Short break to prepare complicated strip

We’re currently working on a sophisticated strip that consists of two large and very detailed drawings. Therefore we will only publish one new Sandra and Woo strip next week. In exchange, I will post two filler drawings that we prepared for such a case.

Is this the most important invention in the history of mankind…

Is this the most important invention in the history of mankind…

Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat

… or is it just the hoax of the decade?

Andrea Rossi, a previously convicted con artist, has been working on a device called E-Cat which is supposed to generate energy in a process commonly described as “cold fusion” or “LENR”. Now, what separates his “invention” from that of other esoteric oddballs is that a more-or-less independent experiment has been carried out with baffling, or rather absolutely incredible, results. A few scientists from the universities of Bologna (Italy) and Uppsala (Sweden) and the Swedish Institute of Technology have published their findings in a scientific paper.

Now, I know nothing of electro chemistry, but what these guys write in their paper is quite peculiar:

The measured energy balance between input and output heat yielded a coefficient of performance factor of about 3.2 and 3.6. […] This amount of energy is far more than can be obtained from any known chemical sources in the small reactor volume.

The isotope composition in Lithium and Nickel was found to agree with the natural composition before the run, while after the run it was found to have changed substantially. Nuclear reactions are herefore indicated to be present in the run process, which however is hard to reconcile with the fact that no radioactivity was detected outside the reactor during the run.

In summary, the performance of the E-Cat reactor is remarkable. We have a device giving heat energy compatible with nuclear transformations, but it operates at low energy and gives neither nuclear radioactive waste nor emits radiation. From basic general knowledge in nuclear physics this should not be possible.

Of course, this yields some interesting questions:

  • In which way are the scientists (most of them already carried out a simpler test on the E-Cat earlier) related to Andrea Rossi?
  • Is someone (who has read the whole paper and is proficient in chemistry/physics) able to come up with an explanation how Rossi could have manipulated the test setup?
  • Can the experiment be repeated by a different team of (more prolific) scientists?

I’ll keep you updated about the issue.

UPDATE: A man called Barry Kort offered some criticism of the experiment on Breaking Energy that may be valid:

I assert there is an error in the energy budget model. It’s not an assumption, it’s an assertion based on a careful reading of the report.

The experimenters report their energy budget model, which can be seen to be at odds with the visible evidence and well-known physical properties of alumina.

The IR camera requires the assumption of an opaque isothermal black body radiator with known emissivity. But translucent alumina is not opaque. The IR camera is receiving photons from transmission through the translucent shell, photons emitted from a different material (Inconel) and at a different temperature from the alumina. The experimenters need to address this discrepancy in their energy budget model.

Cameo in Simon & Freddy

A few weeks ago, Woo had a guest appearance in Hukley’s comic strip Simon & Freddy:

Simon & Freddy

Poll results

From 5 September 2013 to 1 May 2014, the following eight polls ran on Sandra and Woo. All but one of them got over 2,000 votes and it’s time to present the results.

Poll from 5 September 2013:

Poll Nr. 63

Although many casual readers may not have participated in the poll, those are some great numbers with 50% of our readers placing Sandra and Woo in their personal top 3 of all comics they read.

Poll from 5 September 2013:

Poll Nr. 64

Compared to the same poll from 10 December 2011, the number of Sandra and Woo readers who also read Gaia has decreased by 3%. That’s not a drop that I’d find alarming.

Poll from 5 September 2013:

Poll Nr. 65

Compared to the same poll from 6 April 2010, the most notable change is the significant drop of people who particularly enjoy reading comics featuring animals. In contrast, more people are fond of fantasy and action comics. I suspect that many of them first found Gaia and then started to read Sandra and Woo as well. School comics are still surprisingly unpopular.

Poll from 5 September 2013:

Poll Nr. 66

The readership is dominated by readers who found Sandra and Woo just recently. I wonder why so few of the people who joint us in 2009 are still sticking around.

Poll from 24 November 2013:

Poll Nr. 67

Compared to the same poll from 4 September 2010, Larisa’s popularity has grown massively, in expense of Woo’s. I’m a little sad that my favorite character Sandra is once again on the last position. Because I think that girl really ties the comic together. 😉

Poll from 24 November 2013:

Poll Nr. 68

Compared to the same poll from 13 November 2009, longer story arcs have become even more popular. I’m a bit puzzled by that since single strips usually get more comments and page views than strips that are part of a story arc.

Poll from 24 November 2013:

Poll Nr. 69

It’s official: Sandra and Woo readers are hardcore gamers who play at least one new game per week! Only 17%, including me, are filthy casuals who only play a few games per year. 😉

Poll from 24 November 2013:

Poll Nr. 70

Yeah, I’m not surprised. Zoey x Michelle was our most popular story arc so far, there’s no doubt about it. My personal favorite was Woo’s first meeting with Seeoahtlahmakaskay. I still have to use copy&paste for her name all the time. 😉

Something funny I found

Something funny I found on my hard drive from the time when the best rated comments were shown in the right sidebar.