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Comment Totally Revolutionize is a remarkable overstatemen (Score 5, Informative) 459

You're overstating. Let's look at the 2014 governor's race -- chosen because turnout is lower then a presidential election, thereby magnifying the impact of the Free State Project on voting.

Democratic Maggie Hassan, the incumbent, won 254,666 votes (52.49%) Republican Walt Havenstein, the challenger, won 229,610 votes (47.32%) Other/blank won 907 votes (0.1%)

New Hampshire has 1.327 million people (2014), 20.1% of which are under 18 (2014). That leaves 1.06 million adults. Not all are eligible, data is tough to put together, let's call it an even 1 million. Now, lets replace 20,000 adults at random with the Free Staters. 48.4% didn't vote, 25.5% voted for the Dem incumbent, 23.0% voted for the GOP challenger. 0.1% voted for another candidate or blanked it. Net change: Hassan loses 5100 voters, Havenstein loses 4592 voters, "other" loses 18 voters, and "free state" gains 20000. Even if all 20,000 free staters voted for the losing candidate (Havenstein), their candidate would still only get 49.5% to Hassan's 50.4%.

Is it possible that, if all 20,000 actually move to New Hampshire and all actually vote in a local election that they'll win some state house seats? You bet. No question. Thing is, the NH state house is so remarkably unstable that it would amount to just a bit more noise (% Dems in NH House of Rep at the end of the last four sessions (today is "end" for the purpose of this study): 55.4%, 26.4%, 55.2%, 40.1%.

Is it possible that their mere presence will result in Republican candidates leaning more libertarian? Sure, but within the state they're still only 4 percent of the electorate, and dispersed throughout the state. Certainly not enough to have a systematic effect on the NH GOP. But what if they all go Libertarian or some other third party candidate? Have at it, but good luck actually winning any representation in a First Past the Post system.

New Hampshire already does have a libertarian streak, as loads of Massholes emigrate to NH to escape taxes but retain their liberal social values. Even if all 20k Free Staters show up (and come on, not a chance), it would be a small nudge to NH politics, at best.

Comment No, no it isn't. (Score 4, Informative) 176

It is election time.

No it isn't, at least not generally. There are six senators that signed on:

  • * Bernie Sanders -- running for President now; up for reelection to the US Senate in November 2018.
  • * Ron Wyden -- up for reelection to the US Senate in November 2016.
  • * Jeff Merkley -- up for reelection to the US Senate in November 2020.
  • * Liz Warren -- up for reelection to the US Senate in November 2018.
  • * Ed Markey -- up for reelection to the US Senate in November 2020.
  • * Al Franken -- up for reelection to the US Senate in November 2020.

Giving Bernie a "0 months until election" that is still an average of three years until these six are up for reelection. It's not election time.

I get that you just don't trust the US elected politicians to do the work of the people. Fine. Feel that way. But don't spew factually inaccurate nonsense because you're either too ignorant of federal elections or too lazy to look it up. Perhaps a bit more civic engagement on your part might help prevent the old business overlords, hm?

Comment That's exactly right (Score 5, Insightful) 645

mdsolar's point isn't that we should build no new nuclear, at least not in this thread. His point is that nuclear can't, in and of itself, decarbonize the electric sector. We simply don't have the capacity to build that many nuclear power plants simultaneously, nor do we have the fuel, nor do we have the money.

The first one might be overcome. After all, if world leaders were able to simultaneously lay out this plan and get political support for it, part of the plan would include training more engineers, trades, and other jobs necessary. We might not be able to build 100 per year in 2016 (or even 2020), but we could ramp up.

The second one might be overcome. After all, with pressure for more fuel, we might go out and find more fuel, develop new techniques to find, recover, and process more fuel, etc. I doubt we could overcome it, but generally speaking if we went "long" on nuclear, at least some more fuel would turn up.

