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Author Topic: Why no other similar energy to electricity?  (Read 3574 times)

Offline arumalpra

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Why no other similar energy to electricity?
« on: 05/02/2013 00:21:59 »
Why no other similar energy to electricity? Did we find one interesting thing - electricity- and happily paired with it and lived hundreds of years without thinking other things that can do the same things like electricity does?

So many things in history of science gives similar thoughts.. why one.. why not many.. Did great invention narrow down our path?
« Last Edit: 05/02/2013 00:28:33 by arumalpra »


 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Why no other similar energy to electricity?
« Reply #1 on: 05/02/2013 01:03:32 »
Excellent question.

I think there is truly only one type of "electricity" (not counting antimatter and positrons that aren't stable on Earth). 

Keep in mind that it is not completely homogeneous.
There is:
AC & DC
Your body uses ions to manipulate electricity.
Batteries also use ion exchange to create a "portable" type of electricity.
And, of course, the highly related magnetism. 

There are also other forms of energy transmission.  Most of our automobiles, of course, use hydrocarbons to directly produce mechanical energy.
Many houses also receive natural gas or propane.
Some institutions will use a central steam generator, and transmit heat to various offices using steam.
Of course there is also fusion, fission, and perhaps antimatter energy.

Are we missing something?
Perhaps.  Time will tell. 
If magnetism is related to electricity (movement of electrons and ions).
Then, is gravity related to, and controlled by some unknown particle?

 

Offline arumalpra

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Re: Why no other similar energy to electricity?
« Reply #2 on: 05/02/2013 08:23:00 »
just like magnetism is related to electricity, there could be many more. may be, when heat pass through xth material of periodical table, it might produce different form of energy.. yes.. time will tell..
 

Offline David Cooper

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Re: Why no other similar energy to electricity?
« Reply #3 on: 05/02/2013 20:03:21 »
Electricity should not be thought of as energy, but rather as a means of energy transmission. It works by piling electrons together so that their pressure can then force them into areas where the pressure is lower, in the process perhaps driving them through a bulb and making it light up through friction. You could use anything that flows in a similar way, although air and water could never be as effective as electrons.

I've designed a water-driven computer where water flows through tubes instead of electricity through wires, with all the logic gates taking water as inputs and using it as an output where appropriate - it would be slow though as it would likely take a few seconds for each gate to settle down whenever the inputs change (though it would be faster if the tubes and gates are smaller, at least until the stickiness of the water causes too much drag to make any further gains).

What I said at the top is easy to picture with DC power - the clearest example is a flashgun where electrons are stuffed into a capacitor and then get blasted out through the bulb as the electrons all try to get away from each other. In the case of AC it is harder to picture: there are waves of high and low pressure sent along wires which drive electrons backwards and forwards through the devices they're used to power. I can't think of anything that could do this kind of thing better than electrons, but maybe someone who knows a lot about particle physics can think of something which might fit the bill.
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: Why no other similar energy to electricity?
« Reply #4 on: 06/02/2013 10:47:48 »
There are 4 fundamental forces that could be used for power generation or transmission:
  • Electricity/Magnetism: As you mentioned. Less obviously, it is the electric fields of orbiting electrons that release the energy when we burn gasoline/petrol; the same electric fields hold together the atoms of a steam engine. Electromagnetic waves give us solar power and mobile phones. It is the electric fields of a nucleus that release some of the energy in alpha-particle decay.
  • Gravity: Used by water wheels, tidal power, rain, sewerage systems and high-divers. Also useful for keeping the space station in orbit and giving us air to breathe
  • Strong Nuclear Force: Used in nuclear fusion; the Sun makes crops grow. Probably the most powerful force we can control to some extent - but so far only in thermonuclear weapons. If you get too close to this form of energy, you die.
  • Weak Nuclear Force: Used to trigger nuclear fission. Most interactions are too weak to affect us directly.
  • You rarely get only one - sometimes you have to use one of these to overcome the another one, and produce useful energy. Sometimes the energy comes in one form, and we convert it to another form for use.

But the one we have traditionally used the most, for thousands of years is none of the above: It is Entropy, which we irreversably increase by producing heat. Entropy is the disorder that increases when you burn wood to cook your food, or burn petrol to make your car run, or burn coal to provide electricity. About 2 centuries ago we learnt to control the flow of heat to produce useful power, in the steam engine.

