Saturday, June 6, 2009

Shift Happens

Shift Happens

This presentation blew my socks off!

It was originally created to help
school administrators think about what curriculum they should be creating for this day and age.

It contains examples of how demographics and exponential functions are affecting the USA and the world in very big ways.

Ie. In 2006, 1.3 million students graduated from college in the USA.

3.1 million graduated in India.

3.3 million graduated in China

India has more honors kids than the USA has kids!

The population of China with the top 25% IQs is bigger than the entire population of North America.

China will soon become the number one English speaking country in the world.

We are preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist using technologies that have not been invented in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet.

And stats on how the explosive growth of the internet and information is affecting us all. Google, Ebay, Myspace, Youtube, publishing.

See an earlier version here:

And definitely check it out!

More info here:

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Jonathan Goodwin and Neil Young's LincVolt

Jonathan Goodwin’s other big project these days is the LincVolt, a modification of Neil Young’s 1959 Lincoln Continental into a plug in hybrid.

On November 2, 2008, Jonathan Goodwin and Neil Young presented the LincVolt at the DreamForce ( conference in San Francisco, and made a big splash.

In the video, Neil talks about his visionary ideas, and Jonathan talks about how he has implemented them in the car. The 500 horsepower electric UQM motor runs on batteries, which can drive the car over 80 miles. When the car runs of battery power, the batteries are charged by a Mazda RX7 rotary engine, fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG). By running the rotary engine on CNG, it is even more efficient than with conventional liquid fuel.

Goodwin says that the energy concept for the car, is very similar to how diesel electric trains are powered. And pointed out that diesel electric trains are some of the most efficient vehicles in the world.

The rotary engine drives a 75 kilowatt generator, which is a LOT of electricity, charging the batteries really fast. You can also plug the car into the house to charge the batteries. However, Jonathan claims that you could also power six houses off the car’s battery! Smart grid, here we come.

The Lincvolt also has multiple sensors in the car from Perrone Robotics that monitors the car. It also sends wireless RSS feeds are sent to the website, which is powered under the covers by There, the general public can see stats such as: MPG, altitude, position, and others. How’s that for web 2.0?

Neil Young has also appeared on Charlie Rose, and David Letterman

One of Neil’s big goals is to eliminate roadside refueling. By using CNG, which is found in the states, we don’t need to import the oil from overseas. These strategies will eliminate much of the distribution cost of the fuel.

Not only that, he’d like to create a car that actually creates its own fuel; onboard refueling. And, not take energy out of the electric grid, but put energy back into the electric grid. If everyone owned a car like this, there would be no more brown outs in the electrical grid. Visionary and ambitious!

One of his thoughts is that just to build a new car requires a certain amount of fuel; about 1000 gallons by his estimate. If he can modify his existing Lincoln, less gasoline is used in the conversion. Not only that, he likes his 1959 Lincoln very much, considering it a work of art.

Jonathan and Neil are now thinking of even better generators for the newer versions of the Lincvolt. So advanced, it’s a little hard to describe. Neil Young says

“We’re putting in a special generator set in it that we are developing in Australia with a scientist and some aeronautics guys that make airplanes that do … long, long, long range airplanes, like a single engine type of prop plane that flew around the world. Both ways, up and down, and around. Very interesting. They use a lot of stuff with heat recovery and everything to make it incredibly efficient. And we use this to … it’s an electric car, so we use this generator for the long range part of it.”

Some other ideas they are considering: using multiple blended fuels at the same time, and displacing part of the fuel with water.

They are looking to win the 10 million dollar X prize, for breaking the 100 MPG barrier. But it’s a labor of love. Because it’s such a big collaboration, it’s not something that any backyard mechanic can do. Partly by using the web, the Lincvolt project is working with companies such as UQM for the electric motor, Uli Kruger and Roger Davies in Australia, robotics expert Paul Perrone,, Sun Microsystems, among others. And, via the Lincvolt website, enthusiasts around the globe send in their ideas.

How is that for collaboration?

Check it out:

Motorhead Messiah - Jonathan Goodwin

It’s hard to summarize all the things that Jonathan Goodwin has been doing with cars, but it’s all really very exciting. And when I say very exciting, I really mean VERY exciting.

He has been converting many large vehicles to be both fuel efficient, and more powerful, at the same time! No trade offs here. Kind of like, twice as fast, with half the work.

His website says that he routinely modifies large “Hummers from gasoline, 325 hp, and 8-12 mpg to eco-friendly biodiesel 650+ horsepower and around 25 miles per gallon.”

One project has been to modify a '65 Chevy Impala, and when the conversion was done, he'd doubled its mileage to 25 mpg and increased its pull from 250 to 800 horsepower.

It was so powerful it actually beat a Lamborghini on the racetrack. Who would have ever thought???

When not modifying Impalas and Hummers into powerful fuel efficient diesels, he is experimenting with a lot of new ideas: converting large vehicles into plug in electric hybrids, lithium ion batteries, compressed natural gas, hydrogen, and turbine engines!

One project is to turn a Hummer into an electric hybrid. But instead of using a diesel engine to charge the batteries, it will use a turbine engine, that you might otherwise find in a military helicopter. “Whenever the truck's juice runs low, the turbine will roar into action for a few seconds, powering a generator with such gusto that it'll recharge a set of "supercapacitor" batteries in seconds.” He estimates that the truck’s horsepower from 300 to 600. Cool!

As far out as all this sounds, Goodwin says that he uses mostly off the shelf parts from GM. And that "Detroit could do all this stuff overnight if it wanted to."

"I can go next door to Ace Hardware and buy a DC electric motor, go out to my four-wheel-drive truck, remove the transmission and engine, bolt the electric motor onto the back of the transfer case, put a series of lead-acid batteries up to 240 volts in the back of the bed, and we're good to go. I guarantee you I could drive all around town and do whatever I need, go home at night, and hook up a couple of battery chargers, plug one into an outlet, and be good to go the next day.

Jonathan’s other big project is the Lincvolt, which is intriguing enough to have it’s own entry.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009


PESWIKI is a cool website highlighting many alternative energy technologies.

See their list of
Top 100 energy technologies here:

Many are really unknown, but very cool, such as the Tiny Yet Mighty engine

"The MYT (Massive Yet Tiny) Engine by inventor Raphial Morgado, is an internal combustion engine of new design the features multiple firings in one cycle, producing enormous torque in a small area.

With 40 times higher power to weight ratio, low parts count, low maintenance, high mechanical efficiency, and low pollution, the MYT™ Engine will benefit airplane, big ship, 18 wheeler, SUV, passenger car, even down to carry on power generator applications. The MYT™ Engine as a pump/compressor also exceeds existing pumps/compressors in providing massive pressure, volume, and flow, all in one unit.

The first prototype model exerts 850 cubic inches of displacement even though the size is only 14" diameter by 14" long, weighing 150 lbs, compared to 3000 lbs for a comparable engine of conventional size capable of that much power output."

Check them out!

My Model Stirling Engine

Check out the model stirling engine I bought from Kontax.

On a single cup of hot water, the flywheel turned for almost 3 hours! And on a single cup of ICE water, it turned in the opposite direction, for over 2 hours! Cool!

See what I wrote about Stirling Engines here:

(Hmm. Is this writing, or reading?)