Traveling To Ireland Anytime Soon? Expect Some Airport Humiliation

Traveling To Ireland Anytime Soon?  Expect Some Airport Humiliation

The East Japan Railway Company hasn’t forgotten customer service.  Foot baths and sake are an available courtesy to customers traveling on their new bullet train two-hour service between Shinjo and Fukushima.  Apparently they consider it their job to make your trip as pleasurable as possible.


That’s a far cry from the experience you may have with Aer Lingus on route to Ireland – truly the “land of a thousand welcomes.”  The airline has instituted a strict overweight baggage rule.  If your check-in bag is over 50lbs – whether by 3lbs or 30lbs-- you pay $100!  If two bags are slightly over, it’ll cost you $200!

What’s that?  You’re organized and plan ahead?  Well done!  But don’t be too sure that your home scale matches theirs.  And then there’s the price you pay on the way home.  You know those beautiful Irish arts and crafts you bought before leaving for the airport?  They just may cost you a bundle.  Thank Aer Lingus for penalizing tourist spending and support of the arts with $100 penalties for what could be as little as a pound or two of souvenirs. 

Passengers with “overweight” baggage have the humiliating experience of spreading across the floor at check-in counters as they attempt to shift weight from one bag to another.  Restless passengers standing in line wait anxiously to learn if this humiliation will be theirs.  And if you think you’re going to shift that weight to a carry-on bag – even one that fits the size restrictions – think again.  Those have a weight limit too!

You’d be wise to carry a lightweight duffle bag inside one of your check-in bags.  Then if you’re over the limit, you can take it out, drop to the floor, spread your nicely packed personal items everywhere, fill the duffle, repack and pay a penalty of $100 for the pleasure of flying the unfriendly skies.

Otherwise, you may need to hustle to an airport baggage retailer delighted with the new policy, pay them about $100 for a small bag, move items from your “overweight” bag into it and get back in line to pay your $100 penalty. 

Elderly people trying to shift weight from one bag to another with no place to sit, parents with crying children, and anyone rushed enough to have overstuffed their bags a bit can expect to be treated more like cattle than customers.  This, you may be assured, is not typical of Irish hospitality.

You have to wonder how much the airline is making on such indifference to their customers.  And what financial genius determined that 3 lbs or 30lbs over, you pay the same exorbitant price?  It’s a gotcha mentality – the antithesis of customer service -- one that customers should think twice about before accepting as just the way things are now days. 

Granted, travel is a bear.  Some of the inconveniences are safety and security necessities.  Some, though, are simply inexcusable customer abuse. 

Most travelers don’t expect foot baths and sake.  But they don’t expect to be taken for a ride other than the one they paid for in the first place.

photo: monticello/www.shutterstock.com

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China has reached a new record for nuclear fusion at 120 million degrees Celsius.

Credit: STR via Getty Images
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This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

China wants to build a mini-star on Earth and house it in a reactor. Many teams across the globe have this same bold goal --- which would create unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion.

But according to Chinese state media, New Atlas reports, the team at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has set a new world record: temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds.

Yeah, that's hot. So what? Nuclear fusion reactions require an insane amount of heat and pressure --- a temperature environment similar to the sun, which is approximately 150 million degrees C.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it. In nuclear fusion, the extreme heat and pressure create a plasma. Then, within that plasma, two or more hydrogen nuclei crash together, merge into a heavier atom, and release a ton of energy in the process.

Nuclear fusion milestones: The team at EAST built a giant metal torus (similar in shape to a giant donut) with a series of magnetic coils. The coils hold hot plasma where the reactions occur. They've reached many milestones along the way.

According to New Atlas, in 2016, the scientists at EAST could heat hydrogen plasma to roughly 50 million degrees C for 102 seconds. Two years later, they reached 100 million degrees for 10 seconds.

The temperatures are impressive, but the short reaction times, and lack of pressure are another obstacle. Fusion is simple for the sun, because stars are massive and gravity provides even pressure all over the surface. The pressure squeezes hydrogen gas in the sun's core so immensely that several nuclei combine to form one atom, releasing energy.

But on Earth, we have to supply all of the pressure to keep the reaction going, and it has to be perfectly even. It's hard to do this for any length of time, and it uses a ton of energy. So the reactions usually fizzle out in minutes or seconds.

Still, the latest record of 120 million degrees and 101 seconds is one more step toward sustaining longer and hotter reactions.

Why does this matter? No one denies that humankind needs a clean, unlimited source of energy.

We all recognize that oil and gas are limited resources. But even wind and solar power --- renewable energies --- are fundamentally limited. They are dependent upon a breezy day or a cloudless sky, which we can't always count on.

Nuclear fusion is clean, safe, and environmentally sustainable --- its fuel is a nearly limitless resource since it is simply hydrogen (which can be easily made from water).

With each new milestone, we are creeping closer and closer to a breakthrough for unlimited, clean energy.

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