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Comment: Re:Referendum at sea (Score 1) 197

but simply building a peaceful house, there is no fighting...

That's invasion or illegal landing of an illegal immigrant. If someone tried dropping (say) a Mexican on an island off the coast of America, you'd count that as an illegal immigrant being landed, which would result in the arrest of the landed person and the seizure of the vessel assisting the illegal immigrant.

Your thought experiment isn't well thought out. Try running it again in the Great Salt Lake, as I said up-thread. The Kara Sea is surrounded by Russian-occupied islands. Everything in it is as Russian as any islands in the Great Salt Lake are American.

Comment: Re:Time for a new date (Score 1) 197

I work in exploration of the continental slopes (there's a damned good reason for my vessel to have holds capable of carrying 3km of riser pressure-rated to 20kpsi). It's on-going. Unfortunately the costs are much higher than for exploring, developing and producing in shallow water, which is why only the highest-quality prospects are worth developing.

Unless you believe Tom Gold (which would get you laughed out of any board room with a geologist in it), you need sediment in considerable quantities to generate significant quantities of hydrocarbons (note below). After which, looking at your hypsographic curve you'll see that the 5km water depth contour (OK, "isobath") encompasses something slightly less than 5% of the Earth's surface while the average depth of the oceans is 3800m.

And now you know why the commercial vessel I work on (one of 4 sister ships, built to the same basic design) has space for 3km of marine riser, and the largest vessels on the slipways of China only carry 5km of riser.

Some early explorations were discouraging, but MOST exploration is discouraging.

In intensely planned remote area deep water offshore exploration, the discovery rate is about one well in three.

I was discussing a previous well with another vessel's weather forecaster (that'll tell you which region we were in) who informed me that core was brought to the surface on three occasions which was oozing with oil; my geological sources refused to comment (quite correctly) several years later when I quizzed them about it, which I take as confirmation. A discovery! Yes. The prospect and regional license was abandoned. The discovery wasn't big enough to have a chance of repaying the billion dollars poured into finding it.

Welcome to offshore exploration.

Comment: Re:Best outcome (Score 1) 197

I've lived in a place where I don't need a car for longer than Slashdot has existed - by a factor of over three.

You'll note that it doesn't stop me from having access to the internet. You might also note that I don't live in New York, another place where a car is more of a hindrance than a help. (Same for pretty much any city founded before 1900, and most cities founded afterwards.)

Comment: Re:They will move to a different charging model (Score 3) 240

by radtea (#48024551) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

If the amount of money made from the actual electricity falls too far then the cost will be transferred to a network connection costs.

It doesn't really matter how the accounting is done, utilities are going to have to charge more for power as they sell less of it, because their fixed costs are such a large proportion of their total costs. Fixed costs account for anywhere from 75 to 100% of plant costs: (the data in table 1 appear to mean "fuel cost" when they say "variable cost").

The utilities model is based on the notion that you can recover your capital costs (and more) over the lifetime of the plant. The rapid rise of solar in particular is putting that at risk, and utilities are caught between a rock and a hard place. They can fight by keeping power costs low, and lose, or they can fight by raising their power costs--however they want to do the accounting--and also lose.

Personally, I hope they raise the costs. It will make low-carbon alternatives like wind and solar more attractive.

Comment: Re:It seems to me... (Score 1) 395

by RockDoctor (#48022423) Attached to: The Physics of Space Battles

Likewise, perhaps *we* can't focus a laser today, but that's not an inherent limitation of lasers even by today's known physics,

Errr, diffraction?

That's pretty fundamental for lasers, as long as they continue to consist of electromagnetic waves.

We could get away from it with particle beams - but that's substituting one wavelength for a shorter wavelength. And your particle beams have to be neutral, otherwise they'd disperse rapidly by electrostatic repulsion. And if the particles are not joined to each other then they're still going to disperse. So you're back to projectiles. It may or may not matter if they're solid or liquid if you can get your rail gun velocity high enough, but until then ... there are good reasons for making bullets out of depleted uranium, and those reason aren't going to go away in space.

