because it generates electricity solely for heating rather than 240V 50Hz power.

dave said...

Rhys - it does make sense to use a small wind turbine for heating, because often there is more wind when it is cold / wintery. However I wonder if it would be better to run a heat pump rather than just dump the electricity directly into a resistor. Using induction machines as generators is nothing new by the way.

O said...


I really liked your book, I wish you could write a similarly no-nonsense guide to climate change - this is something lacking in the current debate. You already made a start in the first chapters of the SEWTHA book.

Maybe something to think about for this year?

ChrisM. said...

Dear David,

This is a reply with regards to your book. Whilst your book is of course pleasant to read, and the back-of-the-envelope quantification easier to read for most people, may I please recommend some potentially very serious issues with it THUS FAR? Your expressed desire is to "make sure your policies include a plan that adds up!" (pg. 203). As yet your book does not YET do that in my (and Nature’s?) opinion, which could have potentially major ramifications if, as if often the case, readers run away impressed by the presentation, perhaps giving 5 Star Reviews, and having numbers to attach themselves to, but not seriously questioning beyond and within those numbers, perhaps building careers on them, examining them in, building policies and purchases and provisions upon them, which could bind us all to unsustainable living for decades to come in the Cry Wolf belief to the contrary. "...plan that adds up!", “Nature cannot be fooled” (though people can be and are).

Here's why. If we have a Set, [1kWh, 2kWh, 3kWh, 4kWh], which we have accrued either in each chapter, or over a certain investigation, and, in Conclusion, we add the members up, we would run away with thinking that 1+2+3+4 = 10kWh is the ‘answer’.
However, what, in practice, if someone said, "Oh, but that has forgotten the entire production, supply, lifecycle, manufacturing, usage, maintenance, usage, sale, marketing, transport, office, commuting, electric fluffy dice on desks, information technology, satellite links, etc. etc. chain. If I include all that, then we should add a sum total other figure to the Set NOW under consideration, e.g. [1kWh, 2kWh, 3kWh, 4kWh, 296kWh] = 306kWh. An entirely different answer, for now an EXTENDED and DIFFERENT SET.

If we also consider, "Well, if we provide this energy provision, then that can support this number of gadgets and behaviours with this energy provision, or even more gadgets with a more efficient provision, and/or more gadgets if we - what the heck - add yet more energy provision still..." we are SUSTAINING all manner of behaviours and provisions that are WANTED, but not necessarily at all NEEDED. As such, we may be opening Pandora's Box to even more future creations that MAY be unsustainable as far as Planet Earth is concerned. Add this Future supported reality to the now New Set : [1, 2, 3, 4, 296, Future added gadgets & impacts supported and/or opened the door to] = Larger number still. Then add to the Set Environmental and Ecological, Mineral, Mind & Body, Social, etc. impacts and we get a completely different Set and completely different answer and set of figures again!

E.g. in Chapter 5, 'Planes', air travel was treated as if it's only energy-related factor were burning the calorific value of the fuel. It did not, if I recall correctly, consider EVERY aspect of that ACTUALLY goes to make and to operate aircraft, avionics, the aviation industry, and its allied design and support industries, and thus air travel. Plus there are the net DYNAMIC effects of contrails and atmospheric pollution & aerosols which were not factored into the SET and thus numbers attained. Additionally, changes in the scale and development of air travel over time were not factored in. Etc. What that MEANS is that the SET which gave the numbers in your book WAS NOT the SET that Nature experiences as the Whole in that chapter. Then there is the change, (esp. Short-term exponential increase) in Human Population, and assumed desires...

Which is most important?: (a) To 'sustain' human life in association with Planet Earth as far as Planet Earth is concerned?, or (b) To make life easy to read for homo sapiens, and to 'sustain' homo sapiens getting what they think that they want to 'sustain', with numbers from a small Set used in evidence?

I do hope that this feedback be taken in a constructive manner, given the potentially serious Cry Wolf implications otherwise.

Daniel A said...

David, your book is mentioned by name in Bill Gates's TED talk http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/767 around minute 17.