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Comment: Re:I wish we didn't need something like this (Score 1) 595

by aquabat (#47752469) Attached to: New Nail Polish Alerts Wearers To Date Rape Drugs
Ok, fair enough. Definitely a social issue. I think part of the problem is that we overestimate the extent of what we think of as our community. I've lived in small towns, where everyone knew everyone else, and there was always a sense of trust and connection within the community. You could go to a bar and have a beer with your friends without ever thinking that someone would do (in your group, or to your group) something nefarious. At the very least, everyone knew who the bad apples were. In big cities, people can be more isolated (often, people don't even talk to their neighbours), but we still behave like we're in a connected community. When we go out to a club, we extend that same trust to those around us, even though they are an unknown in the social equation.

The social issue I see here is that there's no consensus that we're all the same tribe, and therefore should have each other's back. There are people who see others as competition at best, and prey at worst. For them, a club is not an opportunity to make social connections and strengthen the tribe; it's a feeding ground. I guess one could also turn it around and see it from the other angle. There are people who see a predator in everyone, even when it's not the case. Either way, we're losing something valuable by inhibiting the development of these kinds of social bonds.

Comment: Re:Sillier and sillier (Score 2) 61

by aquabat (#47707727) Attached to: Modular Hive Homes Win Mars Base Design Competition

Man can't even manage planet Earth. Let alone Mars. It has no business there until it shapes up over here. Meanwhile, robots can do anything there, and elsewhere, and do it more effectively.

With respect to not having any business there, I respectfully disagree. I think something like this is just what we need to get our shit together. We've been getting away with lots of unsustainable practices here on Earth, because our ecosystem is big enough to absorb the damage so far. The problem with this is that the consequences are too far away in time or place for us to care. Boiling the frog, and all that.

Mars, on the other hand, is a pretty unforgiving place. If we can't be self sustaining in a small closed environment such as a habitat for a few dozen people, we'll know pretty quickly. A successful setup on Mars should breed a conservationist mentality in Martians that can be applied back on Earth.

Comment: good ideas (Score 3, Interesting) 61

by aquabat (#47707665) Attached to: Modular Hive Homes Win Mars Base Design Competition
I would lose the Uranium shielding, and just bury the thing instead. We need to use as much local material for construction as possible. As someone else mentioned above, nobody wants to pay to keep a colony going, so once we're there, it's probably a good idea to live as though we're on our own for good. If we want to sustain and expand our colony past the initial setup, we need to do it without Earth sending us stuff regularly. So, houses we can make out of Mars. That being said, I would make a couple of exceptions. First, I would ship some kind of self contained power source, like maybe a modular Thorium reactor, or something like that. Doing big construction projects is power intensive, and solar might not cut it. The second thing I would take would be fabrication tools for any supplies that can't be 3D printed, I guess. I mean, eventually, stuff is going to wear out, and Mars doesn't seem to have much in the way of tradable resources, so we're going to have to make our own stuff. By "stuff we'll have to make ourselves", I'm thinking space suits and mining/refining equipment.
United Kingdom

Scientists Have Developed a Material So Dark That You Can't See It 238

Posted by samzenpus
from the none-more-black dept.
gbjbaanb writes A British company is developing a new material that's so black it absorbs all but 0.035 percent of the visual light, making it the darkest material ever created. Of course, apart from making album covers, it conducts heat 7 times better than copper and is 10 times stronger than steel. "The nanotube material, named Vantablack, has been grown on sheets of aluminium foil by the Newhaven-based company. While the sheets may be crumpled into miniature hills and valleys, this landscape disappears on areas covered by it. 'You expect to see the hills and all you can see it's like black, like a hole, like there's nothing there. It just looks so strange,' said Ben Jensen, the firm's chief technical officer.

Comment: Re: WUWT (Score 1) 441

by aquabat (#47355669) Attached to: Researchers Claim Wind Turbine Energy Payback In Less Than a Year
Yeah, it's pretty cool. I used to be all fanatical about that stuff back in the 90s. The idea with the thermal mass is that the sun comes in through the windows and heats up the walls, and then, at night, the walls radiate the heat back into the house. It's like a thermal storage battery. If you want it cooler, you draw the curtains and open the roof vent. You have buried air pipes at floor level that go outside, so the hot air escaping from the roof vent draws in cool air via the floor vents, with the earth around the pipe also cooling the intake air. Works really well in desert environments, where the days are hot, and the nights are cold, but I've read about people building them in places like northern Ontario too, where the winters are -40C. The biggest issue with the winter climate ones actually seems to be too much solar gain, instead of not enough, and also controlling the humidity. If you're hard core about living off the grid, it's viable, and as a bonus, your house will look like something out of a '70s scifi flick.

Comment: Re: WUWT (Score 1) 441

by aquabat (#47349753) Attached to: Researchers Claim Wind Turbine Energy Payback In Less Than a Year
You might want to check out "earthships". Basically, rammed earth construction utilizing the thermal mass of the ground to moderate the house temperature, lots of sun-facing windows for solar gain in winter, and chimney-style ventilation to draw in cool air from the ground-level and expel hot air at the top.

This is now. Later is later.