Assorted links

by on May 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Carroll and Frakt on policy implications of the Oregon Medicaid study, and more from Megan McArdle.  Jonathan Chait favors puppies.

2. Brooklyn pub dare not prefer the British.

3. Generator powered by gravity?  Photo here, caveats out the wazoo…

4. Agile robot the size of a fly (needs a power source).

5. New $30 million art museum for UC Davis.

6. How Russia does Google Glasses.

7. The regrets of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Ashok Rao May 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm

3. Link might need fixing.

prior_approval May 4, 2013 at 2:44 pm

The picture works fine – and no reason for any caveats looking at the picture. But then, this is an economics site primarily.

Here is a somewhat older link –

Ashok Rao May 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm

2. By the way, can I take our immigration law to the Supreme Court because I hear requirement for work visas give preference to those of American nationality.

Brandon Berg May 4, 2013 at 3:32 pm
de Broglie May 4, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Does the machine use the changing gravitation pull from the moon?

Rahul May 5, 2013 at 12:25 am

That looks like a house sized mega contraption with tons of steel. Generates only 3 kW apparently.

Bah. You can get that from a briefcase sized conventional generator.

Mark Thorson May 5, 2013 at 6:42 pm

30 kW. And your briefcase generator would require fuel.

JWatts May 6, 2013 at 10:42 am

“In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics! – Homer Simpson”

Granted, it’s impossible to tell if this machine is actually a perpetual motion machine, but the description certainly sounds like it. And in any case a modern wind turbine produces 2MW of power at a 30% capacity factor, so on average 600kW. It doesn’t look like the machine that is pictured could possible cost 5% of a wind turbine, roughly $150,000-200,000. Granted, if it’s production were consistent vs intermittent that makes the power inherently more valuable, probably twice as much.

Mark Thorson May 6, 2013 at 11:36 am

Perhaps you would be more favorable toward this technology.

The inventor has an impressive resume.

prior_approval May 4, 2013 at 2:48 pm

And here is a link from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reveiwing contemporary American TV –

‘Resistance is futile, America. Almost everyone with a television has sampled from the deliciously naughty snack bar that is reality television. Those who refuse to watch, based on some misguided cultural snobbery, aren’t just missing great entertainment, they are overlooking the best social insight into the American psyche since Huck Finn and Jim explored the soul of America on a raft of lost innocence.

Good news, Huck and Jim. We found that lost innocence and we’re hanging it out to dry on cable TV.

I’m not being sarcastic. I’m a fan. I think that Andy Cohen, the brains behind Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise, is the Andy Warhol of the 21st Century. His version of Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans and multi-colored Marilyns are the table-flipping divas and surgically-buoyed breasts he puts “on display.” (Followers of the shows will appreciate that musical inside reference.)’

Ashok Rao May 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm

1. Here’s why this experiment always struck me as oddly unethical (that it existed at all – not towards the actual PIs), and Chait touches on it but doesn’t say it. What if we conducted the experiment in, say, Massachusetts and used a random lottery to *exclude* people from care?

By the way, if we frame it in the negative space, I do feel general interpretation of the study would have been a lot more in favor of the study. But this would be wholly unethical.

Catch is it’s statistically, but not scientifically, the same. Those randomly removed would have had access for an indefinite time before the [negative] treatment. This changes things.

ed May 4, 2013 at 6:02 pm

We exclude people from drug trials all the time, even when researchers believe strongly that the drug will be effective. We do it because it’s the only way to really learn if the drug does what we hope.

Adam May 4, 2013 at 8:13 pm

So are you saying that as long as some portion of society thinks a policy or program is good, it’s unethical to test it out? The only way to truly identify a causal relationship is through random assignment.

Furthermore, I don’t see why it compares to your Massachusetts example. Oregon didn’t have enough money to expand the program to everyone. What else should they have done? Denied it to everyone? At least the randomization allows us to test the effectiveness of the program.

As I like to say, we experiment on people all of the time with every public policy decision. It’s just that we usually don’t have control groups.

BC May 5, 2013 at 3:36 am

Ed’s analogy to drug trials is spot on. In fact, one wonders why we don’t run random trials on all government social programs to test efficacy before full implementation. How is denying a sick patient a potentially life-saving drug before it has been proven effective more ethical than denying a wealth transfer to an individual that may not even be essential for life even if it were proven to be effective.

