158 Newgrange (just for fun)

158 Newgrange (just for fun)

On a recent trip to Ireland we had the opportunity to visit and explore Newgrange. I had seen the sight on several TV documentaries and was anxious to experience it for myself. The following is taken from Wikipedia:

Newgrange (IrishSí an Bhrú or Brú na Bóinne) is a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, located 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) west of Drogheda on the north side of the River Boyne. It is an exceptionally grand passage tomb built during the Neolithic period, around 3200 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.

The site consists of a large circular mound with an inner stone passageway and chambers. Human bones and possible grave goods or votive offerings were found in these chambers. The mound has a retaining wall at the front, made mostly of white quartz cobblestones, and it is ringed by engraved kerbstones. Many of the larger stones of Newgrange are covered in megalithic art. The mound is also ringed by a stone circle. Some of the material that makes up the monument came from as far away as the Mournes and Wicklow Mountains. There is no agreement about what the site was used for, but it is believed that it had religious significance. Its entrance is aligned with the rising sun on the winter solstice, when sunlight shines through a ‘roofbox‘ and floods the inner chamber. Several other passage tombs in Ireland are aligned with solstices and equinoxes, and Cairn G at Carrowkeel has a similar ‘roofbox’. Newgrange also shares many similarities with other Neolithic constructions in Western Europe, especially Gavrinis in Brittany, which has both a similar preserved facing and large carved stones, in that case lining the passage within. Maeshowe in Orkney, Scotland, with a large high corbelled chamber, and Bryn Celli Ddu in Wales have also been compared to Newgrange.

It is the most famous monument within the Neolithic Brú na Bóinne complex, alongside the similar passage tomb mounds of Knowth and Dowth, and as such is a part of the Brú na Bóinne UNESCO World Heritage Site. Newgrange consists of approximately 200,000 tonnes of rock and other materials. It is 85 metres (279 ft) wide at its widest point.

Images of the interior follow:

How is our country doing, carbon footprint wise, on energy production?

How is our country doing, carbon footprint wise, on energy production?

Over the past 65 years we have made some progress, but not as much as many other countries. Even today almost 64% of our energy is based on petroleum-based products. There are now less than 25 countries that produce over 80% of their energy from renewable source while we only produce 17% via these same sources.

U.S. electricity generation by source, amount, and share of total in 2018 Energy

US Energy Information Administration (Source)

Total – all sources  100%

Fossil fuels (total)63.6%

Natural  35.2%       Coal  27.5%        Petroleum (total)  .6%   (Petroleum liquids.4%   Petroleum coke  .2%)                         Other gases   .3%

Nuclear  19.4%

Renewables (total)  16.9%

Hydropower  7%           Wind  6.5%           Biomass (total)  1.4%  (Wood  1.0%   Landfill gas  .3%                                                Municipal solid waste (biogenic)  .2%   Other biomass waste <0.1%)           Solar  1.5%   (Photovoltaic  1.4%                            Solar thermal  .1%)      Geothermal  .4%      Pumped storage hydropower3  .1%   Other sources   .3%

COVID-19 compared to the H1N1 Virus

COVID-19 compared to the H1N1 Virus

There has been considerable discussion about comparing the current virus to the 1918 Influenza pandemic. There also has been a lot of misinformation. In 1918 the Spanish flu terminated the lives of an estimated 35 million folks. Despite the name, the H1N1 virus started in Kansas. At the time, no one knew how it was transmitted, and there were no NPIs (Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions) in place. Items like social distancing, closing establishments based on group settings, contact tracing, and other measures were not even considered. Our ability to provide testing and track the sources of the virus was extremely limited. About 35% of all people living at the time contracted the virus, and the mortality rate was estimated at 2%. If our current NPI, testing, and tracking procedures been in place at the time, there is no doubt that the number of cases would have been just a small fraction of what occurred.

We really do not know the actual mortality rate of COVID19. The reported rate in the U.S. is 6%, but that is not accurate. The best estimate based on countries that have done a better job on testing is that it is about 2% or about the same as the Spanish Flu. This is about twenty times the mortality rate of the common flu at .09% (a bit under one in a thousand will die from the flu.)

What is alarming is that, as of May 2020, the USA has 4.5% of the world’s population but almost 29% of the COVID19 related deaths. We can learn a lot from studying both the countries that are doing a better job as well as those few that are doing worse.