The milestone came after decades of research into lasers and various approaches to achieving fusion. In the aftermath of this achievement, what I found remarkable is that in 1972, just 12 years after lasers were invented by Hughes lab, Lawrence lab physicist John Nuckolls theorized that fusion could be achieved by focusing lasers on a target of deuterium and tritium. Nuckolls rose to direct the lab from 1988 to 1994. His theory became reality last month 50 years after he wrote it.
This was a big week for progressive politicians in the East Bay when Oakland swore in Sheng Thao as mayor and she swore in Pamela Price as Alameda County District Attorney. Yesenia Sanchez, formerly a commander and a career employee in the Alameda County Sheriff’s Dept. was sworn in as sheriff after stunning four-term incumbent Greg Ahern last June.
Both have agendas to change how their respective departments operate, particularly Price whose plans pretty much mirror those of recalled San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin. Don’t be surprised to see major personnel shifts in the department, particularly at the management level. Law enforcement groups backed Terry Wiley, the top assistant in the department, in the election.
There was a little-noticed change in state law that consolidated sheriff’s and district attorney’s elections with presidential years instead of gubernatorial elections in California as had been the practice. The law extends the 2022 terms from four years to six years so both Price and Sanchez will have two more years to move the needle before facing voters again.
Oregon regulators jumped on the California bandwagon by banning the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and trucks in 2035, now just 12 years away. Having driven in recent years through rural Nevada, Utah and Oregon where gas stations can easily be 50-75 miles apart, I suspect there will be a vigorous market for used gasoline vehicles there because there’s no way charging stations for electric vehicles are going to be built in those remote areas. There’s little landscape difference in the sparsely populated high desert of eastern Oregon than in Nevada or Utah.
I chuckled a bit at the CalTrans warnings for travel with last week’s big storm ready to hit California. Among the recommendations was a full tank of gas or a full charge if you were headed for the mountains. Freezing weather is particularly challenging for batteries that discharge faster and perform more poorly in those conditions. We got caught behind an accident on I-80 after an early season snow storm a few years ago and it was four hours before we could proceed.
We’ve also had eight- or nine-hour trips home from Lake Tahoe in tough conditions. Having driven diesel-powered sedans for 50 years, I know first-hand what I needed to do to keep the engines ready to start in below freezing conditions—the reduced juice coming from the battery counts there as well. I can imagine a host of electric vehicles with discharged batteries scattered on I-80 near Donner Summit and ask how they’re going to get charged or better yet on the two-lane portion of Highway 50 that climbs up to Echo Summit.