What makes electricity so widely used is that in the last century we learned how to make it and control it, and direct it where we want it, all fairly efficiently. You can get cheap electrical conductors that are billions of times better than the cheap electrical insulators we use (air being one of the cheapest). The one thing we can't do easily is store electricity.
  • We can generate and control magnetic forces (mainly through fine control of electricity), but our best magnetic conductors are only thousands of times better than the best room-temperature magnetic "insulators" (air being the cheapest).
  • We have no way of shielding or conducting gravitational force (although we have learnt to channel water).
  • We can shield nuclear radiation to a small extent, but the shielding is large and heavy, and we really have no way of channeling neutrons where we want them.
  • As for weakly-interacting particles like neutrinos, they pass right through the earth. We can generate them but not focus them
  • Perhaps out of research at the Large Hadron Collider we will find some way to effectively manage some other form of particle which stores and delivers energy more flexibly than current Electrical sources or lighter and more compactly than current nuclear devices - but we are still waiting for those discoveries.
  • A warning: if humanity turned the Strong Nuclear Force into nuclear weapons, think what we will do with a cheaper, smaller and more powerful source of energy!
« Last Edit: 07/02/2013 08:29:13 by evan_au »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Why no other similar energy to electricity?
« Reply #5 on: 07/02/2013 15:41:21 »
I wonder if the OP meant something like this
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_power_network
 

Offline evan_au

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Re: Why no other similar energy to electricity?
« Reply #6 on: 08/02/2013 10:59:20 »
The most compact form of energy at present is antimatter. However:
  • Production of it is extremely inefficient with current techniques.
  • Storage is quite difficult, since any contact with normal matter (including stray molecules of air) will result in instant annihilation, and possible rupture of the containment, with dire consequences.
  • So current techniques normally will store groups of positrons or antiprotons in a high vacuum, restrained by magnetic fields. It is hard to hold them in a high density, since their electric fields repel each other.
  • Anti-atoms could be stored more densely as they are electrically neutral, but they can't be manipulated with magnetic fields. Perhaps laser levitation could be used to keep them away from container walls?
  • Turning antimatter into a controlled energy source is also problematic - when antimatter annihilates, it typically produces very powerful gamma rays, which does not deposit the energy just where you want it, but irradiates everything in the vicinity; this would be a severe health hazard, and require heavy shielding
  • ...and turning it into a weapon would be a natural risk, as fancifully portrayed in Angels & Demons (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0808151/ ).

For more factual information on antimatter , see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimatter
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Why no other similar energy to electricity?
« Reply #7 on: 08/02/2013 12:07:22 »
Dihydrogen is considered weakly diamagnetic in solid, liquid, and gas forms.
The hydrogen monomer, however, is paramagnetic. 

So, assuming one could produce anti-hydrogen dimers, one may in fact be able to hold it in a strong magnetic field.  Even at very low temperatures, solid hydrogen would likely sublime in a nearly perfect vacuum. 

However, there is a reason liquid nitroglycerin is not used much in industry.  Antimatter in any appreciable quantity would be far more dangerous to handle.
 

Offline Lmnre

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Re: Why no other similar energy to electricity?
« Reply #8 on: 09/02/2013 18:09:36 »
I wonder if the OP meant something like this
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_power_network


I have pondered a device, such as a turbine-driven generator, that would convert tap water (~100 psi) to electricity during electrical power outages, because homes almost never lose water pressure when the electricity goes out, even in a major blackout (I'm pretty sure we had water pressure in America's Northeast Blackout of 1965). It would be for essential applications only, such as the house's furnace or the kitchen frig or grandma's medical gadget or essential lighting (stairs, kitchen, etc).
 

Offline CliffordK

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Re: Why no other similar energy to electricity?
« Reply #9 on: 09/02/2013 18:46:21 »
because homes almost never lose water pressure when the electricity goes out,

You apparently don't live in a rural community where one's entire supply of water during a blackout may be 20 gallons or so, and if one's not lucky, pressure will slowly bleed off.  It is common to find all of one's biggest pots and fill them as soon as the power blinks off.

I believe that much of the urban water pressure is generated by water towers and reservoirs located on hillsides.  Does it require electricity to refill the urban reservoirs?

A few people running a small water generator would be fine.  However, if the community water usage suddenly increased by 10 fold during a major blackout, with no replenishing of the water, then much bigger problems could ensue, not to mention, overwhelming water treatment systems.

In communities with natural gas, it may be possible to purchase natural gas fired generators wired directly into the main power.  They should be effective, and require less maintenance than gasoline generators.
 

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Re: Why no other similar energy to electricity?
« Reply #9 on: 09/02/2013 18:46:21 »

 

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