The third one is the toughest. Nuclear power, today, is more expensive than wind and in some places, more expensive than solar. Given that wind and solar don't have the political opposition, don't have 10-15 year lags from "let's build it" to "let's turn it on", and can be built in more places at far smaller increments, it's really tough to argue that we should spend the money on nuclear when there are cheaper options. But -- that could change. Improving the regulatory climate could help lower construction costs, as could improvements in design. Wind and solar $/kW will continue to fall for a while, but perhaps their supply inputs will become scarce and, at least for wind, the locations for the best wind become scarce. At some point in the future it's possible that the $/kWh for nuclear will become cheap enough, but it's not there now.

My view: don't put any option off the table, but let's spend our money to get the most decarbonization per buck. Right now, that means going long on energy efficiency, retiring the old coal units, building wind and solar where we can, and keeping (most) nuclear units already built up and running, so long as their safety is secure. Simultaneously, we should price carbon appropriately, eliminate subsidies on oil, coal, and gas, and be working to lower the cost of all no-carbon generating options using both technology and regulatory approaches. All of those things, together, will result in a steady least cost decarbonization of our electric sector, and if/when/where nuclear can beat out wind and solar, so be it.

Comment FSPers pale in comparison to ex-Massholes (Score 1) 388

The number of FSPers who have moved to New Hampshire pales in comparison to the number of moderately conservative white middle class suburban folks emigrating from Massachusetts. That voting bloc -- and yes, they do vote -- tend to lean law and order and are anti broad social spending, but are definitely not anti-government or libertarian. They're not after some government philosophy; they just want lower taxes for their single family home and 2 SUVs.

Comment No free games?! BS. (Score 1) 364

'in two years time I'm afraid there will be no free games to play in the world,'

That's absurd. First, there will always be DRM-free games. People like me will not buy them. I don't care if I have to wait 5 years before I play a game, selling my soul, privacy, control of my computer, and all the other hassles of DRM is not worth it. Eventually software companies will realize that they're losing out on people like me and our money, and eventually they'll come around.

Secondly, aside from DRM-free, closed-source, non-free commercial software, there are numerous free software games out there of varying quality.

Comment Re:Not coming to a sky near -me- (Score 1) 26

I'm totally with you on the lack of naked-eye night-sky access and I definitely don't want to minimize the loss it represents to city-dwelling humanity. I live in a large city way down at the bottom of the Bortle scale, in the center of one of those whited-out you-can't-see-a-thing patches on the light pollution maps. From time to time I'm lucky enough to get away to a little cabin in the woods with impeccable dark skies, but the rest of the time I have to make do with viewing from the parking lot next to my apartment building.

That said - and the article mentions this, but it's worth reiterating - a surprising amount of the sky becomes accessible again for those of us with even basic digital SLRs (and even some of the more fully-featured point-and-shoots). Last January, the nominally-naked-eye comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) was in the sky near the Pleiades. No hope of seeing it with my own eyes, but it was an easy target for just about any lens in my camera bag. It's trivial to capture stars down below ninth magnitude There's a little bit of - a different sort of - magic to being able to pull so much of the night sky out of the muck.

I could probably do some moderately impressive things with binoculars, too, but I'm a bit concerned about what the neighbors would think.

Incidentally, the suggested camera settings provided in the CBC article (ISO 1600, 30 second exposure) may be a bit aggressive for very bright city skies, and will definitely show at least some star trailing. Don't be afraid to play around. My skies start to get too bright if I go beyond ISO 800, f/3.5, 5 s or equivalent. And a five-second exposure is close to the limit if you want to avoid perceptible star trails at a medium-wide focal length.

Comment Re:Near-parabolic? (Score 3, Funny) 26

What the hell does that mean?

If it's parabolic but really really long, "near-hyperbolic" would be a reasonable description -- that's not out of the ordinary for comets.

Presumably it means that its orbit is closed - elliptical - but is only very loosely gravitationally bound--perhaps even more so that most comets. In other words, its velocity is only just shy of escape velocity, hence near-parabolic. Yes, mathematically speaking, that means that its orbit must also be near-hyperbolic; an infinitesimal increase in velocity converts a parabolic path into a hyperbolic one (and an infinitesimal decrease in velocity converts a parabolic path into a long-period ellipse).

