International Electrotechnical Commission : World Plugs

International Electrotechnical Commission has a very handy (especially before travelling to a foreign country) list of different plugs (a total of 14 at the time of this writing), mapped to countries of the world.  So if you don’t have one of these:


make sure you check the list before you fly out.  And while on the topic of this great variety, IEC also explains why there are so many and if this annoyance will ever be sold:

The IEC issued its International Standard for a universal plug in the 1970s; so far it has been adopted by Brazil and South Africa. It is unlikely that there will be a run on the standard in the near future. Literally hundreds of millions of plugs and sockets have been installed and who would convince a country to invest now in changing its whole infrastructure?

Most likely the future will lie with solutions such as the USB plug or possibly a multi-plug that can accommodate many different plugs, or even new technologies such as LVDC (low voltage direct current) or wireless charging mechanisms.

Thorium-Fueled Automobile Engine Needs Refueling Once a Century

Thorium-Fueled Automobile Engine Needs Refueling Once a Century

Current models of the engine weigh 500 pounds, easily fitting into the engine area of a conventionally-designed vehicle. According to CEO Charles Stevens, just one gram of the substance yields more energy than 7,396 gallons (28,000 L) of gasoline and 8 grams would power the typical car for a century.

The idea of using thorium is not new. In 2009, Loren Kulesus designed the Cadillac World Thorium Fuel Concept Car. LPS is developing the technology so it can be mass-produced.

Atmospheric electricity

Last night, I stepped out on the balcony to enjoy the thunderstorm.  It wasn’t too windy or too rainy, but the lightnings and thunders were rather violent.  In the middle of the night, long strikes across the whole sky were lighting the city as bright as midday.  That was something!

And that also got me thinking.  There is so much energy up in the sky, is there any way to extract it and use it?  I’ve heard that there was some work done on the issue.  And, given that I wasn’t the best student at school, but I still remember the fact that most of the lightning energy is spent on the actual light and on warming up the air.  But, I thought, one day we’ll find a way to catch lightnings before they happen, and collect all that energy.  That would be very useful, even though it would probably destroy the magnificence of the thunderstorm.

This morning I went online to see if I can find anything interesting on the subject.  There are plenty of resources out there, but nothing special has caught my attention yet.  Here’s the obligatory Wikipedia page:

There is always free electricity in the air and in the clouds, which acts by induction on the earth and electromagnetic devices. Experiments have shown that there is always free electricity in the atmosphere and that it is the quickest electricity connection, which is sometimes negative and sometimes positive, but most generally positive, and the intensity of this free electricity is greater in the middle of the day than at morning or night and is greater in winter than in summer. In fine weather, the potential increases with altitude at about 30 volts per foot (100 V/m).

The atmospheric medium, by which we are surrounded, contains not only combined electricity, like every other form of matter, but also a considerable quantity in a free and uncombined state; sometimes of one kind, sometimes of the other; but as a general rule it is always of an opposite kind to that of the Earth. Different layers, or strata, of the atmosphere, located at only small distances from each other, are frequently found to be in different electric states. The phenomena of atmospheric electricity are of three kinds. There are the electrical phenomena of thunderstorms and there are the phenomena of continual electrification in the air. The phenomena of the polar auroras constitute a third branch of the subject.

Fukushima butterflies mutations

Fukushima butterflies mutations

Genetic mutations have been found in three generations of butterflies living near Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. The gruesome discovery has led scientists to fear that the leaking radiation could affect other species.

The study was published by Scientific Reports. Researches said that around 12 per cent of pale grass blue butterflies that had been exposed as larvae to nuclear fallout developed abnormalities, including broken or wrinkled wings, changes in wing size, color pattern changes, and wider-than-normal variations in numbers of spots on the butterflies.

Though the insects were mated in a lab well outside the fallout zone, about 18 per cent of their offspring displayed similar problems, said Joji Otaki, an associate professor at Ryukyu University in Okinawa, in southwestern Japan.

That figure rose to 34 per cent in the third generation of butterflies – even though one parent from each coupling was from a group unaffected by radiation.

Researchers also collected another 240 butterflies in Fukushima last September, six months after the disaster. Abnormalities were recorded in 52 per cent of that group’s offspring – “a dominantly high ratio,” Otaki told AFP.

Atomic physics resources

Doing my duty in promotion of knowledge and science, I bring you this collection of resources on atomic physics.  With the way the world goes, who knows when you’d need a quick reference to some research.  And, in case you are a bit rusty on what atomic physics is, here is a quick quote for you from the Wikipedia.

Atomic physics (or atom physics) is the field of physics that studies atoms as an isolated system of electrons and an atomic nucleus. It is primarily concerned with the arrangement of electrons around the nucleus and the processes by which these arrangements change. This includes ions as well as neutral atoms


The term atomic physics is often associated with nuclear power and nuclear bombs, due to the synonymous use of atomic and nuclear in standard English. However, physicists distinguish between atomic physics — which deals with the atom as a system consisting of a nucleus and electrons — and nuclear physics, which considers atomic nuclei alone.

As with many scientific fields, strict delineation can be highly contrived and atomic physics is often considered in the wider context of atomic, molecular, and optical physics. Physics research groups are usually so classified.

Is Cyprus ready for the oil and gas exploration?

Cyprus Mail reports that “President will not be put off drilling for gas“:

“We have decided that Noble Energy will proceed in the forthcoming period with the exploratory drilling to find out the quantity and the quality of hydrocarbons,” he said.

The president added that drilling would provide clear evidence of whether potential deposits exist, something for which geological surveys have shown “the probability is very high”.

Christofias highlighted it was Cyprus’ sovereign right, based on international law and the Law of the Sea, to start gas exploration in its EEZ, underlining that “all our decisions and actions so far, stem from international law and strictly fall into this parameter”.

Given how the President handled the Mari naval base explosion, I wouldn’t trust the guy with the keys to my car, let alone drilling for gas.  I mean, I am for Cyprus benefiting from these resources and all.  But a project like that is legally, technically, financially, and politically huge.  Someone has to organize and manage that.  And current President haven’t shown any particular talent in managing anything yet.  Even of a much smaller and simpler scale.  The potential for disaster is huge here, and I don’t think Cyprus needs another one of those.  Not now, not ever.

Vasilikos power station is gone. Tough times for Cyprus ahead

Cyprus Mail reports that Vasilikos power station was completely destroyed by the explosion.  But we already sort of knew that.  The questions were more along the line of “What now?”.  Cyprus Mail provides some good analysis as to how this will affect Cyprus in the nearest future.

However the cost of this explosion does not just affect in terms of rebuilding, compensating and repairing. The dynamic effects on companies will ensure a return to deep recession, especially if you factor in the effects of the electricity crisis is having in Cypriot companies. The electricity shortage causes three devastating blows to our economy: reliability, capability and cost.

The lack of reliability in electricity provision is a great drag to the economy. Already power cuts are taking place and sadly it seems that since our electricity system is operating at full capacity the authorities have not been able to announce when and where such cuts should occur. As a result business are already suffering from lost labour time, repairing software and hardware issues relating to cuts, and an ever greater need for technical support, all in a period where the focus has been to cut costs and thus remain competitive with other European companies.

Read the full article for more.