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Comment Re:Obama should do a fact check... (Score 1) 322

> First, we aren't feeling the impact of climate change. For all the fear mongering, the oceans haven't risen,

They have. http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/f...

> the weather is fine,

It's not. http://www.forbes.com/sites/je...

> and life has been carrying on.

'Struggling' would be a better word: http://news.stanford.edu/news/...

And we are just seeing the beginning of these problems. The predictions of the IPCC are actually quite conservative. The reality is likely to be much worse. This isn't fear-mongering; I'm not talking about fire and brimstone and mass anarchy. Humans can adapt. But we will have to deal with mass migrations, destruction of large areas of crop land, and a potentially very harmful loss of biodiversity. These are facts which we can state with certainty; the only uncertainty is just how deep the wound will eventually go before we actually do something about it.

Comment Re:Oh boy, here we go... (Score 2) 322

The reason no one's talking about thorium is that, frankly, thorium sucks. Sorry to break it to you this way. Thorium solves none of the problems we have with current fission reactors. Nuclear reactors are clean but extremely expensive sources of energy. They are expensive because of containment, maintenance, waste disposal/processing, and decommissioning. Thorium solves none of these problems. The much-touted "less waste!" point that LFTR advocates so often talk about is a distortion of truth; LFTR merely brings the waste reprocessing plant into the reactor itself, making it even more expensive.

No one has ever given a realistic cost estimate for LFTR. The reason is that any realistic cost estimate would most likely be EXTREMELY AND HORRENDOUSLY EXPENSIVE. I wouldn't be surprised if a 1 GW LFTR cost $10 bn or more to build. This is after initial R&D costs, btw, and assuming a large number of plants with amortized costs.

Comment Re:Oh boy, here we go... (Score 3, Insightful) 322

Actually the coal towns are the ones bearing the brunt of the coal industry's wrath. After all the coal is extracted, nothing is left but huge dumps with virtually no employment to speak of. Same with the fracking boom. It's just that they lack the vision to see this while the money is still flowing.

Comment Re:Oh boy, here we go... (Score 1) 322

What's sad is that both sides miss the point. The current plan outlined by Obama is weak and pathetic and sad. It's mostly 'changes' that would have happened due to economics anyway (the USA is already moving away from coal) and, even if the plan is implemented fully (which it won't be, and you know why) it is only going to achieve a fraction of what's necessary to combat climate change in the near future.

Comment Re:Here's a thought... (Score 2) 318

When I was a teen in the late 90's and early 2000's I was a member on a number of forums and I had a pretty thorough presence on the 'social media' sites of the time. Yet I don't think I ever wrote something of significant embarrassing consequence to me now. I don't think it was because I was particularly mature (I wasn't, actually it was the opposite) but instead I think the nature of social media changed. Back then you would mostly be talking with a small group of like-minded friends. Anything dumb that you wrote would never have been known by a large number of people. Nowadays twitter and facebook and youtube make it possible for 14 year olds to have thousands of followers. A premature brain should not have that kind of exposure. Of course bad stuff is going to happen.

I don't know how to change this. Maybe restrict the access of teenagers to mass social media, or put educational programs in schools that inform kids of the dangers.

Comment Re:Blimey (Score 1) 516

Ignorant. The law of conservation of momentum is a law that can be precisely formulated in mathematical terms and ever since it was, no violation of it has ever been observed. Not even a little. Further, it has deep theoretical underpinnings that would mean a universe that violates it would look very very strange indeed and probably nothing like our Universe. By comparing it with the theory of epicycles you're simply showcasing your scientific ignorance and stupidity.

Comment Re: Blimey (Score 1) 516

It's not impossible that the theory is wrong. It's just so remotely improbable that even considering it as a possibility is almost certainly a waste of time. Why are some people so eager to throw out established science, when it's far, far, FAR more likely that it's an experimental error or miscalculation?

We saw this with the bogus and unnecessary 'explanations' for the pioneer anomaly, the FTL neutrinos, and the e-cat device. There is no shortage of contempt for science, it seems.

Comment Re: Looking more and more likely all the time... (Score 2, Informative) 516

> The science behind it is openly shared without any secret sauce claims.

There is no 'science behind it'. At best there's some experimental data which is probably measurement error or a mundane effect that isn't being considered.

> the science is genuinely sound.

Actually, the claim of "thrust without reaction mass" is not only unsound, it's so far off the scientific deep end that it boggles the mind. You may not need to carry any propellant for this engine to work, but you sure as heck need to carry tons of LSD to keep it working.

> It's not even the only known way to get thrust without fuel - solar sails do that too.

Solar sails use reaction mass. They just don't store it on board.

> Engineering scams are nothing new but this breaks every pattern

It doesn't fit the pattern of 'scam', true. It does, though, fit the pattern of 'hopeless optimism getting in the way of actual science.'

Comment Re:Blimey (Score 2) 516

ANY non-zero amount of thrust requires reaction mass, even if the amount of thrust is 'negligible'. Sometimes the reaction mass is stored externally (e.g. light sails), sometimes it's a planet (orbital magnetic thrusters) but it's always there.

Either no thrust is being produced or there is reaction mass. You just have to find out what it is. If the reaction mass is not sufficient to explain the thrust, then it's bunk. Plain and simple.

Comment Re:Uhmmmm (Score 1) 619

The ballpoint pen is actually a fairly recent invention. Ballpoint pens of similar quality and reliability of what we use today weren't really available before WWII. It's slightly tricky to come up with balls of good fit and ink that won't clog up the ball's rolling.

Fountain pens date back a few centuries, and various types of quill and bamboo pen are older still.

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