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Comment: Light but reactive element = high energy density (Score 1) 51

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47718377) Attached to: How Argonne National Lab Will Make Electric Cars Cheaper

"lithium is in the upper left-hand corner of the periodic table. Only hydrogen and helium are lighter on an atomic basis."

  I'm wondering if this is a non sequitur for electric batteries.

Not a non sequitur at all.

An important factor for batteries is energy density: How much energy is stored per unit mass. This is particularly important for electric cars: The higher the energy density, the less mass you havce to haul around for a given amount of "fuel", which means the less "fuel" is spent hauling your "fuel" around, so it's a more-than-linear improvement.

Lithium is both extremely light and a very reactive nonmetal. So you're talking about a lot of energy per unit mass for the lithium-based electrode's contribution to the reaction.

Comment: And I want... (Score 1) 405

by prisoner-of-enigma (#47714829) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'

And I want a week long orgy with the Victoria's Secret supermodels, but I'm intelligent to know the likelihood of that happening is pretty damned small. Linus should be exhorbitantly happy Linux has made the inroads it has in the server and mobile markets. Desktop, if it ever does follow, will probably not resemble "desktop" as we now know it.

Comment: Re:Who needs oil? (Score 1) 279

by prisoner-of-enigma (#47707929) Attached to: If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly

Fusion would break the stranglehold of petro-exporting countries in the Middle East as well as belligerent exporters like Russia and Iran.

You're assuming said fusion plants would be radically cheaper to construct and operate than existing fission plants...something the anti-nuclear activists would probably complicate despite the obvious benefits of fusion over fission. Never underestimate the public fear of the word "nuclear" even if the processes involved are ridiculously different.

I can hear the rallying cry now: "They want to build a plant that works the same way as a thermonuclear bomb! Do you want a nuclear bomb IN YOUR BACKYARD???"

People are still terrified of fluoride in their water. Can you imagine their reponse to the above?

Comment: The power of the future... (Score 2) 279

by prisoner-of-enigma (#47707879) Attached to: If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly

Fusion power is roughly 20 years away from being viable...and has been for the last 40 years LOL.

Seriously, I'll start worrying about proliferation risks when a commercially viable fusion reactor DESIGN is created. Building one -- assuming it's ever viable to begin with -- would take years, which is plenty of time to address proliferation concerns before it came online.

Comment: Re:12% of the population is Muslim (Score 1) 358

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47698599) Attached to: Ebola Quarantine Center In Liberia Looted

Well, they cannot become martyrs by just dropping dead. At least they have to kill some unbelievers as well...

Actualy, they CAN become martyrs by dropping dead - after deliberately NOT leaving the area of a plague and thus avoiding the spreading it, at the cost of their own lives.

Martyrdom doen't just come from being killed in a religious war.

Another way to become a martyr, for instance, is to die in childbirth.

Yet another is to die while defending your home and/or family from robbers or other attackers (as my wife pointed out to a crook who was trying to extort "taxes" for a local gang.)

Comment: Early reports indicate they may have had reasons. (Score 2) 358

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47698539) Attached to: Ebola Quarantine Center In Liberia Looted

According to a report I saw (following a link from the Drudge Report yesterday):

1)The early symptoms of Ebola are very similar to those of Malaria, to the point that people with malaria are being thrown into the ebola quarantine camps. (Also: Many of the people who HAVE ebola, or their support network, may THINK thay have malaria.)
2) The camp ran out of gloves and other protective gear - leaving the staff and patients unable to clean up after and avoid contagin from the body fluid spillages of the actual ebola patients. Come in with SUSPECTED ebola and you soon have ebola for sure.

That, alone, would make it rational for someone not yet sick or mildly sick, incarcerated in the camp, to break out and hide out.

3) Stories are circulating in the area that ebola is a myth and the oppressive government factions/first worlders/take your pick of enemies are using this story, plus the odd malaria case here and there, to create death camps and commit genocide in a way that gives them plausible deniability.

That idea, of course, can lead to mass action by some of the local population to "rescue" their fellows and sabotage the camps.

The whole think is a real-world example of the cautionary tale "The Boy who Cried 'Wolf'". When the officials lie to the people for their own benefit, repeatedly, until the people come to expect it, the people won't believe them when they are telling the truth about a real threat - and all suffer.

Comment: Re:Truly sad (Score 1) 358

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47698411) Attached to: Ebola Quarantine Center In Liberia Looted

Ebola is one mutation away from being airborne transmissable. It already happened with Ebola Reston -- fortunately for us all, that turned out to be transmissable to monkeys but not humans.

I've heard reports that it may have happened with this one, too.

It doesn't have to be as GOOD at doing airborne transmission as, say, the common cold, to be a BIG problem.

Comment: Some can be done - and is. Most is bull. (Score 1) 435

by Ungrounded Lightning (#47690447) Attached to: Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

Like file downloads vs. interactive sessions, some power loads just need a long-term average and can be adjusted in time, without noticable impact, to shave peaks and get a closer match to generation - even if some of the generation, itself, is uncontrollably varying.

In fact, this is already being done. A prime example is in California, where a large part of the load is pumping of irrigation and drinking water. California utilities get away with far less "peaking generation" than they'd otherwise need by pumping the water mostly at off-peak hours. Cost: Bigger pumps, waterways (and in some cases "forebay" buffer reservoirs, below the main reservoir) than would be needed if the water were pumped continuously. This is practical because it was cheaper to upsize the water system than build and run the extra peaking plants. (Also: The forebay-to-reservoir pump generates when water is drawn down. It can also be run as a peaking generator, moving reserevoir water down to the forebay during peak load hours.) Similar things can be (and are being) done with industrial processes - such as aluminum smelters.

But there's a limit to load flexibility. Sure you can delay starting your refrigerator, freezer, and air conditioning for a few minutes (or start a little early, opportunistically), to twiddle the load. But you can't use such tweaks to adjust for an hours-long mismatch, such as the evening peak, or an incoming warm front leading to calm air and overcast skies on a chunk-of-the-continent basis. Try it, and your food spoils and your air conditioner (or heat-pump heating system) might as well be broken, or too small for your living area. Sure you can tweak factory load some. But do it too much and you reduce the production of billion-dollar factory complexes and workers who are still getting paid full rate.

Renewable energy actually helps - because its large-scale variations are driven by some of the same phenomena that affect heating and air conditioning loads. More wind means more heating and air conditioning load due to more heat transfer through building insulation. More sun means more air conditioning. Solar peaks in the day and wind in the evening (due to winds driven by the "lake effect" on a subcontinental scale), so a mix of them is a good match for the daily peak. But it's nowhere near "tweak to match generation and load without waste".

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming