The Wheel of Hamsters

Posted: January 25, 2011 by tallbloke in climate, Energy

While I was travelling to Lisbon, I made a plane change at Schiphol airport in the Netherlands. Stepping outside for some air (and a smoke) I was amused to see this; A giant hamster wheel being driven round by two runners, raising awareness for a cancer charity.

I spoke with the guy in the baseball cap, and when I asked him how much power the wheel generated, he told me:
“About 60 Watts per person”.
I asked him where the electrical connections were for the exercise bikes grouped around the machine:
“Oh they just generate positive energy” he said. “It’s symbolic”.

This struck me as a good metaphor for the entire alternative energy industry. A high profile symbolic act by governments anxious to prove their green credentials. Research and test by all means, but spend billions putting up inefficient windmills?

Good job the control tower seen through the wheel in the first photo doesn’t rely on this system for power…

Beautiful piece of engineering though… 🙂

  1. Joe Lalonde says:


    For God’s sake, don’t show this to any politician!
    We’ll all be taking turn’s generating power. 🙂

    Have a good time!

    One day I should show you how to create a flexible staircase to any house design that tries to be real fancy.

  2. P.G. Sharrow says:

    60 watts per runner and how much money to create that “symbolic” device. A blowup of that would be a great show and tell for what “green” solutions are really worth and cost. 8-( pg

  3. tallbloke says:

    I think there is going to be room in the agenda to make some comments about expensive, symbolic, but ultimately useless gestures. It’s time we focussed available funds on finding out the basic facts we need to know to be able to work out what the big factors in climate change really are.

    It’s late and we had a good evening out, full report tomorrow.

  4. R. de Haan says:

    Great, do you know what Obama proposed in his State of the Union address?
    80% CO2 reduction, carbon trading, bio fuels, 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015 and lots of alternative energy.

    Do you know what’s happened with his approval rating?

    It went up from 55 to over 70%

    These Americans deserve Obama for another six years.

    I didn’t know we had so many stupid people in this country.

    Schiphol by the way is a great airport, one of the best on my top 10 list

  5. B.Kindseth says:

    Tallbloke: “It’s time we focussed available funds on finding out the basic facts we need to know to be able to work out what the big factors in climate change really are.”

    In engineering, there are established properties for every material that you use and established specifications for manufacturing processes and analytic procedures. When a model is built, every input is based on solid scientific and empirical ground. But it does not end there. After a design is completed, hardware is built and tested. Data from the tests are used to match the model to the data. I do not see much similarity in the global warming science community.

    The IPCC documents are not a statement of science, but propaganda documents by definition which only present one side of the science. We need to get back to the basics of science, possibly a web site which an encyclopedia of basic information. That should include defintion of acceptable statistical procedures.