In thinking about the Oregon Medicaid study more, it’s striking how skewed the study was in favor of Medicaid. After all, they compared Medicaid recipients to people that received *nothing* when the proper comparison would be to compare Medicaid recipients to people that received a cash grant equal in value to Medicaid. That would test the positive health effects of Medicaid per se rather than the positive health effects of a general increase in wealth. It would be interesting to see whether the positive effect on depression remains when compared to a control group receiving a cash grant. (Of course, even if Medicaid did produce positive health benefits relative to cash, that wouldn’t necessarily mean that Medicaid-recipients were better off than cash-recipients since cash-recipients could be better off in other dimensions.)

A general random control trial regime comparing a social program to a direct cash transfer should also alleviate ethical concerns. After all, if the control group receives cash rather than Medicaid, it’s not clear that they are being treated any worse than the Medicaid recipients. One could imagine comparing nutrition effects of food stamps vs. cash transfers, effect on retirement quality of Social Security vs. deposit of Social Security taxes into an IRA, effect on future income of college financial aid vs. cash transfer, etc. In some sense, “reform” proposals like school choice and Medicare vouchers are basically trying to do the control trials now that arguably should have been done before the programs were instituted to begin with.

Dan Weber May 6, 2013 at 11:12 am

Because we assume that Medicaid is good for the recipients (even if it isn’t, we still assume it), while for new drugs we really don’t know ahead of time, and the people haven’t been started on the drugs yet so we aren’t taking anything away from them.

And we know lots of drugs don’t work out once tested on wider populations. If the study shows noticeably good or noticeably bad results before completion, they can (and are) stopped to move all participants to the good pool.

widmerpool May 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Chait: “We know that Medicaid makes people happier and less poor. We have trouble proving its impact on their physical well-being because proof of the benefits of medicine remain elusive. Unless we want to stop thinking of basic medical care as a life necessity, and we don’t, the case for Medicaid remains unimpeachable.”

Widmerpool: “We know that iPhones make people happier and less poor. We have trouble proving their impact on their physical well-being because proof of the benefits of iPhones remain elusive. Unless we want to stop thinking of basic cell phone service as a life necessity, and we don’t, the case for iPhones remains unimpeachable.”

Ashok Rao May 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Except iPhone == iPhone and Medicaid != medicine. S

uffy May 4, 2013 at 3:21 pm

“The 95% confidence intervals for many of the estimates of effects on individual physical health measures were wide enough to include changes that would be considered clinically significant — such as a 7.16-percentage-point reduction in the prevalence of hypertension. Moreover, although we did not find a significant change in glycated hemoglobin levels, the point estimate of the decrease we observed is consistent with that which would be expected on the basis of our estimated increase in the use of medication for diabetes.”

From the study.

ed May 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Also from the study:

“To try to improve statistical power, we used the Framingham risk score as a summary measure. This allowed us to reject a decrease of more than 20% in the predicted 10-year cardiovascular risk or a decrease of more than 10% in predicted risk among the participants with high-risk diagnoses before the lottery. Our results were thus consistent with at best limited improvements in these particular dimensions of physical health over this time period, in contrast with the substantial improvement in mental health.”

dearieme May 4, 2013 at 3:32 pm

“basic markers for the most common chronic diseases”: there are (non-loony) doctors who take the view that hypertension is defined too low, and that cholesterol suffers from a bum rap. Though I’ve never come across anyone who thinks that blood sugar is unimportant, the thresholds used differ from country to country, suggesting that the science isn’t settled. So these are far from ideal measures of merit.

Personally I’d put more weight on such a study if it had gone on long enough that one could usefully just count the corpses. Still, it implies that there must surely be much better ways to make the poor feel happier.

dearieme May 4, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Chait: “There were improvements, just not large enough to meet high, and arguably too-high, standards of statistical significance”: pah! There are plenty of statisticians who incline to the view that classical significance testing makes it far too easy to claim that a result might be the real McCoy, not mere noise. Chait is indulging in special pleading.

