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Global Cooling, Monster Storms and the Coming Maunder Minimum *

We are currently midway through the Little Ice Age, and unusually strong storms are the rule now. The Pilgrims have logged a 20 foot tide at New Plymouth due to a major storm. Back in England, the Thames has risen to such a height that the sea wall at Kent has collapsed. Essex and Lincolnshire are inundated. Take note. This is not the normal flooding that might torment the average yeoman or minor nobleman. This is record-breaking flooding. This bad weather is a terrible omen for the future. Speaking of bad omens, King James the 1st has died and his son, Charles the 1st has taken the throne of Great Britain, but it's not as if England has been hit by Plague too. Oh... wait. Over 68,000 die of Plague this year... most in London itself. The bad times are not over yet. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The tracking sunspots in the 1600s was led by the husband and wife team of Annie and Walter Maunder. Their observations noted a reduction in the number of sunspots in 1645. Today it is known as the Maunder Minimum and it lasted for 70 years, the longest minimum in recorded history. At the same time there was a sudden drop in global temperatures... more than it had already dropped for the Little Ice Age, but does a reduction in sunspots predict a drop in temperature? In the modern day we are experiencing a solar minimum. I notice lower than normal temperatures, but I have not seen a convincing case for sunspots causing a change in temperatures. I have lived long enough to experience Global Cooling, Global Warming, and now Global Climate Change. Scientists have not convinced me that any of these things are caused by man, and they have not convinced me that their so-called solutions would actually fix the problem even if it were caused by man. Their hands are out, demanding more funding, and I feel like someone being forced to pay for the rope to be used in my own hanging. [8] [9] [10]

What a Relief! Glauber's Salt is Discovered

The official chemist of the Holy Roman Emperor, Johann Glauber, discovers hydrated sodium sulfate. It's main use at this time is as a laxative called Miracle Salt. Later it will be known as Glauber's Salt and it's uses will be wide ranging, included in the processing of paper, glass and use in some laundry detergents. It can also be used for solar energy applications since it changes from solid to liquid at 90 degrees Fahrenheit. [11] [12] [13] [14] [15]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I am not interested in laxatives but heat transference in solar energy applications is very interesting. According to what I've read, Glauber's salt holds a lot more solar energy than water or rocks. I once saw a home that used water to store solar heat, and released that heat at night to keep the home warm, but that system seemed inefficient. Using Glauber's salt instead of water might work better. I couldn't find an actual build that I could evaluate but it sounds like it has potential. [16] [17] [18] [19]

