Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wear a Red Hat for Halloween!

In the last 18-hrs or so, a lot of people have been having fun with this big WTF/whatzit?
Google is behind two mysterious construction projects moored in San Francisco Bay and Portland Harbor, reports say. Insiders say they’re either floating data hubs or mobile marketing centers for Google Glass.
What's the Web behemoth building on barges off the coast of San Francisco and Maine?
The Internet giant is playing characteristically coy about a pair of floating construction projects in the Bay Area and Portland, Maine, that experts say bear their footprints.
Some speculated they are floating data centers, while other said they're destined to become marketing hubs for Google Glass, the company's wearable computer.
My vote is for the marketing ploy ... because it is working already. Float one up and down the East Coast, another the West Coast ... why not?

I also think it would be beyond nuts for them to be "floating data centers." Why? Simple ... and let's go back to the history books for our reason.

OPS: Offshore Power Systems.
Tenneco and Westinghouse Corporations formed a joint venture in May, 1972, designated Offshore Power Systems, to market, design and manufacture standard nuclear power plants for offshore installation. The plant design is a totally integrated nuclear generating station, mounted on a floating platform and moored within a protective breakwater. The plant is standardized such that it can be sited along the East and Gulf Coasts of the United States. This paper discusses the design of the platform which serves as the foundation for the Floating Nuclear Plant.
The platform is approximately 400 feet long, 378 feet wide and 40 feet deep with a plant displacement of about 150,000 short tons. Full depth bulkheads run in both the longitudinal and transverse directions extending the length and width of the platform to form a grid. Along the 378 foot width bulkheads are located at regular intervals of 37 feet; 9 inches. Along the 400 foot length bulkhead spacing varies from approximately 47 feet to 82 feet.
There are a variety of reasons this never took off. End of the oil embargo, Three-Mile Island hysteria, etc ... but let's face it.

Static. Floating. Nuclear. Power. Plant.

Things that float in place have a habit of sinking for a variety of natural and man made reasons. From huricanes like Katrina to the "Perfect Storm" in the 1990s ... to the occasional rogue wave - the sea is a rough and tumble place. Floating nuclear power plants on warships can get out of the way. Land nuclear plants can shut down and pray.

No. Something that critical in the civlian world does not belong on something where anyone with a 19th century limpet mine can send to the bottom if a faulty weld doesn't.

We have been lucky that the enemy who attacked us in 2001 has such blood lust. Their initial instinct was right - if you want the West to collapse on itself, go after its economy. Even though we seem intent on destroying ourselves without their help, eventually they will go back after economic targets when they get smart and tire of sawing heads off of journalists.

Google announces that they have their data centers floating in open harbors on used barges? Why even get a limpet mine when a cigarette boat or Cessna will do the job just fine? Better yet, just wait for the next big storm to come along.

If Google really looking at putting something with so much value at so much risk, eventually someone with an interest in keeping the company as a going concern will walk in to their underwriter and legal risk mitigation offices with an actuary to review the history of storm damage, flooding, and PR issues that result when water finds its level. Then, like what Westinghouse did with OPS - they will kill the idea before it creates real damage.

That is my bet, YMMD.

1 comment:

G Lof said...

A couple of thinks about this blog.

Frist, not all those floating Nuclear Power Plants were intended for offshore use. Some designs were intended to float inland, up rivers, where they be placed in man made ponds. Those ponds would be surrounded by dikes that would protect the sites from various types of high water.

Second I can see the usefulness of floating data storage site as Disaster Recover Center, that would provide the network services were land base using have been damaged. The big advantage is that being afloat, the are mobile, and can covered large areas.