Seeing the Round Corners

HEADS UP, the new day for Seeing the Round Corners “GOING LIVE” is Tuesday each week.

August 31, 2021


As promised, here are some of the unique innovations many ordinary Americans may not have heard of.


Whether you are a fan of labor unions or not, the Boilermaker Union took part in recent work that built stainless steel vacuum tubes in advanced scientific test facilities in Washington and Louisiana that contributed to a major break through in physics and astronomy. (All information on gravitational waves was provided by Boilermaker International Union.)
Earlier this year, scientists “announced that for the first time ever mankind has detected gravitational waves that were postulated by Albert Einstein 100 years ago as part of his general theory of relativity.
Research and analysis resulted in the thought or idea that “the ability to detect and measure those waves could lead to a greater understanding of the origin and operation of the universe.  Gravitational waves are evidence of a rippling effect in space-time caused by massive cosmic events such as exploding stars or black hole activity, according to Einstein’s theory.”

To prove gravitational waves exist, twin observatories were built at the end of the 20th century – one in Hanford, Washington, the other in Livingston, Louisiana. The work was funded by the National Science Foundation and administered by the California Institute of Technology.

To convey the magnitude of this project, three companies – CBI Services, Boilermakers from Local 342 (Spokane, WA), 582 (Baton Rouge, LA) and the National Transient Lodge manufactured and built 10 miles of special-fabricated close-tolerance, stainless steel tubing to contain laser beams in a vacuum. By monitoring changes in those beams, scientists believed they could detect the presence of gravitational waves. After years of testing and upgrades, they were successful.

Such a monumental accomplishment received little notoriety. The facilities and the program are referred to as LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave). More than 1,000 scientists worldwide are engaged in the research.

Z Pulsed Power Facility

Described as “science serving the nation,” the Z machine was created to validate nuclear weapons models, and is also in the race for viable fusion energy.

Built at the Sandia National Laboratories, the Z machine is the world’s most powerful and efficient laboratory radiation source. It uses high magnetic fields associated with high electrical currents to produce high temperatures, high pressures, and powerful X-rays for research in high energy density science. The Z machine creates conditions found nowhere else on Earth, and is part of Sandia’s Pulses Power program, which began in the 1960s.

Regarding science, Z provides the fastest, most accurate and cheapest method to determine how materials will react under high pressures and temperatures, characteristics that can be expressed in formulas called “equations of state.”

The Z machine’s role in solving the world’s energy challenges is directly tied to its fusion potential. With growing concerns about the health of our planet and escalating
energy needs, the development of fusion technology is especially promising.

Fusion is the process by which two atomic nuclei are joined together.  As an unconfined event, fusion has long been used in the development of weapons. Its great potential as a new source of energy, which depends on scientists’ ability to harness its power in computer simulations.

The Z machine is crucial to Sandia’s mission to ensure the reliability and safety of our nuclear stockpile as it ages – it allows scientists’ to study materials under conditions similar to those produced by the detonation of a nuclear weapon, and it produces key data used to validate physics models in computer simulations.

Concentrating Solar Power 
(Information provided by the U. S. Department of Energy Loan Programs Office)
At Ivanpah Dry Lake, California, a 392-MW concentrating solar power plant was placed in operation in 2014, and as the world’s largest Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) facility, upon completion, it nearly doubled the amount of solar thermal energy produced in the United states in previous years.

Ivanpah’s technology innovation is quite impressive. The plant uses tower solar thermal technology to generate power by creating high-temperature steam to drive a conventional steam turbine. Mirrors are used to concentrate sunlight and create steam, which is then converted to electricity.

Ivanpah also employs an innovative system of software-controlled mirrors —called heliostats – that follow the sun and reflect it onto water-filled boilers atop three separate 450 foot towers on the site. When the sunlight hits the boilers, the water inside is heated and created high temperature steam. The steam is then piped to conventional steam turbines, which generate electricity.

The economic impact of Ivanpah created 1,000 construction jobs and is expected to support 61 permanent jobs. In addition, the majority of the project’s supply
was sourced in the United States, with components and services coming from at least eighteen states.

Ivanpah is expected to generate 940,000 megawatt-hours of clean energy per year and prevent 500,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.

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