Monday, March 31, 2008

Can Gymnasium become a power plant?

We have all seen today's world economy is depended highly upon resources, especially energy resources. Much of the world political conflict are around the competition of natural resources. The development of green technology to generate energy power thus becomes the top priority in most countries' development agenda. It is a recent news about a young kid designed a man-powered washing machine. So my idea came from two parts of recent technology development:

First is about collecting the man power. It is an exciting field, but actually nothing new. In the Netherlands, most bikes have a dynamo to generate enough power to light up for bikes, both front and back light. It is just a little dynamo touching the inside surface of the rolling front wheel. You can control whether to let it work or not just by moving it towards or away from the wheel. So it is easy to let it work when it is dark. So this power is generated and used immediately. It is not saved for other uses.

Recently, similar dynamos are designed to attach to human body's move. US and Canadian scientists have built a novel device - a bionic dynamo that effortlessly harvests energy from human movements. It can generate enough energy to power a mobile phone for 30 minutes from one minute of walking. The basic idea is similar to the design of the hybrid car. When you walk, the part of your stride that is before your foot hit the ground, there is power used for braking to slow your steps down. That part can be collected.

The second part of my idea is about selling electricity back to the grid. It seems that in UK it is already a possibility if you can generate more electricity than you needs. When you have a wind mill or solar panel that is possible to generate more than your own needs, you can set up a meter and monitor how much you refill back to the grid. The energy company will pay you back for the amount you created.

So my idea is about collecting and selling electricity back to the grid. Isn't the gymnasium the great place for this invention? There is not need, maybe, to collect individual muscle power. But all those treadmills are the most powerful collector of man-power. There must be a way to collect them. The gym can be operated together as a generator for the national grid. Currently all these energy were wasted if not making all those treadmills worn out.
The amount of money it generated might be quite enough to cover the operation cost. It might be necessary to attach a meter to calculate how much power you produce, rather than how much calories you burned. If you produce a certain amount of power, you can use the gym for free. Isn't this great? People would feel like to going to gym because they are also contributing to the society, and it is free!

Let me know if you think this is a great idea. Also let me know if you want to start to explore it. I haven't done enough calculation to prove it really economic feasible. It is just an exciting idea in my mind recently.

The image is from here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Experiencing China's censorship

It is astonishing for me to realize that your yahoo email might be blocked to China through its content. Here are the threads between me and a friend in China about the recent issue about Tibet. The exchange was fine till I received her email yesterday. When I tried to send today, it was bounced back continuously. I later sent an email just saying I am trying whether my email can go through, it went. The previous try with content only with her last email message, was also returned as:

Hi. This is the qmail-send program at
I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out.
Hope she can manage to get out of the firewall to see my reply here.
The colored part is from me.

I know you are very busy with your work. The recent news in Tibet brought my attention to your city. I read this just now, 3月18日,成都发生了极度惨烈的事情,几乎在同一时间,分别在成都的东面、西面、南面同时发生了藏族人恐怖的袭击活动。


我觉得一个有矛盾的社会是一个正常的社会,但如果政府总是想把所有的矛盾掩盖起来,就是不正常的了。昨天有20名外国记者被‘邀请’去西藏采访,当然是一切安排好的行程。今天又有许多的报道。最近两天国内的网络解禁了BBC News,我认为是国际上相对公正的新闻网站,你有空可以看看。

Update: I tested several times with several email addresses to see where the problems occurred. It seems that the problem might not be with yahoo. Email with similar contents were also bounced back sending from other email addresses. Emails without sensitive words went well. I am not sure how this worked. Does this mean that the server at the other end is censoring my email?

Censorship not only in China

We recently invited a Dutch couple with their 13 years old daughter home for a Sunday lunch. After eating, we let the girl watch the recent Oscar Cartoon Ratatoulli, and four of us had a nice talk. If you haven't seen this, I would suggest you watch it, if you also like cooking like me.

One thing struck me during the conversation was a story they told us when we were talking about the recent anti-Muslim film made by far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders. Mr. told us that several years ago, there was an affair happened in between two politicians found out by some people. I tried to Google this story, but couldn't find it. What is interesting to me is what happened next: Media came in, and later decided to cover it!

This doesn't sound right to me to happen in a country like the Netherlands. Isn't this self-censorship? I do not know what went on that time, and there might be some logic in that situation. I do feel that a free media is so important in preventing bad things happen in the society. Certainly I am for the social censorship that stops things like pornography in the media. But for political reasons, trying to hide things will always lead more troubles in later time.

This is also very true in our daily life. Be relaxed and open, hiding can take away a lot of unnecessary trouble in your daily life. My impression of my Chinese friends circle, is that many people being secretive. It lacks some degree of openness that make me feel free to interact with. In terms of this, I found similarities among Dutch people. I should try to attract some dutch audience to my blog, so that I can have some debate on this. If you feel that I am similarly secretive, let me know, and ask me what you want to know :-)

To make this post a little longer, here are some sentences of Chinese interpreted by a western blogger, quite right and interesting. (You can find even more in the link, and i just copy a few here.) It deserves some reflections.

1) You're a foreigner, you wouldn't understand

I'm Chinese and I don't understand either, but I'm not going to admit it

2) Because China has 5000 years of history

A) Because I can't think of a better reason right now
B) ..... Just because

3) Things are different here

I know that it's messed-up, but I'm too stubborn to admit it

4) In China people think.....

In China the government tells us to think.....

5) Do you have a Chinese girlfriend?

My cousin is ugly but of childbearing age

6) Tibet is an integral part of China

A) I can name you the leaders of every Chinese dynasty for the last 5000 years, but not one incarnation of the Dali-Lama
B) If you can have outposts all over the world, why shouldn't we.

7) Taiwan is an integral part of China

They said it on CCTV1, so it must be true

8) The situation in China is much better than it used to be

A) The situation in Beijing and Shanghai is much better than it used to be
B) .... unless you're a farmer