David Manheim May 5, 2013 at 12:58 am

I thin you’re misunderstanding the discussion that is taking place in modern statistics. The question about the bar being set too high or too low depends on the method of testing. If you run many experiments in parallel, you will finds some that find spurious significance. This is especially true in areas like genetics, where millions of genes are being examined in parallel, and large sample sizes are prohibitively expensive, since genetic sequencing is still fairly expensive.
However, in a single large RCT, without any complex conditions (In this case, they either get medicare or they do not,) the 95% level is exactly what has always been seen as a reasonable balance between assuring that spurious results are not common, and that trials can be done in a manner that is financially feasible. If the bar were 80%, the majority of publishable results would be wrong. If the bar were 99.99%, many simple studies would need the entire population of earth to participate to find a significant effect.
This means that in such a case, statistical significance is a standard bar to have results accepted scientifically. If we need to make a policy decision, however, then unless we can wait until there is conclusive scientific evidence, we typically use the point estimate to make the decision, with the 95% confidence rage as sensitivity tests; in this case, it’s assumed to be beneficial; it might be very beneficial, or it may be relatively useless – in the mean time, we make a decision. If you have a ethical way to do this type of study that is significantly higher powered for a reasonable amount of money, I’ll be thrilled to write a grant with you – tons of people would love to fund it.

dearieme May 5, 2013 at 4:37 am

“I think you’re misunderstanding the discussion that is taking place in modern statistics”: maybe but I think not. I had in mind the objections of many Bayesians to what they tend to see as the farago of significance testing. Be that as it may, I stand by my main point: Chait is a whiney cry-baby.

prior_approval May 4, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Ah, American thoughts about health care –

‘In 2000, Margaret Talbot wrote a disconcerting story for The New York Times Magazine about the placebo effect. It remains enormous — which is to say, a huge proportion of the impact of medicine seems to be going on in our heads rather than our bodies. Medical science — as an actual science, as opposed to the “medicine” that has existed throughout most of civilization — is still a relatively young field and far more mysterious than we’d like it to be. Measuring and quantifying its impact is extremely hard.’ – Chait

Well, measuring impact is quite simple when using something concrete like life expectancy. Actually, it is so remarkably easy to compare health care systems that way that only those with the awareness that the system they live within is the worst in the industrial world need to have any concern about the placebo effect. In much the same fashion that health care system expenditures can be concretely compared, and the results openly discussed.

Which might just explain why Americans spend so much time not actually looking at the experiences of literally hundreds of millions of other humans and their health care systems, capable of delivering such things as higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality.

But let’s be honest – the placebo effect is probably the best thing the people in this statistic can relay at this point – ‘In Los Angeles County it is reported that 2.2 million people do not have health insurance, which includes an estimated 227,000 young and school-aged children.’

I cannot imagine that in Germany there are that many children without access to routine health care.

However, it is absolutely certain that in Germany, and the EU, no stadium events are being staged like this – ‘Dental work is performed as part of a free health care service at the Care Harbor clinic at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on September 27, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Care Harbor is expected to give free medical, dental and vision care to 4,800 uninsured patients at the event, which runs from September 27-30.’

And the amusing thing is, some Americans still can’t understand why their belief that the U.S. has the finest health care system in the world is not taken seriously by anyone with any experience of literally any other industrial nation’s system.

But at least the uninsured have a taxpayer funded arena they can visit – score one for the U.S. health care system, right?

Widmerpool May 4, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Perhaps we could in future save you keystrokes all agree that you may post a code word or phrase when you once again would like to make this hackneyed and discredited response.

Benny Lava May 4, 2013 at 5:18 pm

U mad bro? Lol!

Cicero May 4, 2013 at 5:58 pm

What reputable source (i.e. not obviously ideologically motivated) discredits Prior Approval’s claims? The facts are that all western European countries as well as Canada have significantly higher life expectancies and infant mortality rates that the U.S. This includes the UK (diet is at least as bad as the average American’s), France (higher rates of smoking), etc. And they accomplish this by spending a lot less. Perhaps you can claim that factors other than their health care systems produce these better outcomes but at this point it is quite a stretch.

