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Comment: Re:I have said it before (Score 2) 130

by Rei (#49187531) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles

All of Areva's renewables investments combined are less than 10% of their business. And they're performing far better than their core nuclear business. I find it amazing that you argue that they shouldn't have invested in the few projects they're involved in that are actually paying off.

Comment: Re:I have said it before (Score 2) 130

by Rei (#49187333) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles

It's not just neutron bombardment either. Your fuel is producing almost every element in the periodic table, anisotropically and varying across time. It's pretty much the worst situation one could come up with from a containment standpoint inside the fuel even before you factor in neutron bombardment.

Then there's the nature of nuclear disasters: they're disasters in slow motion. The upside is that few people usually die from them because there's usually plenty of time to get away. The downside is that they take bloody forever and a king's ransom to clean up, where it's even possible. Picture, for example, an accident at Indian Point that would increase NYC residents' rate of cancer over the next 10 years by two to three orders of magnitude. You could evacuate over days to weeks and it'd have little impact on public health. But you'd be having to pay for the loss and cleanup of New York City. That is, of course, an extreme case, but it's an illustration of the financial challenge faced by an industry that deals with large amounts of chemicals that are incredibly toxic even in the minutest quantities. Screwups can turn out to be REALLY BIG screwups.

Comment: Re:conditions found in space (Score 1) 66

by Rei (#49187299) Attached to: NASA Ames Reproduces the Building Blocks of Life In Laboratory

Judging from our sample size of one on what sort of conditions life can thrive in, and a couple datapoints on where it doesn't seem to, I think we haven't the foggiest of clues where we're actually likely to find life. There seems to be this presumption among many that "where we find liquid water we should find life, and where we don't find liquid water we shouldn't". I think that's totally logically indefensible. We have no bloody clue whether water-based life is a common or rare occurrence, nor whether non-water-based life is a common or rare occurrence. We have way, way to little data to be drawing these kind of conclusions.

Comment: Re:Sorry, but... (Score 1) 66

by Rei (#49187285) Attached to: NASA Ames Reproduces the Building Blocks of Life In Laboratory

Life can be defined empirically and that's a good enough of a description. The problem is people debating over what that definition should be. The problem with gravity is not describing it, but figuring out why it exists as it does. They're very different situations.

Most people agree on the basics of life - something that can self replicate and evolve - but it's the details that pose the thorny issues. For example, how particular is it about its environment? Viruses leave most of the work of their reproduction to outside sources, so there are many people who don't want to call them life. But there's a continuous slope between that and something that can survive on nothing more than sunlight, water, CO2 and trace minerals; you don't say that a cat isn't alive because it can't make taurine and has to rely on external entities to do so, for example. And at an even more basic level, how picky must one be about what constitutes "replication"? What if you have imperfect replicators that create entities "similar" to themselves, which may have varying degrees (perhaps frequently "zero") of ability to replicate themselves? Certainly such a thing has the potential to at least lead to life. But is it life? If not then what's the cutoff point in terms of replicative accuracy when you start to call it life and the inaccuracies in its reproduction "evolution"?

Comment: Re:Space (Score 3, Informative) 66

by Rei (#49187263) Attached to: NASA Ames Reproduces the Building Blocks of Life In Laboratory

I don't think this is at all special. There have been tons of space-matter-abiogenesis experiments that have been done, with similar results. For example, it's been shown that Titan's atmosphere can produce at least 16 amino acids and all five nucleotide bases, and we've already detected organic molecules over 10000 daltons there.

Nature likes to produce rather complex mixtures of organic chemicals without any help from life, nobody should doubt this any more, there's been way too much evidence that it happens. Nature is more than happy to continously rain down vast amounts of varied, complex organics given the right situation, providing both potential organic catalysts to develop into early life and "food" that they can scavenge. The question that needs to be answered next is, from a random diverse mix of organics, how does a hypercycle get started, wherein some chemicals / mixtures of chemicals / families of chemicals begin to encourage the creation of more chemicals "like" them, increasing the odds that there will be more produced of whatever is needed to keep the cycle going. Once you get to that point, you have the potential for evolution to take hold - first by a simple race to produce the most exact copies of the most efficiently-catalyzing chemicals and the poisoning of competing chemicals, up to the development of membranes to provide defense/hoarde resources/survive adverse situations/etc (the first "ur-cells").