The Slide Rule and the Old School Mystique

In the last few years logarithms have been introduced, but now a practical use for logarithms allows one to multiple and divide using two scaled rulers slipping past each other. This device is called the slide rule. It is invented by William Oughtred who is the same guy who invented the x used for multiplication. Example: 5 x 5 = 25. [20]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I was delighted to see the slide rule being used in the movie, Apollo 13 (1995). We sent men to the Moon using slide rule calculations. I used a slide rule in college, but personally, I prefer electronic calculators. I actually got a job at a civil engineering company when I revealed that I knew how to use a slide rule. At the time, just about everyone was using electronic calculators, but the engineer was old school... really old school. In the interview, what he really cared about was whether I could use a slide rule, and work the clutch on a Ford F-150. Yes, on both counts. My job was to represent the civil engineer in the field and the slide rule was part of that old school mystique. [21]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1625, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Wheeler, William H.. History of the Fens of South Lincolnshire, A. J.M. Newcomb. OCLC 62604909. “In 1625, a very high tide occured, described as being the highest ever known in the Thames, and the sea walls in Kent, Essex and Lincolnshire were overthrown, and great desolation caused to the lands near the sea.” 
  2. Maunder Minimum - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 13 August 2015. “The Maunder Minimum roughly coincided with the middle part of the Little Ice Age, during which Europe and North America experienced colder than average temperatures. Whether there is a causal relationship, however, is still controversial, as no convincing mechanism for the solar activity to produce cold temperatures has been proposed, and the current best hypothesis for the cause of the Little Ice Age is that it was the result of volcanic action.”
  3. MARTHA'S VINEYARD'S TEN WORST STORMS 1625-1998. history.vineyard.net (1999). Retrieved on 13 August 2015. “'The worst storm on record' - Tidal height recorded near Plymouth.”
  4. Chilly Temperatures During the Maunder Minimum : Image of the Day. earthobservatory.nasa.gov (2001). Retrieved on 14 August 2015. “From 1650 to 1710, temperatures across much of the Northern Hemisphere plunged when the Sun entered a quiet phase now called the Maunder Minimum. During this period, very few sunspots appeared on the surface of the Sun, and the overall brightness of the Sun decreased slightly. Already in the midst of a colder-than-average period called the Little Ice Age, Europe and North America went into a deep freeze: alpine glaciers extended over valley farmland; sea ice crept south from the Arctic; and the famous canals in the Netherlands froze regularly—an event that is rare today.”
  5. Appleby, Andrew B. (April 1980). Epidemics and Famine in the Little Ice Age, History and Climate: Interdisciplinary Explorations, MIT Press, 643-663. Retrieved on 14 August 2015. “Plague is not a good disease to relate to short-term climatic change. We know too little about either temperature or humidity during the time that plague was present in Western Europe to permit us to draw any firm conclusions about the recurring nature of the disease and the climate.” 
  6. Hackenbracht, Ryan J. (June 2011). Plague of 1625-26, Apocalyptic Anticipation, and Milton's Elegy III, The. University of North Carolina Press, 403-438. Retrieved on 14 August 2015. “The final death toll reached 35,417 in the city and 68,596 nationwide, and numerous 'trailer epidemics' in 1626 drove the numbers still higher.” 
  7. Charles I of England - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 14 August 2015. “Charles I (19 November 1600 - 30 January 1649) was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 27 March 1625 until his execution in 1649. Charles was the second son of King James VI of Scotland, but after his father inherited the English throne in 1603, he moved to England, where he spent much of the rest of his life. He became heir apparent to the English, Irish and Scottish thrones on the death of his elder brother, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1612.”
  8. Maunder minimum, solar activity and the Little Ice Age: new research. carbonbrief.org (24 Aug 2011). Retrieved on 14 August 2015. “The finding supports current understanding of climate science, that although energy from the sun provides almost all of the energy to power the Earth's climate system, it is not the dominant climate forcing causing recent warming. A number of independent studies have shown that over the last 35 years solar activity has waned, yet global average temperature has continued to rise. Something other than solar activity is causing the warming.”
  9. Is a Mini Ice Age Coming? 'Maunder Minimum' Spurs Controversy. livescience.com (July 18, 2015). Retrieved on 14 August 2015. “Valentina Zharkova, a professor of mathematics at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom, used a new model of the sun's solar cycle, which is the periodic change in solar radiation, sunspots and other solar activity over a span of 11 years, to predict that 'solar activity will fall by 60 percent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the 'mini ice age' that began in 1645,' according to a statement.”