Cliff May 4, 2013 at 7:02 pm
Bender Bending Rodriguez May 5, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Badger? (Megan McArdle fans from before her current employer will get the joke)

Millian May 4, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Good thing Europe isn’t in major demographic decline, with young people fleeing for the Americas and Asia, notable lands-of-little-welfare. If it were in major demographic decline, your argument would read like the grasshopper’s sneer at the ant.

Brandon Berg May 4, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Well, measuring impact is quite simple when using something concrete like life expectancy.

Can we all agree that people who cite unadjusted life expectancy as a serious metric of a country’s health care system are simply not qualified to have an opinion on the topic?

Cicero May 4, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Other studies paint a similar picture even when taking account of the much higher rate of homicide in the U.S. The only possible exception is that some studies claim that once Americans reach the age of 75 they then begin to enjoy a higher life expectancy than those in other countries but these findings are disputed by other research. The argument here is not that American providers and technology is inferior. Rather it is the delivery system that contributes to (though does not necessarily explain all) the difference in outcomes. But since the link I sent was from a governmental agency I will not be surprised if some libertarian true believer trots out the tired old public choice argument and states that they have an incentive to lie…

Cliff May 4, 2013 at 7:18 pm

The link you cite does not rely on unadjusted life expectancy, so it is not relevant to the comment you are responding to.

Anyway, no need to get into questions of public choice since the U.S. simply has a higher life expectancy than any other nation when adjusting for accidental death alone, in spite of unfavorable demographics and lifestyle, and yes, terrible healthcare regulation. The study I linked to above is not perfect, but it is a lot better than unadjusted life expectancy (which is terrible). No one is saying the U.S. healthcare system is perfect, far from it. We are saying that anyone using unadjusted life expectancy is unserious and a hack.

Brandon Berg May 4, 2013 at 8:11 pm

The linked study proves too much. Americans are less healthy than Europeans at all wealth levels. But it’s widely agreed, I think, that wealthy Americans get very good health care. The gap, therefore, must be due to something other than health care.

Cicero May 5, 2013 at 12:05 am

I completely agree. The argument is that the fact that a large number of Americans do not have health insurance is helping to create the difference in outcomes in the aggregate. I don’t believe anyone claimed that wealthy Americans are getting inferior care.

Brian Donohue May 6, 2013 at 9:24 am

very astute comment.

prior_approval May 5, 2013 at 1:30 am

Yeah, who would want to use WHO statistics to compare different health care systems?

And to think that in some places (Germany comes to mind), gun laws are seem as part of the broad issue of public health, and how such beliefs in public health contribute to a better health care system (it isn’t just about paying the doctor). Much the same applies to the idea of not licensing 16 year olds to drive at all, coupled with the idea of a Probezeit – that is, after one earns a driver’s license, it can be revoked for any traffic infraction. Just because Americans are unable to actually understand the connections in two areas where Americans plead that this justifies poor health care outcomes in terms of life expectancy doesn’t mean that other systems don’t understand the connections – and work to reduce them.

In other words, when comparing systems, let’s only use American standards and perspectives – it helps the world look worse when measuring things the American way. Remember, it is the rest of the world that doesn’t understand an ouce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Mainly because for some bizarre reason, essentially the rest of the world doesn’t even know what an ounce or pound is.

Or even if they do, laws about gun ownership or preventing incompetent drivers from having accidents through inexperience or lax driver licensing standards has nothing to do with debates concerning public health and the success or failure of various health care systems compared to one another. Except when they do, of course. Maybe America could more effectively address such public health concerns as its extraordinary rate of firearm caused fatalities and its seemingly too large number of traffic fatalities – it isn’t as if such connections aren’t clearly understood in other countries as part of what a health care system has to effectively handle to provide better care, as measured through basic data like life expectancy.

The sadly amusing thing is that the only people working so hard to adjust various health care system data live in the U.S. – German researchers have no serious problems using Finnish or British or French or Swiss data when comparing outcomes among their peers. Only the U.S. needs that special nudge to convince itself it has peers in the industrial world.

mofo. May 6, 2013 at 9:55 am

I think you are moving the goal posts. Health care as most people understand it is has to do with the level and quality of care available to you, not the rate at which you need to use it. By your logic, the quality of health care goes down when you have a natural disaster like a tidal wave, because a tidal wave effects health outcomes.

