Electricity is generated at power plants. You know that already. But to really understand how it gets to your house—and why you can count on it getting there reliably—you have to understand that our electric system is more complicated than it looks. The electric grid isn't just about you and your connection to a power plant. There are lots of thing that have to happen behind the scenes to make sure your refrigerator stays cold and your lights turn on.
One of the key components in the system are grid control centers—places where technicians manage electric supply and electric demand. This is important. In order for the grid to operate without blackouts there must always be an almost perfect balance between supply and demand. The grid doesn't really include any electrical storage, so that balance has to be maintained manually—on a minute-by-minute basis—by grid controllers who work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This isn't the best way to make a grid work, but it's what we've done since the earliest days of electricity.
In the April issue of Discover, I take readers on a tour of one of these grid control centers.
1. A River Runs Through It
Power plants generate electricity, but they do not create anything from scratch. Instead, generators take electrons, which normally orbit the nucleus of an atom, and force them to move independently through the grid’s closed path. When too many electrons build up or their numbers in the system (monitored here) fall too low, you get a total loss of power: a blackout.
Read the rest of story at Discover
Meet the grid controllers and learn more about the inner workings of our electric system in my book, Before the Lights Go Out.
Eliza writes, “A researcher from Lehigh University has invented a light-based pacemaker for fruit flies, and says a human version is ‘not impossible.’ The pacemaker relies on the new technique of ‘optogenetics,’ in which light-sensitive proteins are inserted into certain cells, allowing those cells to be activated by pulses of light. Here, the proteins were […]
San Francisco recently doubled the number of walls it was coating with hydrophobic paint, which is supposed to deter wall-pissing by making the urine spray back all over the pee-er.
“A sneezing monkey, a walking fish and a jewel-like snake are just some of a biological treasure trove of over 200 new species discovered in the Eastern Himalayas in recent years,” reports the World Wildlife Foundation today.
Lean Project Management, as the name suggests, is a popular method for wasting less time and effort over the duration of a project. By focusing on prioritizing tasks, Project Managers are able to boost productivity, meet goals, and, inevitably, impress the execs. This exam prep course is led by the accredited Management and Strategy Institute, […]
This Smartphone Photo Lens Kit arms you with six unique smartphone photography accessories, so you can take high-quality and well-composed photos of any subject from small insects to expansive landscapes.6 unique lensesRolls up neatly for transportTripod for stabilitySmall lenses attach seamlessly with magnetMicroscope and 8x telephoto lenses attach with a case (case attaches to phone)Lens wallet […]
Inspired by the universality of symbols, the founders of Noun Project began to collect thousands of hand-drawn icons. The concept has since transformed into a massive digital collection of 150,000+ unique icons that fuel the work of designers every day. Spend less time crafting icons and more time putting amazing designs out into the world with […]