Sunday, June 28, 2020

Voyager Sisters - R.I.S.

March 13, 2025 - The latest efforts in getting in contact with the Voyager probes have not been successful and today it was officially announced that we have lost the contact with them forever. The last signal from Voyager 1 was received in November 2020 and from Voyager 2 in March 2020.

Voyager 1 was launched into space in September 1977 with the primary target to explore Jupiter and Saturn and their moons and rings. It is today the farthest human-made object from Earth, with a distance of about 22.6 billion kilometers from our Sun, or 150 times farther away from the Sun than Earth. Voyager 1 was also the first human object to enter interstellar space about 10 years ago.

The reason for the lost contact is lack of power from the three radioisotope thermoelectric generators, that is needed for the Voyagers to set the antenna towards Earth to be able to uphold contact.

When launching the Voyagers greetings were included from us earthlings to any form of life that would get in contact with the spacecraft. It was samples of natural sounds, pictures and spoken greetings in fifty-five languages.

There is no question that there are other life in the Universe, but if they find a Voyager the chance that our greetings would mean anything to them would be minimal. Considered that our solar system is 4.6 billion years, other life forms might be 10 million years behind us in development and will not have any use for the package inside and will probably just try to eat it.

If they are 10 million years ahead of us they have most likely mapped up our planet better than we have, with better pictures and even sounds from Earth, than we have included in the probes.

There are no new unmanned spacecrafts planned for further exploration of our solar system at the moment, the focus is on setting up space habitat, like Starbright on the Moon and the first manned Mars mission expected in year 2031.

Even though Voyager 1 has been on the road for some time, it will take another 40,000 years before it encounters another star and will then do it by passing by at a distance of “only” 1.6 light years. 

New Cancer Cases

November 15, 2020 - The number of new cases of cancer this year will exceed 16 million worldwide for the first time. This is an increase with 60% compared to 20 years ago and is due to the growing and aging population, and adoption of unhealthy lifestyles.

Tobacco is still the biggest single source for developing malignant tumors and lung cancer the most common form of cancer. The relative risk for a regular smoker to develop lung cancer compared to a non-smoker is between 20 and 30 times higher. Even involuntary tobacco smoke may increase the lung cancer risk by 20 percent.

The connection between smoking and lung cancer was already established in a report in 1957. They then estimated that the mortality rate caused by lung cancer had doubled from 1945 to 1955. Today, more than 10 million people worldwide dies from smoking every year.

The best way to avoid getting cancer is staying away from cancer-causing agents like tobacco and industrial carcinogens. It is also important to stay healthy with physical activity, and in general avoid fat food, refined carbohydrates and animal protein. Since there is still no cure for cancer, the best way to deal with cancer is early detection. In that way patients can start treatment as soon as possible which gives a lower mortality rate.

Oil Price to Reach US$ 350

January 12, 2020 - Even though the oil price crossed another barrier earlier this week with US$ 320 a barrel, we have probably not seen the end of it. With the stumbling of the world's current oil production even higher oil prices are to expect in the future. 1

When Saudi Arabia officially announced in 2013 that the oil production in Ghawar, the biggest oil field in the world, was significantly decreasing, the price for a barrel passed US$ 200. The current total world production of oil is 91 million barrels a day. To get down to the same oil price as before 2013, adjusted for inflation, an estimated world production increase of about 10% is needed.

This can only be achieved in three deposits in the world, Green River Oil Shale in the US, Athabasca Oil Sand in Canada, or Orinoco Oil Sand in Venezuela. However, all of them are extremely stressed at the moment with full capacity, which prevent them from increasing production for a lower oil price.

Some people also set their hopes for an increased output of the drilling in the deepwaters of the Gulf of Mexico. However, since the start of the production six years ago, it has not reached a substantial level to make a significant impact on the oil supply. 

Even though the production eventually will increase at these sites, it will not match the current loss of production at conventional oil fields in the world, which means that we have passed the peak of world oil production. This will increase the oil price even more in the near future, some analysts believe it can reach as high as US$ 350 a barrel before the year ends. Hopes that were earlier set to find new reserves is now basically only focused on more efficient output from the three major sites.

US has made giant investments during the last decade in the Green River deposit, which is projected to reach a production of 1.6 million barrels a day this year. Since that is still not enough, US put a constant pressure on Canada for a higher output from Athabasca of another 1 million barrels a day, apart from current production of 3.7 million.

US is the country that consumes most oil in the world with about 22.5 million barrels a day. 71% of the total oil consumption in the US is used for transportation, which includes gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and residual fuel oil. Gasoline has been the dominant oil product for almost a century, and 40% of all oil consumed in the US end up in a fuel tank of a car.

The main adjustment to a higher oil price in the last decade has been the shift to less gasoline consuming cars, but so far only about 10% of the American car fleet consist of hybrids. The main reason for the slow transition to a more fuel-efficient fleet is still the lack of a competitive fuel to gasoline.