Comment: Re:I have said it before (Score 4, Insightful) 130

by Rei (#49187113) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles

Right. Having the government cover all of your major liabilities, getting to write off massive debts, pass all of your cost overruns onto local consumers without them having a say in the manner, and so on, that's all "paying their own way", right? In nuclear power, the gains have always been privatized while the costs and risks socialized. And it's *still* been very difficult to find investors. Nuclear has always been more popular on K-Street than Wall Street.

Here's a paper going into the various massive ways nuclear has been subsidies. And they still can't bloody manage to stay afloat. It's one of the few industries with a negative growth curve - where technology gets more expensive with time, not cheaper.

Comment: Re:Comparing Nonsense (Score 4, Informative) 235

by Rei (#49179093) Attached to: The US's First Offshore Wind Farm Will Cut Local Power Prices By 40%

Wow, way to not link to a study, but rather a Smithsonian blog talking about a Wordpress blog talking about a study. You clearly love your primary sources!

FYI, the study is just one of many. The study itself cites others, including:

20,000 birds/yr (Sovacool, 2012)
10,000–40,000 birds/yr (Erickson et al., 2001 and Manville, 2005)
20,000–40,000 birds/yr (Erickson et al., 2005)
440,000 (Manville, 2009)
573,000 (Smallwood, 2013).

The latter two include lattice towers, which are largely being decommissioned as unsafe to birds.

But hey, having varied numbers clearly means that if you can find a blog linking to another blog linking to a study that shows high numbers (among many different studies), then clearly the GP is "plain wrong", right?

And yes, even if we go with your choice study's mean of 234,012 annual bird deaths, that's still orders of magnitude less than many other types of human activities.

Comment: Re:Yes, I agree, but no shortage of stupid GUI (Score 1) 553

by TapeCutter (#49176627) Attached to: Why We Should Stop Hiding File-Name Extensions
My biggest beef is they changed how default file search operates in explorer on win7, old search just looked at filenames, new one looks inside files. Complete pain in the arse, I'm the gate keeper for a large cvs repository, I don't want a list of 5000 .c files when I'm searching for a particular .h file, I want a list with just the .h file in it. If they must try and compete with grep then a simple "look inside files" checkbox on the old dialog would have been better. Or better still put the search feature from Visual Studio into explorer as a separate "search in files" right click option.

Personally I think MS's tendency to kill useful stable features and move the carcass to a different UI location is a 'plot' to sell more MS training courses for non-technical staff.

Comment: Re:Bad idea (Score 4, Insightful) 644

by Rei (#49176087) Attached to: Snowden Reportedly In Talks To Return To US To Face Trial

The number of grammatical cases is irrelevant. Question: What's the difference between a grammatical case without stem changes and a postposition (opposite of a preposition? Answer: A space.

  That which is challenging, apart from stem changes, is the same thing that is challenging with helper words in general: when to use what with what. Picture a person learning English and trying to remember what to use with what. "I was scolding her.... over it? for it? about it? to it? around it?" "We were unhappy.... over it? for it? about it? to it? around it?" "She was dedicated.... over it? for it? about it? to it? around it?" And so forth. It's the same for people trying to learn which declension case to use in which context. But if the declensions are just suffixes without stem changes, then they're no different from postpositions. And often stem changes where they occur follow pretty predictable rules, often for pronunciation reasons.

Comment: Re:Full blooded American here (Score 2, Insightful) 644

by NeutronCowboy (#49175569) Attached to: Snowden Reportedly In Talks To Return To US To Face Trial

Yes, because writing an opinion that differs from yours is clearly only possible by being paid to do so. *eyeroll*

Making public a lot of things that people suspected but didn't quite know did indeed damage relationships. Had he not released the documents, the relationships would have continued as before.

Whether or not the secret actions should have been authorized in the first place is an entirely different issue. From my perspective, having to stamp "secret" on an authorization to do things that you know would piss off your friends is a sign that you probably should not be doing these things, or make you re-evaluate who your friends are.

Comment: Re:What exactly were the rules? (Score 1) 522

After some quick digging, this appears to be the law broken:

That link says nothing whatsoever about rules for government employee e-mail.

That's a link to rules about ISPs archiving e-mail that is the subject of a subpoena.

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: A firefly is not a fly, but a beetle.