Comment I think its not a savvy play, but (Score 2) 386

To get any good out of that much electrical power, you'd need a huge market to sell it to.

Europe wouldn't be it - too far away, across the Mediterranean. The rest of Africa? Maybe once the political landscape settles down. No bets on that one, though.

All of non-Scandinavian Europe is within 1500 miles of the Sahara. About 200 million Africans live farther away from the Sahara than that.

And 1500 miles isn't that far. For one thing, we've got plenty of under sea cables spanning distances on the order of the width of the Mediteranean, be it the ~10 miles near Gibraltar or the ~100 miles from Tunisia to Sicily, or even the ~350 miles from Egypt to Turkey. For example, NorNed is a 360 mile undersea cable between Norway and the Netherlands. Of course, there will need to be some firming of transmission infrastructure in Europe if you're dropping that much power at one (or even multiple) locations, but the problem isn't one of distance.

The problems are cost, energy security, and reliability. There are still plenty of low-enough cost locations throughout Europe for Europeans to spend that much money in Northern Africa and be encumbered with the reduction in energy security and reliability. As for Africans south of the Sahara, it's really the same story. The additional production per watt of panel in the Sahara isn't enough to overcome the transmission requirements -- cost, security, and and reliability.

Comment Probably not. (Score 2) 386

At least not yet.

The cost of transmission would be significant. The cost of construction would be non-trivial (get the panels form a nearby port to the site, get enough labor locally, supply chain all of their needs, etc). The reliability risk of putting so many eggs in one basket (both at the site and the transmission across the Mediterranean). And, concentrating the solar in one place results in unnecessarily diurnal production.

Instead, put some panels in the Sahara, sure. But before that, keep putting panels in low-cost locations nearer to load. Rooftops. Sites containing waste (capped landfills, etc) or otherwise economically non-productive and ecologically not interesting. Roadsides. The installation cost per kW will be higher, because of a lack of economies of scale, higher labor cost, and additional equipment necessary. But, you get the value of saving on transmission and distribution construction costs and line losses, the smoothing and stretching of production due to geographic diversity, and both the energy security and the economic boost of doing work in your own country,

Comment Storage is part of an efficient gas network (Score 1) 292

The stockpiling is storage for peak.

Natural gas use is seasonal. Depending on climate and electric generators, the peak is either during very cold weather (gas space heating) or very hot weather (high air conditioning load and gas-fired electric generation).

In either case, building large pipelines to supply the gas over a long distance so that they are large enough to meet peak demand means that those pipes are rather empty most days. That's very inefficient from a cost perspective. Instead, the long distance pipelines are medium sized -- slightly bigger than load requires on most days. During the off-season the rest of that pipeline space is used to deliver gas to the storage units. During the peak, the gas is emptied from storage right on the distribution grid, because the long distance pipelines aren't big enough to get all the needed gas to the load.

This, of course, is an overly simplistic explanation, but presents the big idea.

Comment Re:"Supposedly"?! (Score 4, Informative) 151

No it's not. Weight energy and volumic energy are two different things. The article does not say which is which.

It's a good thing that the summary (didn't even have to click through to the article) indicates that it's using volumetric energy density for both:

"Sony is developing a new type of battery chemistry that can boost runtimes by 40 percent compared to lithium-ion batteries of the same volume. Sony's batteries use a sulfur compound instead of lithium compounds for the positive electrodes, reportedly allowing for much great energy density. Sulfur batteries can also supposedly be made 30 percent smaller than traditional lithium-ion cells while maintaining the same run times."

Weight - and therefore energy density per unit mass - isn't mentioned or implied.

The grandparent's observation is spot on--the summary is indeed saying exactly the same thing in two different ways. If you can have the same runtime in 30% less volume, you can always get 40% more runtime with the original-sized package. To within a trivial rounding error, 140% and 70% are reciprocals; they're just saying "40% improvement in volumetric energy density".

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