Tower of power

Back in March, I wrote about the gigantic solar power project being built just outside of Tonopah, the Crescent Dunes Project, which will use 17,000 sun-sucking mirrors to heat salt, circulate it through a 540-foot “power tower,” generate steam, and then make electricity. This unit, when finished, will make about 12 percent as much annual electricity as Hoover Dam, enough to power 75,000 homes. It's a spectacular project, notable because the molten salt aspect will allow it to supply electric power even at night, a first for solar installations.

The project was supposed to come on line this summer, but now it's autumn, and I didn't hear a peep about some fat cat or dignitary throwing the ceremonial switch out there. As it turns out, things are a bit slow, but not too bad. Now, latest estimates have Crescent Dunes becoming operational sometime before the end of the year. Nevada should milk this development for all the glowing green pub it can. Between this thing and the Tesla story, we are rackin' up some much needed 21st century progressive-type mojo. And not a moment too soon.


Up until now, I was willing to accept the government line about Ebola being difficult to transmit. But lately, questions of contagiousness are popping up and not going away. For one thing, if the virus is so hard to catch, why can't they corral it once and for all in Africa? If our doctors over there were so conscious of being in a “hot” zone, how the hell did they get it? How do you spend all day in a hazmat suit and still get Ebola? Why don't reporters ask hard questions of people as to how exactly they got this bug? Honestly, this line of “difficult transmission” is starting to remind me of those old sci-fi flicks where the government will say just about anything to prevent everybody from flipping out.

Let's re-examine the official stance, that Ebola can only be caught from the bodily fluids of people showing symptoms. OK, so shouldn't it be quite easy to not come into contact with an infected persons' blood, urine, feces, saliva, mucus or semen? Especially if you're wearing that anti-viral suit. But, as it turns out, there are other bodily fluids to consider. Namely, breast milk, tears and sweat, the latter being not exactly a rare commodity in Africa. The CDC itself said, “but if infected sweat, mucus or saliva gets on doorknobs or countertops, the Ebola virus can be spread for several hours by someone touching those surfaces and then touching their eyes, nose, mouth, or open cut” (italics mine). Which would explain a lot about why this virus is being somewhat stubborn. And how trained professionals are getting sick. And how it may not be all that tough, in the end, for people to spread it.