Could we get around diffraction limits in future? Well, slim possibilities of using the negative refractive indices of metamaterials. But I've got a sneaking suspicion that you'll need to get the beam focussed to a particular range ... which is not a perfect solution, but would probably be useful. And putting anything relatively delicate (metamaterials) in the path of energy intended to cause damage is a recipe for things breaking.

You might find that the long term use of beamed energy weapons is restricted to pulsed and shaped beams of high-intensity microwaves intended to fuck up transmission and reception of communications, where the beam sources are controlled in phase to generate the damaging effects at a chosen range. Non-trivial weapons, but not a death ray.

Comment: Re:Second recommendation (Score 1) 248

by RockDoctor (#48022221) Attached to: Could We Abort a Manned Mission To Mars?
Worked my way through "Red Mars" ; not feeling any particular desire to order Blue or Green. OTOH, if I found myself imprisoned on an oil rig (which happens several times a year, for up to several months at a time) with nothing else to read, I'd probably not be too upset. That's not going to happen, because I'm the only SF fan who takes books out for the rig's library.

Comment: Re:Extremely Unlikely (Score 1) 185

by RockDoctor (#48022023) Attached to: The Odd Effects of Being Struck By Lightning
A dome that large would probably be big enough for thunderstorms to develop within it.

Therefore, the people who came up with this idea are trying to develop a terribly unsafe solution. Which makes that proposer a terrorist.

The bus will be along to collect you soon. It's more economical than sending out a whole black helicopter for each convict.

Comment: Re:May not take apart? What? (Score 1) 170

by RockDoctor (#48021501) Attached to: When Everything Works Like Your Cell Phone

I would say that power consumption of small devices will drop and all devices could last forever.

The lifetime of straps and casings would become a limiting factor.

About 6 or 7 years ago my wife got me a radio-updated, solar cell-powered wrist-watch of theoretically unlimited lifetime. It lasted about 3 years, when the strap ( a complex bolt and lug fitting, not a regular pin joint) broke. It took me 18 months to find a replacement, which then cost more in taxes than the face value to bring into the country. A real PITA, which I wouldn't have done except that it was a birthday present.

There's always some point of failure. Cure one, and you'll find the next. The next thing to go will probably be the solar cell. (Incidentally, "solar powered" means different things in short-sleeved sunny tropical weather versus the cold and dark of long-sleeved northern climes.)

Comment: Re:What argument? (Score 1) 197

Arguably? You've carried out your own exploration and you disagree about its extent?

Here's an argument : The Kara Sea is 880000km.sq of mostly shallow waters ; the GoM is 615000km.sq of deep and shallow water. Both have major rivers draining the interiors of continents into them, bringing in sediment and organic matter. So there's no immediate reason to expect much different quantities of sediment or their yield in barrels oil per sediment. Therefore, if anything, you'd expect the Kara Sea to be appreciably bigger than the GoM. Complexity of drilling and distance from market will counterbalance that to some degree in the direction of the GoM.

All in all, I've just argued that the Kara Sea could well be bigger than the Gulf Of Mexico.

Comment: Re:Time for a new date (Score 1) 197

FWIW, I'd bet that there are lots of undiscovered oil fields under deep ocean, or perhaps that you need to access by drilling sideways into the continental shelf. But that's expensive even compared to working in the Arctic Ocean.

FWIW, the USGS's estimate for global undiscovered oil reserves puts around a quarter of the total in the Arctic regions. Mostly because until recently it was really, really hard to do exploration work there, so everywhere else got explored already.

Comment: Re:In highschool (Score 1) 197

In the Kara Sea? That is a much rougher place to work than in the Gulf of Mexico.

So what?

We've been working in the northern North Sea, Norwegian Sea, Canadian Grand Banks (colloquially "iceberg alley") for decades now (I'm just listing the ones where I've worked, personally), and the Russians have been working Sakhalin for 15 years now (I've only done office work on wells from these fields).

Just because it's too rough for Louisiana rednecks to work, doesn't mean that it's hard to work there. Just that Louisiana rednecks don't know how to work there.

...when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. - Fred Brooks, Jr.