Posted by Jeff Id on September 3, 2010
Often we here about energy shortage, followed by energy conservation. In my opinion it’s the dumbest two statements anyone can make in polite conversation without being punched in the nose. Almost equally as often, I’m referred to as an extremist myself. So what does that mean?
From Wikipedia the total non-renewable reserve is:
The estimates of remaining non-renewable worldwide energy resources vary, with the remaining fossil fuels totaling an estimated 0.4 YJ (1 YJ = 1024J)
Renewable energy as a phrase, is equally as physics ignorant as flying by lifting up on your feet, or hooking a generator up to the back tires of your car to power the front. Thanks to public education, it is as mainstream a term as recycling.
From this link, global energy consumption is 4 x 1020 J/yr or about 1000 years of totally available fossil fuel. Sounds scary except that mankind has only just learned to use energy for things other than heat a couple hundred years ago.
We’ve all heard of E = m c^2 but what does it mean in terms of energy?
speed of light c is 300,000,000 meters per second.
If ‘m’ (mass) is 1 g you have 90,000,000,000,000 or 9 x1013 joules of energy from a single gram of mass. — A single paperclip.
So to replace 100% of the energy stored in all the estimated fossil fuels on earth requires:
.4 x or 4 x 1023 divided by 9 x 1013 or 4.4 109 which is 4.4 billion grams of mass to replace all the estimated fossil fuel on earth.
Just how much is 4.4 billion grams?
Well pure water has 1,000,000 grams per cubic meter so that would mean 4400 cubic meters of water.
That’s a lot of water for sure but how big is it.
The cube root of 4400 is: A block of water sixteen meters on a side.
A cube of pure water sixteen meters (52 feet) on a side can replace all the fossil fuel energy on earth.
All of it.
E = mc^2
But look at this quote
world energy consumption is about 500 EJ or about 5.5 metric tons of matter, and U.S.A. consumption is equivalent to about 1.17 metric tons. The mass of fuels burned is, of course, much higher
The world equivalent energy usage is 5.5 tons of matter. Holy crap, it’s like a couple of bathtubs of water per year!! Not that it has to be water. It could be granite, or at these rates gold or even Paris Hilton’s personal diamonds would be affordable as an energy fuel.
From the same link:
According to the Energy Information Administration‘s statistics, the per-capita energy consumption in the US has been somewhat consistent from the 1970s to today. The average has been 335.9 million BTUs per person from 1980 to 2006
336 million btu is equal to 354,000 ,000,000 Joules.
Which dividing by c^2 is 0.000004 grams of mass per person in America (which Bart Verheggen calls over-consumption). In a 80 year lifetime that adds up to 0.1 grams of mass converted to energy at your whim by American gas guzzling standards. A US penny weighs 2.5 grams. So 250 people can get together and run their boats, cars, trucks, SUV’s, air conditioners, freezers and whaever else FOR THEIR ENTIRE LIVES, for the mass of a penny.
From a more serious bit of history:
“Little Boy” was the codename of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 by the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets of the 393d Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, of the United States Army Air Forces. It was the first atomic bomb to be used as a weapon. The second, the “Fat Man“, was dropped three days later on Nagasaki.
The weapon was developed by the Manhattan Project during World War II. It derived its explosive power from the nuclear fission of uranium 235. The Hiroshima bombing was the second artificial nuclear explosion in history, after the Trinity test, and the first uranium-based detonation. Approximately 600 milligrams of mass were converted into energy. It exploded with energy between 13 and 18 kilotons of TNT (54 and 75 TJ)
0.6 grams of matter ended WWII — half the mass of a small paperclip.
The same energy 6 Americans will 0ver-consume in their lifetimes. The largest atomic bomb ever detonated was 57 megatons, or 2.3 x 1017 joules equivalent to 2.6 grams of mass or an entire US penny converted to energy in a single moment.
Why the post on mass and energy, because the entire concept of energy shortage and conservation of energy is so far beyond bogus, it’s not worth discussing. But more than that, consider what it means for our energy future.
Human’s are stupid. We are.. For god’s sakes Mann sorts data by correlation and publishes it in the most prestigious journals in the WORLD.
We’re not that damned bright folks… sorry. Not me, not you, nobody.
It is a perfectly reasonable assumption that we will be able to convert mass to energy at will someday. I’m just damned glad that god (or luck if you prefer), made it difficult enough that it hasn’t happened by accident.
It was only a hundred and thirty years ago that we figured out how to make a car. A friggin car, with pistons and ugly valves, friction, carnot cycles and the whole bit. A car. It was only thirty years ago I saw my first microwave, and about 40 for the color TV.
We are far too young as a species to even consider messing with the planet.
Below is how I see humanity:
Of course I’m one of the humans depicted with slightly more fur than actual in the movie, and by the above video admit my own limitations. It does remind me of Joe Romm repairing his own car though. hehe But this is where we as a species are at on the ladder of physics in my opinion. There is a lot of work to be done, but how amazing is it that we can’t release the energy around us more easily? How glad should we be that it’s not easy? We could destroy the entire world if a single kilogram of mass were be released at once.
Finally, why the hell is solar or wind power the answer to our energy needs but NUCLEAR/ fission/fusion/etc. isn’t? After reading the above numbers, how stupid is the concept of working on wind development to save the atmosphere vs nuclear????
So the next time someone tells you of an energy shortage, let them know of the far bigger problem, mosquito shortage.
I wonder how many mosquitoes there are in a gram?
On a sci-fi note, what if we do learn the technology required to release the energy from a Kg of mass at once. Perhaps the god of physics isn’t as benevolent as we hoped.
If we find the key, OMG, we had better have our crap together.