Insight Things

A scientific blog revealing the hidden links which shape our world

Category: Slice of Life (page 1 of 2)

Replacing fossil fuels – Feasible?

Fossil fuels will vanish in the future – for sure! What we don’t know is the exact point in time when this is going to happen. Based on the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016, we find that fossil fuels will last up to 100 years. Proven oil reserves, which will last for the next 50 years, are expected. However, BP has an interest in keeping the energy reserve numbers great: Any other message would make the oil price jump up and renewable energy would become less unattractive. Especially when considering the rising demand for energy (e. g. in China) we need to prepare for earlier shortages. But what does it take to substitute fossil energy sources by renewable ones?

World energy consumption in 2014 mainly adopted from the simplified energy balance sheet table of the IEA; an asterisk (*) indicates that the data was not fine-grained enough to guarantee full accuracy

World energy consumption in 2014 mainly adopted from the simplified energy balance sheet table of the IEA; an asterisk (*) indicates that the data was not fine-grained enough to guarantee full accuracy [1][2]

Not only do the numbers reflect an incredible thirst for energy, but it also shows to which extent we damage earth by exploiting these resources. The bottom line is that this energy supply from coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy (~107,000 TWh) must be substituted. What are the options?

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References   [ + ]

1. “Key world energy statistics”. International Energy Agency.
2. “Nuclear power in the world today”. World Nuclear Association.

Rain Risk: Too much detail?

I like white sneakers and I don’t want them to become dirty. That’s why I always check on the next day’s precipitation probability. If I intend to leave only for a couple hours, then the breakdown of the rain risk is of particular interest to me. When comparing the probabilities on hourly and daily basis I could rarely figure out the relationship between both. Consider the following weather forecast:

Fictional weather forecast on daily and 6-hours basis

Fictional weather forecast on daily and 6-hours basis

For simplicity I chose to present the rain risk for periods of 6 hours length. Anyway, in what way are the daily rain risk of 40% and its breakdown of 20% over 12 hours related? Can we trust the weather forecast’s statements anyway? This article will discuss the topic.

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Paradox when rolloing a coin – Lincoln upside down

Those of you who have read previous articles of mine already know that I like tricky questions – especially if they don’t look too complicated in the first place. Here’s one for you to try: Does the penny make a half or a full rotation when rolling it around another penny?

Would you expect Mr Lincoln to show his head upside down?

Would you expect Mr Lincoln to show his head upside down?

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Guessing Numbers – A Statistics Miracle

Imagine that a friend of yours would like to play a game. Your friend writes down two different numbers on two separate slips which you cannot spot. Afterwards you are allowed to choose one of the slips and read the number written on it. The game’s goal is to make a rough guess on the value of the second number.

You know the number of the slip which you chose to see first - but will the second number be greater or less than the first one?

You think there is a 50:50 chance for guessing correctly? Although you may not believe it: The probability for a success is definitely higher when you apply the following strategy! more →

Toilet Paper Physics – The Art of Tissue

One day when I spent some day in the smallest room of my company, I really got annoyed by the toilet paper getting ripped off after the first piece of paper. Maybe you have also experienced this, especially when a toilet paper dispenser like the one shown below is involved.

Toilet paper dispenser showing unpleasant behaviour

Toilet paper dispenser showing unpleasant behaviour

There is kind of an unwind impediment integrated in these dispensers which makes you pull hard on the loo paper. That’s why it becomes so evident that the position where the toilet paper breaks is influenced by how you pull it. Anyway, the following explanations account for usual toilet paper consumption as well 😉 more →

High fuel consumption in winter

My dad told me that a car’s fuel economy is bad in winter, because the engine has to heat a lot more. Well, I read about cold engines, low tire pressure, higher rolling resistance and so on. They didn’t convince me. All together have a substantial impact,  I admit, but the most important factor of fuel consumption is not discussed sufficiently! more →

Wind strength and fuel consumption

Imagine you drive in your car against head wind and later you return with tail wind. When asked, most people tend to say that the force of the wind on average equals the situation when there is no wind at all. This is surprising since the same people will tell you that the air resistance (the aerodynamic drag) increases as the squared velocity increases. I will show you why wind is substantial when discussing causes of high fuel consumption! more →

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