  10. Maunder Minimum — OSS Foundation. ossfoundation.us (2015). Retrieved on 14 August 2015. “The longest minimum on record, the Maunder Minimum of 1645-1715, lasted an incredible 70 years. Sunspots were rarely observed and the solar cycle seemed to have broken down completely. The period of quiet coincided with the Little Ice Age, a series of extraordinarily bitter winters in Earth's northern hemisphere. Many researchers are convinced that low solar activity, acting in concert with increased volcanism and possible changes in ocean current patterns, played a role in that 17th century cooling.”
  11. Sodium sulfate - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 13 August 2015. “The hydrate of sodium sulfate is known as Glauber's Salt after the Dutch/German chemist and apothecary Johann Rudolf Glauber (1604–1670), who discovered it in 1625 in Austrian spring water. He named it sal mirabilis (miraculous salt), because of its medicinal properties: the crystals were used as a general purpose laxative, until more sophisticated alternatives came about in the 1900s.”
  12. Glauber, Johann Rudolf. The Galileo Project (2015). Retrieved on 13 August 2015. “Glauber was in the imperial court in Vienna- Neustadt. Ferdinand II supported alchemists, and Glauber entered this circle through his acquaintance with Sendivogius. One can see a direct indication of favor towards Glauber in that he was allowed to remain in Vienna-Neustadt in violation of the anti-plague laws enacted in 1625 which prohibited foreigners from staying there, even though he was very ill at the time. Glauber claimed that he was to have been enobled by Ferdinand's son in 1654.”
  13. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster. “Johann Rudolf Glauber (l604--1668) discovers Glauber's salt” 
  14. Laxative - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 14 August 2015. “Solutions of polyethylene glycol and electrolytes (sodium chloride, sodium bicarbonate, potassium chloride, and sometimes sodium sulfate) are used for whole bowel irrigation, a process designed to prepare the bowel for surgery or colonoscopy and to treat certain types of poisoning.”
  15. Hydrate - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 14 August 2015. “In chemistry, a hydrate is a substance that contains water or its constituent elements. The chemical state of the water varies widely between different classes of hydrates, some of which were so labeled before their chemical structure was understood.”
  16. Solar Home Principles and Design. allanstime.com (2014). Retrieved on 14 August 2015. “Thermal storage using water is not nearly so efficient, as water only stores one calory per gram per degree centigrade. Glauber's salt has the nice property that it melts at 90o F and has about 83 calories per gram. It does not take a lot of salt to heat several rooms. The salt in the chamber is stored in black tubes to pull in the day-time sun so that the salt melts. At night as the salt freezes at 90o F, the air is heated around the tubes like a radiator, which then rises, and like the solarium forces air through the floor joist -- dropping down in the cooler rooms needing heat with return air going through ducting under the floors.”
  17. Eutectic Salt for Solar Home Heat Storage. allanstime.com (2014). Retrieved on 14 August 2015. “Dr. Maria Telkas, U of Delaware, proved that Glauber's Salt technology was sound and economical some 30 years ago. She had a couple of patents in that regard. She built a home based on same at the U. of Delaware, and it was a nice practical validation. This technology could have a major impact on how we deal with energy, but no one has picked it up. Some have tried, but they didn't follow her patent guidelines, and they failed. They make it in Europe successfully.”
  18. Solar Energy Storage Methods. ehow.com (2015). Retrieved on 14 August 2015. “Glauber's salt systems need less space to store the same amount of heat as a rock or water-based system; the salt is more expensive than water or rocks, however, and the mixture can sometimes exhibit corrosion problems. Generally the salt mixture includes a thickening agent. The most common such agent is attapulgite clay. Purdue University recommends you avoid thickening mixtures like cellulose, starch, sawdust, silica or other agents.”
  19. Solar Energy Heat Storage for Home, Farm and Small Business: Suggestions on Selecting and Using Thermal Storage Materials and Facilities. extension.purdue.edu (2008). Retrieved on 14 August 2015. “One area of inadequate or misinformation in particular (and a costly one it mistakes are made) is the storage of collected energy. The purpose of this publication, therefore, is to answer some basic questions about the proper selection and use of thermal storage devices.”
  20. William Oughtred - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 14 August 2015. “He was alive during the Jacobean age. After John Napier invented logarithms and Edmund Gunter created the logarithmic scales (lines, or rules) upon which slide rules are based, it was Oughtred who first used two such scales sliding by one another to perform direct multiplication and division; and he is credited as the inventor of the slide rule in 1622. Oughtred also introduced the '×' symbol for multiplication as well as the abbreviations 'sin' and 'cos' for the sine and cosine functions.”
  21. Apollo 13 (1995). imdb.com (1995). Retrieved on 14 August 2015. “NASA must devise a strategy to return Apollo 13 to Earth safely after the spacecraft undergoes massive internal damage putting the lives of the three astronauts on board in jeopardy.”

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