Showing posts from 2014

Response to Woodward letter

On December 18, 2014, I received a letter from Rocky Scott, the Director of Corporate Relations with Woodward, Inc.  The letter was remarkable for its bullying and intimidating tone.  It also repeated several false statements, in an apparent attempt to extract more taxpayer money from the citizens.  In response, here are the facts:
Homestead Natural Area was not a gift from Woodward.  It was part of a $23.5 million taxpayer-financed package, which was adopted by Council on March 26, 2013.  The agreement says the property was “conveyed”, not donated, which just means Woodward transferred ownership to the City as part of the deal.
The City of Fort Collins is not required to ask the voters for millions of additional dollars to fund the Lincoln Avenue project next to Woodward.  It has always been up to Council whether or not to refer this question to the voters.  And, if Council should ask, you are free to vote “no” on the question.
It is important to know that the Lincoln project was never …

Thinking of a telescope rebuild

20 years ago, I built Big Blue:

It's been a great telescope.  But it is, well, big.  About 120 145 pounds, hard to take apart, hard to transport.  I've been reading up on alternative designs, and I came across this one by legendary Mel Bartels.  Here is my take on it.  A very light scope, easy to disassemble, and easier to transport.  First, the assembled scope:

It will easily disassemble and fold up for transport:

And the plywood bits will all fit on a single standard 4x8 sheet:

I'm not sure when I'll get around to building it, but it is fun to think about.

Edit (Nov 10 2014): I started disassembly, and found that the scope is actually 20% heavier than I realized (and includes 25 pounds of counterweights).  From initial estimates, the new design will weigh:

Upper cage: 6 pounds (was 11 pounds)
Mirror box: 46 pounds (was 53 pounds)
Rocker box: 30 pounds (was 41 pounds)
Counterweights: 8 pounds (was 25 pounds)

Overall, a 35% weight diet.  The mirror box/mirror combo is…

It's raining fusion projects

This week, three press releases came out about separate nuclear fusion initiatives.  First up was the University of Washington, who announced on October 8 that they will present their "dynomak" concept at the upcoming Fusion Energy Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida Russia.  Next up was Sandia Labs on October 14, who announced new results from their "Z-machine", including significant neutron production.  Finally, we have Lockheed-Martin, who announced on October 15  that they had made a breakthrough in some sort of cylindrical-confinement fusion configuration, and are working toward building a 100Mw reactor in the next decade that would fit in a semi trailer.

These follow on the heels of prior announcements from:

EMC2 Fusion, which claimed on June 1 that they have validated magnetic cusp confinement when beta is close to unity - this is an important step toward creating an energy-producing Polywell fusor.General Fusion, who is working toward a 2015 demonstration…

EPA: Please regulate carbon dioxide emssions

Text of my testimony before the EPA yesterday (July 30, 2014):

Good afternoon.  My name is Ross Cunniff.  I am a Fort Collins City Council member, but I am speaking only on my own behalf today.

My father was born and raised in Colorado.  Although he left Colorado to serve in the US Army, we returned frequently in the 1960s and 1970s to visit our family here.  I have vivid memories of Colorado from those days.  I remember startling blue skies, fast-running mountain streams, tree-covered hillsides, and snow-capped mountain-tops.  My wife and I moved to Colorado in 1987 to raise our family.  Although many more people lived here by then, the character of the state was much the same as I remembered, and we delighted in sharing it with our daughters as they grew up.

However, the past decade has seen significant change for the worse.  Colorado is not the same as it was when I was growing up.  The view of the Front Range is frequently obscured by haze.  The mountains are not snow-capped near…