Total Pageviews

Sunday, May 1, 2011


My Chapter 5 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity provides a "scientific" look at miracles.  But first, let's observe the religious version, where one needs to perform two miracles to become a saint.  What are your odds of becoming a saint?  Well, 10,000 have been beatified (step one is to be venerated, beatification is step two towards canonization, which makes you a saint) and 3,000 have made it.  In case you are really interested, the odds are 33 million to one against you (around 100 billion have so far lived on Planet Earth).  But that's the Catholic Church.  You can also become a saint in Japan and other countries, so the potential improves.

Saint Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on 11October2009.  Hawaii celebrates on April 15, the day he passed away.
Pope John Paul II's beatification just occurred.  What was his miracle?  Sister Marie Simon-Pierre described how she and her fellow nuns prayed, seeking Pope John Paul to intervene on her behalf with God to cure her Parkinson's disorder.  One night she woke up cured.  Ah, a miracle.  I don't think he had any idea he was even asked.  He is a cinch to attain sainthood some day soon, for there is a list of thousands of similar "miracles".

You can read if it is possible to recover from Parkinson's in a book by John Coleman.  There are also web sites, such as Road to Recovery, reporting on numerous people who did recover.  So was Sister  Marie's recovery a miracle?  Yes, that is the nature of religion.

I like to balance these man-made miracles with some natural ones, and a report out of the Australian Antarctic Division shows that icebergs calving off from that continent, are, in fact, rich in iron, accumulated over geological time frames from falling dust (no, not from Mars).  What happens is that this metal provides fertilization to initiate phytoplankton growth, leading to growth of  higher order sea life.  This "miracle" works because there is a deficiency of iron in our oceans.

This Australian study confirmed the Martin Experiment conducted in 1993 and a follow-up effort in 2009 that iron, indeed, stimulates growth in the ocean.  That's John Martin on the right.  Interestingly enough, by taking carbon dioxide out of the ocean, this also leads to a reduction of this gas in the atmosphere, which would reduce global warming.  How's this, then, for a double miracle?  When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, considerable iron dust was deposited into our seas, resulting in a decline in atmospheric carbon dioxide and an increase in the oxygen level.

The Blue Revolution speculates that the high nutrients available from the cold water effluent from grazing ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) plantships could well also stimulate growth of life in the ocean, and, perhaps, also reduce global warming.  It is possible that some iron would need to be added, but this high concentration of this "free" natural fertilizer is at the exact Redfield ratio to promote growth because these minerals came from life that flourished near the surface, and decomposed at depth.  Additional details providing the big picture for popular reading can be found in some of my Huffington Post articles.  To the left is a drawing of a possible first at-sea OTEC prototype being designed by Lockheed Martin for Honolulu.

So what is a miracle?  Whatever you want it to be.



matt said...

I have been interested in OTEC technology since reading a magazine article on it in the 80s and am somewhat dismayed that so little progress seems to have been made in the past 30 years.

Do you have any comments on the "mist lift" open cycle design which eliminates both the heat-exchanger and the vapour-phase turbine? Vapour flow is created by spraying the cold water into one end of a chamber saturated with warm water vapour from the surface water, resulting in reduced pressure and warm water vapour flow. Energy is extracted from the liquid-phase flow rather than the gas phase, using existing hydroplant turbine technology. Schematics and details can be found in the pdfs in the online folder here:


I've been out of the field for two decades, but in the nineties, the team I hired at the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research succeeded in gaining net positive using an open cycle design:

This process allowed for more efficient production of freshwater, but was limited by turbine technology. There is some validity for the USDOE further developing this concept, with the turbine being of high priority.

The current Lockheed Martin design uses the closed cycle. We are hoping that a 5MW offshore plant gets built off Barbers Point, Oahu within a few years.