An introduction

This is a semi-public place to dump text too flimsy to even become a blog post. I wouldn't recommend reading it unless you have a lot of time to waste. You'd be better off at my livejournal. I also have another blog, and write most of the French journal summaries at the Eurozine Review.

Why do I clutter up the internet with this stuff at all? Mainly because I'm trying to get into the habit of displaying as much as possible of what I'm doing in public. Also, Blogger is a decent interface for a notebook

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jet and Coal

Surprising to read in BldgBlog about jet engines being used to put out fires in coal mines.

The engineering field of putting out coal fires has intermittently intrigued me since I heard that they (supposedly) account for as much CO2 emission as all road vehicles in the US. Putting out these fires is an incredible engineering challenge, and one that even the most narrow-minded environmentalist couldn't object to.

So I can't help daydreaming about the kind of organization that could put out the fires. A band of idealistic engineers -- top graduates from Caltech and IIT, grizzled mechanics who've spent decades underground, geologists whose morals wouldn't let them stay in the oil industry. They're funded by a philanthropic tech billionnaire, or perhaps just from carbon offsetting. Together they cross the world, dragging exotic equipment and wrangling McGyver-like contraptions to deal with each mine. One day they land Thunderbird One in Centralia, point the engines down one of the shafts, and finally put out the fires that have been burning for decades.

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