Not every death is related to a countries health care system.

prior_approval May 5, 2013 at 3:52 am

For numbers concerning those uninsured in the German health care, the following article (in German, and likely to remain that way, as this concerns domestic German policy) might be used –

Basically, there is roughly the same number of uninsured children in Los Angeles County as there are all uninsured people currently living in Germany – including all temporary workers, legal asylum seekers, and those without legal residency documents. Obviously, the German numbers have roughly the same precision as the Los Angeles ones, though it is reasonable to assume that the Los Angeles numbers do not include those without legal residency documents.

The main thrust of the article? That extending health care to this roughly under .5% uncovered population would obviously provide better health outcomes for that group, and likely not cost any more than current practice, which involves treating major problems which could have been prevented using customary medical interaction, such as visiting a doctor regularly. Further, it would allow doctors to better follow their conscience in providing health care, regardless of issues concerning the current status of paperwork.

And I can see that even if the article was not written in another language, many of the commenters here would be unable to understand it. For example, the ‘German Medical Association’ has a human rights representative (Menschenrechtsbeauftragte der Bundesärztekammer (BÄK)).

Or this quote from Urban Wiesing, head of the ‘German Medical Association’ central ethics commission (Vorsitzender der Zentralen Ethikkommission (ZEKO) bei der Bundesärztekammer). “Doctors often end up in grave ethical, and in part legal, conflicts, when medically available therapies and preventive diagnostic tools are not used due to insurance concerns, or that doctor/patient confidentiality cannot be maintained.”….Of particular concern, according to Wiesing, is that children and youths are not provided medical care.’ (“Ärzte geraten oft in gravierende ethische und zum Teil rechtliche Konfliktsituationen, wenn medizinisch gebotene Therapien und Vorsorgeuntersuchungen aus Versicherungsgründen unterbleiben müssen oder die ärztliche Schweigepflicht nicht eingehalten werden kann”, sagte Urban Wiesing, Vorsitzender der Zentralen Ethikkommission (ZEKO) bei der Bundesärztekammer, in einer Stellungnahme. Besonders bedenklich sei, so Wiesing, dass Kindern und Jugendlichen medizinische Versorgung vorenthalten werde.)

Obviously, Wiesing is not someone one would want to ask about the American health care system, and its ethical basis. At least if one wanted an answer which contained any positive elements to it. As a matter of fact, the very idea of a health care lottery would probably provoke a reaction from him which would make no sense to many of the American commenters here.

Hoover May 4, 2013 at 4:03 pm

#2 In the UK, ethnic restaurants are allowed to racially discriminate when hiring, because owners might want to get an appropriately exotic atmosphere.

It’s called genuine occupational requirements, or something.

Adrian Ratnapala May 5, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Ahh, but are they allowed to discriminate in favour of the British?

wiki May 4, 2013 at 4:27 pm

At the minimum, health care should be reordered (even private health care) to allow a choice of cheaper coverage with higher copays and more personal payments for non-routine interventions. I already opt for 500 dollar and 1000 dollar copay on my car and home insurance. If my private plan offered an option with a lower monthly tag and higher copay, I would take it. I don’t see why any health care plan that’s universal should require less than a 20 or 30 dollar copay for routine visits and $75 or $100 for emergency room coverage.

Alexei Sadeski May 4, 2013 at 6:06 pm


How about zero copay for routine visits (as in, user pays 100%) and zero copay for emergency room visits up to, say, $3,000?

That’s what we normally consider insurance to be. For me, that costs a whopping $90/mo.

Brandon Berg May 4, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Copay is what the consumer pays. So what you’re describing would be 100% copay.

Alexei Sadeski May 4, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Thank you for the correction.

Bryan Willman May 4, 2013 at 5:19 pm

First, it’s worth noting that some commentors on the study are openly admitting that they want to “tax the rich and use the money to give …. to the poor” – in other words, it’s not really about health care, it’s about redistribution, period. One gets the feeling that simply heavily taxing the rich and then burning the money would make them happy.

Second, as I asked on Frakt and Carroll’s blog, is there ANY study that would make you think: “medicaid isn’t a great plan, and once we start these things they are very hard to unwind, so we really do have to go away and do something else”

Third, the counter to those opposed is of course “Is there any study, any proof of cost benefits, that would make you drop opposition to expanding medicaid?”

