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SILICON SILIC CHIP www.siliconchip.com.au Publisher & Editor-in-Chief Leo Simpson, B.Bus., FAICD Editor Nicholas Vinen Technical Editor John Clarke, B.E.(Elec.) Technical Staff Ross Tester Jim Rowe, B.A., B.Sc Bao Smith, B.Sc Photography Ross Tester Reader Services Ann Morris Advertising Enquiries Glyn Smith Phone (02) 9939 3295 Mobile 0431 792 293 glyn<at>siliconchip.com.au Regular Contributors Brendan Akhurst David Maddison B.App.Sc. (Hons 1), PhD, Grad.Dip.Entr.Innov. Kevin Poulter Dave Thompson SILICON CHIP is published 12 times a year by Silicon Chip Publications Pty Ltd. ACN 003 205 490. ABN 49 003 205 490. All material is copyright ©. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Printing: Offset Alpine, Lidcombe, NSW. Distribution: Network Distribution Company. Subscription rates: $105.00 per year in Australia. For overseas rates, see our website or the subscriptions page in this issue. Editorial office: Unit 1, 234 Harbord Rd, Brookvale, NSW 2100. Postal address: PO Box 139, Collaroy Beach, NSW 2097. Phone (02) 9939 3295. E-mail: silicon<at>siliconchip.com.au ISSN 1030-2662 Recommended & maximum price only. 2 Silicon Chip Publisher’s Letter Pumped hydro storage is no panacea for renewables Pumped storage will not allow renewable power sources to replace base-load power stations. There, I have said it. As indicated in last month’s Publisher’s Letter, we do have an article on Pumped Hydroelectric Storage in this month’s issue, written by Dr David Maddison. Australia has had the Snowy Hydroelectric Scheme for over 40 years and an important part of that system is pumped storage; Tumut 3, to be specific. Of course, the Snowy scheme was built long before renewable power sources were even thought of. It has been a great system and it could be expanded, as described in David Maddison’s article. However, when you want to substitute renewables for coal-fired power stations, which Australian state governments seem committed to, pumped storage won’t allow renewables to give reliable 24-hour power delivery. If you wanted to substitute wind turbines for a 1GW coal-fired power station, say, you would need about 3000 1MW turbines, because they only generate power for about 30% of the time. If you are going to back up those wind turbines with pumped storage, you need a system similar in size to the Snowy’s Tumut 3, which would only provide power for up to three days. And if our national grid is to have a much higher proportion of renewable energy inputs instead of boring base-load power stations, then we have a much greater problem. The Australian Labor Party is advocating that renewable energy sources should make up 50% of the grid. That is just not workable. Airbags could kill your daughter Most people who read our feature article on Airbags in the November 2016 issue probably regard them as a wonderful development which reduces car accident deaths and serious injuries. Inevitably though, some people do manage to turn their car’s airbags into potentially lethal weapons. How? Just consider all those young girls who ride in the front passenger’s seat with their feet up on the dashboard; actually on the panel for the passenger’s front airbag! I shudder to think of the severity of their injuries when the car has a collision in which that airbag is activated. In just a matter of milliseconds, the passenger’s airbag becomes fully inflated. At the same time, the girl’s torso will have begun to “porpoise” underneath the seatbelt and her pelvis will keep moving at the car’s original velocity into the foot-well, underneath the glovebox. At same time, her legs will be accelerated to more than 200km/h past her head, missing it, if she’s lucky. Or perhaps not. So what sort of injuries can she expect? The list probably includes smashed pelvis and damaged hips, broken legs, dislocated knees, all sorts of torn ligaments and tendons, and that’s without considering severe internal organ damage, broken ribs, punctured lungs and the possibility that her knees and arms do collide with her face. Death seems highly likely just from shock. Maybe you feel superior in not being guilty of the above stupidity. But many people sit way too close to the steering wheel – they are in harm’s way. And if they drive with their right hand at 10 o’clock on the wheel (or with left hand at 2 o’clock), in the event of a collision their hand could become a projectile which hits their face at over 100km/h! So keep the wheel at arm’s length and do not cross your arms over the wheel when driving. I wish every reader a safe and happy New Year. Finally, last month we farewelled Greg Swain who has worked for Silicon Chip since its inception in 1987 and before that, at Electronics Australia magazine; a period of more than 40 years. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement, Greg. Leo Simpson siliconchip.com.au