A Guide to Zeta Energy

img_2531Found – A Plain Man’s Guide to Zeta by John Maddox (Manchester Guardian, 1958). It was in a collection of pamphlets from the library of the late political cartoonist David Low which surfaced in Cambridge. The cover and a few illustrations in its 14 pages are by him. Zeta was a British thermo-nuclear machine, proclaimed here as a ‘sun on earth.’  It was a project from Metropolitan Vickers at the Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment that ultimately failed because they could not achieve fusion. There is much on it at Wikipedia, ZETA stood for ‘Zero Energy Thermo-Nuclear Assembly.’ Deuterium from the ocean was a key element according to the pamphlet:

The oceans contain some 330 million cubic miles of water. If we were to extract all the deuterium from this mass of water, and then to burn it as a thermo-nuclear fuel, the energy we should win would be equivalent to 500000000000000000000000 tons of coal. This would last the wold, at its present rate of consumption of all fuels, for about a hundred million million years. This interval of time, it will be noticed, is about thirty thousand times as great as the estimated age of the solar system. Clearly, there is no conceivable way in which we could use up deuterium in a thermo-nuclear furnace in such a way that we could make a perceptible difference to the world’s stock of it.

These facts point to the main significance of deuterium as a fuel. It is so abundant that we cannot conceivably have to worry about supplies of it. 

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The Wheel of Orffyreus 2

The second and last part of a chapter from this fascinating forgotten work Oddities: A Book of Unexplained Facts (Allan, London 1928) by R.T. Gould. Gould was a polymath who appears to have tolerated fools and cranks gladly...however Johann Bessler was no fool (although he may have been insane) and no less a figure than the philosopher Leibniz and  and the scientist and Newtonian Willem Jacob 's Gravesande thought he had the secret of perpetual motion. Gould gets to the heart of the matter -as always with footnotes blazing...

Was Orffyreus honestly deceived when he wrote down such an incorrect description (for so we must regard it)† of his own mechanism? The thing is unlikely–but it is possible, as a later case has sufficiently shown.

 † The supposition that the wheel was kept going by external power does not, of course, exclude the possibility that it also contained "overbalancing" mechanism. If well made, this would waste very little power, though it could not generate any: and it would certainly impress an amateur mechanic like the Landgrave–the only man who ever saw it.

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The Wheel of Orffyreus 1

Yet another chapter from this fascinating forgotten work Oddities: A Book of Unexplained Facts (Allan, London 1928) by R.T. Gould. Gould was a polymath who appears to have tolerated fools and cranks gladly...however Johann Bessler was no fool (although he may have been insane) and no less a figure than the philosopher Leibniz and  and the scientist and Newtonian Willem Jacob 's Gravesande thought he had the secret of perpetual motion. Gould gets to the heart of the matter -as always with footnotes blazing...this is the first part:-


ORFFYREUS' WHEEL

The history of human folly, on any scale commensurate with the vast and "ever-increasing amount of material available, remains to be written. A casual effort in this direction was made by Sebastian Brant, who published his Ship of Fools* in 1494. But while this book may have inspired Erasmus to take up the cudgels "for self and fellows", and produce his Praise of Folly,† its satire fell, for the most part, on deaf ears. Centuries later an atrabilious Scotsman, peering at the world from an anacoustic study in Chelsea, recorded his conviction that it was peopled by "too many millions, mostly fools”–a sweeping statement, but embodying an essential truth. Most of those, for example, who have had experience (internal or otherwise) of Government Departments can testify to having, like Oxenstiern, been amazed at discovering how little wisdom it takes to govern the world; and if there be any truth in the often-quoted assertion that "a nation gets the government it deserves”, Carlyle's apothegm must be regarded as resting upon a very solid–one might even say dense–basis of fact.

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