China is also suffering heavily from the high oil price for their economic growth. Analysts say an oil price at US$ 350 sets back their growth rate with 1.0% of GDP per year compared to the oil price before the Saudi Arabian peak. Even though China has more than doubled their oil consumption during the last 20 years, they are still per capita only using 2.7 barrels per year, compared to 24.4 for the US.

Wind Power

December 18, 2020 - This year shows strong growth for wind power when the total global installed capacity added a record 62,000 MW, making the total capacity more than 680,000 MW. Wind power is by far the renewable source with the largest growth in worldwide capacity during the last decade.

The US was quite slow adopting wind power compared to many European countries, but passed Germany as the biggest producer of wind power in the world in year 2008. Then China passed the US in 2010. US now has a capacity of 141,000 MW compared to 92,000 MW for Germany. China was the country with the strongest growth related to the total capacity, adding another 20% with 154,000 MW installed.

US is though behind Europe when it comes to wind power as part of the total electricity demand, serving only 6%, compared to 12,7% for Europe. Denmark is with 40% still the country with the highest share of wind energy, most likely reaching 50% within the next five years. Even though wind power as a renewable resource has its environmental advantages, the increasing demand for wind power is related to the low cost for the energy output, pressed down with more efficient larger wind turbines and the maturity of the market.

The trend in the last decade of wind energy has been towards more offshore sites. In Europe, offshore now counts for about 11% of all wind power capacity, compared to less than 2% 15 years ago. The already projected wind farms give a forecast of about 50% of the total European capacity to be offshore by year 2030. 

Taming Hurricane Pedro

August 29, 2040 - Analysts believe that the effort in taming the hurricane Pedro is the main reason for it to still be considered a category four hurricane, before it reached the coast of southern Florida today. This is the first time ever a major hurricane has been affected in a measurable way by humans.

The hurricane fighting fleet of airplanes was alerted five days ago and has since then been spraying the ocean surface around Pedro's eye with a mix based on biodegradable oil to slow down the evaporating that feeds the hurricane. Even though progress have been made calculating the development of a hurricane, it is still difficult to determine the exact effect of the spraying, but analysts believe it is the reason that the wind speed has not increased.

It is hard to tell exactly what kind of damages a category five hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale could do to the southern part of Florida. Estimations show that the difference between a category four and five hurricane could equal 10% of the damages, which if Pedro was in a bad mood, could be about US$ 17 billion. If these estimations are correct, the much debated investment in the hurricane fighting fleet was well worth it.

The taming of Pedro gives good hope for the future since the number of hurricanes has increased during the last 30 years, mainly because of the global warming. Hurricanes need a water temperature of at least 27 degrees Celsius which has become more common during this period.

37th Olympics

September 11, 2040 - There are only a couple of days left to the grand opening of the 37th Olympic Games in Abuja in Nigeria this Friday. It is the second time Africa is hosting the Olympics, and the organizers feel confident that it will be the best games ever.

The opening is promised to present "the richness and flavors that Nigeria and Africa have to offer". The big happening during the opening will be the 16 meters high 3-D projected Nigerian dancers that will swing across the field, accompanied by thousands human ones. They also promise a couple of special surprises for the opening party.

As any major sports event this has also been preceded by the questions of doping and the way to fight it, but we can only hope that these games will be as clean as possible. No more sports have been added for these Olympics, so the newest ones are still climbing and windsurfing.

The closing of the games will be on September 30, the day before Nigeria celebrates 80 years as an independent nation.

Argument: Africa is still the only continent (except Antarctica) that hasn't hosted the Olympic Games but will most likely do so for the first time around year 2024 or 2028. The African countries that have the best chances in getting the Olympics are South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco and Kenya. If the first African Olympics become a success there will most likely follow another one on the continent soon after.

Questions: The most countries that have hosted the summer Olympics have already been established tourist destinations for people from Europe and the US. Will the Olympics in the African countries inspire to a wave of tourists? In what other way will hosting of major sports event, like the World Cup in Soccer year 2010 to be held in South Africa, affect Africa?

1 Million Hydrogen-Fueled Cars

January 19, 2035 - According to the latest statistics presented this week, 1 million hydrogen-fueled cars have now been sold in the US. The figures for last year show an increase in sales by 50% from 2033.

The hydrogen fleet is still dominated by hydrogen-hybrids even though several fuel cell models have been introduced in the market during the last couple of years. The price for a hydrogen-hybrid is still about 20% higher than for a regular gasoline-hybrid, which make it more expensive to own and drive. The reason for the sale increase is more related to the hydrogen hype for environmental purposes, although mainly all hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels, like natural gas.

The latest environmental effort is the introduction of the Re-Hydro label last year to stimulate the production of hydrogen produced through electrolysis, based on a source of 100% renewable energy. The production is still quite limited and it is only available at selected stations. The current price is about 10% over the regular price for hydrogen, and will most likely not have a major impact until more producers switch from regular production to Re-Hydro.

The transition to hydrogen in the US is moving slow compared to a country like Iceland where already 80% of the car fleet runs on hydrogen. They are planning to set a date of when to shut down the last gasoline pump on Iceland, and it looks like it will be around the year 2040. When that day arrives in the US it will mean a lot to the global environment.