David Fuller and Eoin Treacy's Comment of the Day
Category - General

    Email of the day on a layman's description of nuclear batteries.

    I suddenly seem to be bombarding you with communications, after years in the wilderness.    Don't worry, this will only be a brief interlude, I am sure.

       I just wanted to comment on the extract on "nano-diamond self-charging batteries" that you publish today.

    I read Loz Blain's whole article, and it seems a very important development indeed.   But in keeping with all articles on technology for the "layman", the story doesn't start at the beginning, but begins a bit down the down the road, and soon focusses on the applications alone.    This applies even more to your extract.

    I feel that this patronises the reader unnecessarily.    The average reader should be able to understand a brief well-structured explanation that starts from the beginning.   (This objection applies even more to articles on Covid-19 -- but that is another story.   In that case, I don't believe any politicians, or even some of their scientific advisers, have any real grasp of the subject.)

    Re. the batteries, we have to start from the energy source.   There are only 3 (or maybe 4) energy sources:-    Radiation (sunlight), Chemical energy (in fossil fuels, wood etc.) and Nuclear energy (stored in the nuclei of all atoms, and released from the unstable ones).    The 4th source would be Gravitational (hydro-electric power, tidal, possibly wave).

    The source in nano-diamond is nuclear, but the products (nitrogen gas) are harmless, and the beta radiation is contained (or so they claim).    The beta radiation (carrying the nuclear energy as kinetic energy) then transfers its energy to electrons, and creates the voltage.

    The prefix nano is jargon which could be avoided - it simply means "using minute quantities of material", or possibly "operating with minute quantities of material at a time (i.e. on a very small scale), within a larger structure".    (This is what is happening in living things, and thus in the cells of our bodies, 24/7.     Man has only just caught up with this technology, in a rudimentary manner.)

    "Self-charging" is superfluous and confusing.     I suppose it means that electricity is being continually formed from the nuclear energy store.    But this is equally true of a conventional battery;  the energy in that case is chemical, and there is far less than in the carbon-14 nuclei in nano-diamond batteries.

    The carbon-14 is nuclear waste - from the used graphite (graphite is a form of carbon) "moderator" blocks from the cores of nuclear power stations, of which there is a huge store apparently.

    Well it seems to me that if just 10 or so lines from what I have given above were used, that would be understandable to the average reader, and give them a good working knowledge.     (You may be interested to know, or probably already suspected, that I tutor A level physics and chemistry.   My great passion is communicating these matters clearly.   Granted, it is a great help if the reader has some facility in handling spatial ideas, but that applies to so many technical areas.)

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    Nano-diamond self-charging batteries could disrupt energy as we know it

    This article by Loz Blain for NewAtlast.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    And it can scale up to electric vehicle sizes and beyond, offering superb power density in a battery pack that is projected to last as long as 90 years in that application – something that could be pulled out of your old car and put into a new one. If part of a cell fails, the active nano diamond part can be recycled into another cell, and once they reach the end of their lifespan – which could be up to 28,000 years for a low-powered sensor that might, for example, be used on a satellite – they leave nothing but "harmless by-products."

    In the words of Dr. John Shawe-Taylor, UNESCO Chair and University College London Professor: “NDB has the potential to solve the major global issue of carbon emissions in one stroke without the expensive infrastructure
    projects, energy transportation costs, or negative environmental impacts associated with alternate solutions such as carbon capture at fossil fuel power stations, hydroelectric plants, turbines, or nuclear power stations. Their technology’s ability to deliver energy over very long periods of time without the need for recharging, refueling, or servicing puts them in an ideal position to tackle the world’s energy requirements through a distributed solution with close to zero environmental impact and energy transportation costs.”

    Indeed, the NDB battery offers an outstanding 24-hour energy proposition for off-grid living, and the NDB team is adamant that it wishes to devote a percentage of its time to providing it to needy remote communities as a charity service with the support of some of the company's business customers.

    Should the company chew right through the world's full supply of carbon-14 nuclear waste – a prospect that would take some extremely serious volume – NDB says it can create its own carbon-14 raw material simply and cost-effectively.

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    A Robot Tried to Fix Value Investing and Ended Up Buying Amazon

    This article by Justina Lee for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    The top three holdings of the machine-guided fund in July were Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc. Those are far from the kind of undervalued stocks typically favored by a value strategy. But to Qraft, it’s just value 2.0.

    “Intangible assets have become a more important factor in the actual value of the company due to the development of information technology,” founder Hyungsik Kim wrote in an email.

    “It is easy to tell which of the following is more important in measuring the value of Amazon: warehouses (tangibles) or automated logistics systems (intangibles).”

    It’s the rallying cry for many remaining proponents of value: The factor isn’t dead, it’s simply plagued by outdated accounting rules that treat intangible investments such as research as expenses rather than capital.

    As a result, knowledge-intensive firms end up with much lower book values and higher costs, which make them look more expensive than they actually are.

    The new ETF’s eye-catching backtests also speak to the variety of methods underlying even the best-known equity factors. One study estimated there are well over 3,000 different ways to define a value strategy.

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    Email of the day - on gold versus tech

    Some people think that technology shares and gold are correlated. Why would this be the case for such different asset classes?

    Do you think if the Nasdaq drops that precious metals will as well?

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    Tesla resale values

    This graphic from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers:

    It’s early, but there are signs Tesla Inc.’s Model 3 could be as exceptional in the used market as it has been in the new-car world. The sedan has sold at volumes no other electric vehicle has come close to reaching, turning Tesla into the most valuable auto company in the world. Car-shopping websites still have small sample sizes to work with, yet so far, the Model 3s are retaining much more of their value than their small luxury-vehicle peers and they’re selling quickly once owners list them for sale -- on average just 29.3 days from March through June -- according to iSeeCars.com.

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    Laura expected to reach Category 2 strength; Marco continues to weaken

    This article from the SunSentinel.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Tropical Storm Laura’s forecast has it at hurricane strength on Tuesday and Wednesday. Laura’s predicted path as of 5 a.m. Monday had it making landfall near the Louisiana-Texas border late Wednesday or early Thursday.

    But by Friday, Laura was “expected to produce rainfall of 5 to 10 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches across portions of the west-central U.S. Gulf Coast near the Texas and Louisiana border north into portions of the lower Mississippi Valley,” the National Hurricane Center said.

    Both storm tracks are unusually close to each other. If and how the two storms will interact with each other are highly uncertain, forecasters said.

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