I suspect that for most commentors, their views are not refutable – because they are really interested in redistribution rather than health care, because they want SOMETHING NOW! rather than something that will really work over the long term, because they are really concerned with politics rather than healthcare, because they are really concerned with the size of government rather than healthcare, because they are pursuing what amounts to a religious belief in the first place, etc. etc.

Alexei Sadeski May 4, 2013 at 6:06 pm

“One gets the feeling that simply heavily taxing the rich and then burning the money would make them happy.”

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Mark Thorson May 4, 2013 at 6:41 pm

There’s also the hanging from lamp posts part, but they don’t want to be up-front about that prematurely.

Alexei Sadeski May 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Because the poor and powerless always fare well in a war.

Roy May 5, 2013 at 1:49 am

Somehow would be revolutionaries never figure this out.

But don’t worry none of these people is a revolutionary.

Widmerpool May 4, 2013 at 6:46 pm

Policymaking by sentimentalism.

Andreas Moser May 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm

# 6 – And this is how everybody else does Google Glass, who can’t afford the original:

Dismalist May 4, 2013 at 6:20 pm

#1: Who is an economist in The Incidental Economist?

JW May 4, 2013 at 7:32 pm

On #1, why should we care what Chait says? His analysis is by far the worst I have seen on the issue.

mofo. May 6, 2013 at 10:06 am

I like how you included “on the issue’ at the end there. How very charitable of you.

Alex May 4, 2013 at 7:47 pm

#1. Can we be sure the Oregon Medicaid experiment isn’t just an elaborate prank by Robin Hanson? That he didn’t move to Oregon, purchase hundreds of disguises, and impersonate dozens of Medicaid enrollees? Either that or he’s just absurdly correct. I mean, it’s like observable reality is plagiarizing his blog.

Rationalist May 5, 2013 at 6:53 pm

“it’s like observable reality is plagiarizing his blog.”

LOL +1

stubydoo May 4, 2013 at 8:09 pm

The next step is for some state to do a Medicare lottery experiment – randomly kick out x% of people from Medicare to see what happens.

byomtov May 4, 2013 at 10:46 pm

#7. Confirms my impression that Jabbar is a real mensch.

Axa May 5, 2013 at 3:46 am

#7: he is a true nerd: “Watch more TV. ………..pop culture is history in the making and watching some of the popular shows of each era reveals a lot about the average person, while history books often dwell on the powerful people.”

Eric H May 5, 2013 at 10:39 am

#7: His views on media and fan attention and what he did while touring sound exactly like Neil Peart, so probably away from the NT end of the spectrum.

Barry May 6, 2013 at 8:41 am

Kevin Drum has some more comments at

The summary would be that this study was limited in power due to small sample size. For many measures, radical increases would still not have been statistically significant.

Barry May 6, 2013 at 8:43 am

Oh, and his postscript:

“And finally: on the metrics that had bigger sample sizes and could provide more reliable results (depression, financial security, self-reported health, etc.), the results of the study were uniformly positive and statistically significant.”

Widmerpool May 6, 2013 at 9:39 am

So for actual outcomes on physical well-being, a win-win (or I suppose a win-no-lose) for Obamacare supporters. Fantastic!

Floccina May 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm

3. Generator powered by gravity? Photo here, caveats out the wazoo…

At risk of showing my ignorance, every time a hear of the problems of intermittent power sources like wind and solar, I think hmm I wonder why they cannot use the power when they have more than needed to lift a heavy weight and then let gravity provide power when they are short.

Hasdrubal May 6, 2013 at 4:18 pm

One of the strategies I’ve heard for storing wind and solar power is to use the electricity generated to pump water up hill into a reservoir, then use the steady downhill flow to provide commercial power. Another idea is to spin up giant flywheels in a vacuum on magnetic bearings and use them as generators.

So, yeah, that kind of idea is out there.

Marc KS May 6, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Storage my dear friend… Storage is by and far the biggest issue with all forms of intermittent power generation.

Big weights are problematic because lifting a big weight would either take a lot of torque (POWER) or an enormous amount of gearing (INEFFICIENCY).

You would make yourself very rich designing a cheap battery that had huge storage, long life and high efficiency

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