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Comment: Re:What makes this a gigafactory? (Score 1) 94

> I suspect that the name is also a bit of an homage to Back to the Future, but given that Musk is of South African origin and didn't move to North America until three years after the movie came out, I'd like to hear it from the horse's mouth to be sure.

Back to the Future 1 did 45% of it's box office gross internationally ( ). I assume South Africa had movie theaters in 1985. Most reasonably developed countries did.

Comment: Re:Good luck (Score 2) 169

by DanielRavenNest (#47553733) Attached to: US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

Well, they can try, but it will be about as successful as controlling bitTorrent, or cannabis.

The proposed New York State regulations require the "issuer" of a virtual currency to get a license if they have users in the state. Who exactly in the bitcoin community would that be? Satoshi Nakamoto? Chinese mining farms? So I agree, good luck. At most some bitcoin-based businesses will just not deal with New York customers.

Comment: Re:Can we just recognize it as currency and be don (Score 2) 169

by DanielRavenNest (#47553675) Attached to: US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

I certainly hope not, because ultimately they're completely unlike other foreign or domestic currencies in that they have nothing backing their worth*.

Ask yourself what backs the value of UPS shipping labels, that people are willing to give substantial sums to obtain one? Intrinsically the label is just sticky paper with some printing on it. The answer is the UPS network of trucks and distribution terminals. They enable a package with a label on it to get from one place to another.

In a similar way, the Bitcoin network of p2p nodes, mining hardware, desktop apps, merchants accepting it, and user wallets enable moving money from one place to another. A bitcoin address with a non-zero balance is like a prepaid shipping label, ready to be used to transfer value to another address. But without the network, the transfers would be nearly impossible. The network makes bitcoin balances useful, and therefore have value.

In a money transfer system, the internal units don't have to have any particular value, as long as everyone agrees on their value at a given time. If I want to pay a Romanian programmer and buy X dollars worth of bitcoins, transmit them, and the programmer converts them to Leu locally, the value only needs to be stable during the time the transfer takes to be acceptable. The particular number of bitcoin units in between is immaterial, it is just an accounting unit.

People who hold bitcoin units for longer periods are speculating that demand for them will go up, or at least remain level. Since the number of units is relatively fixed (it is increasing at 11%/year currently, and will taper off to zero over time), demand will drive the exchange rate up or remain level. If you live in a country that is rapidly increasing the money supply, like Venezuela or the United States, a stable supply of an alternative good can be attractive. That store of value function is separate from the value transfer function.

Comment: Re:pfft, 3.5% overrun (Score 1) 132

by DanielRavenNest (#47538455) Attached to: SLS Project Coming Up $400 Million Short

Lockheed and Boeing also need to be completely removed from the process. They are making a mint milking DOD contracts, they don't need to be in middle of the civilian space program fleecing NASA and taxpayers there too. They do not use money wisely, they devour everything thrown their way and produce as little as possible in return.

I beg to differ, having worked on the Space Station program for Boeing. Pound for pound the station hardware costs the same to design as passenger airplanes of the same era. That is not surprising, because they are both aluminum structures full of mechanical and electrical components, designed by the same people, using the same methods and knowledge base. The big difference is when Boeing designs a passenger airplane, they typically make 1000 copies. We only made 1 copy of the Space Station hardware. So the entire design cost falls on that one copy.

The Falcon series rockets are cheaper partly because they use lots of repetitive parts. The Falcon 9 uses ten Merlin engines, nine in the first stage, and one in the second stage. The first and second stages use common tank diameters and bulkheads. The Falcon Heavy uses three copies of the first stage. So it is bound to be cheaper because you are not designing as many kg of unique hardware.

The SLS with a once-every-two-years launch rate barely has a production line, but yet you have to have massive tooling in the factory, a trained workforce who know all the jobs, etc. That is an expensive way to fly.

Comment: Re:Not actually accepting bitcoins. RTFA (Score 1) 152

by DanielRavenNest (#47490471) Attached to: Dell Starts Accepting Bitcoin

The two largest payment processors, Coinbase and BitPay, have about 65,000 merchants they accept bitcoin on behalf of and convert. The merchant gets local currency deposited to their accounts. There are an unknown number of places that take bitcoin directly, like our Seed Factory Project ( ).

You can spend bitcoin indirectly at many major merchants through Gyft ( ). Note the "shop with bitcoin" item in the top menu. Gyft sells you a gift card, which you then can use at the merchant. You get a 3% discount buying the card with bitcoin, which represents part of the credit card fees, fraud, and chargebacks which Gyft and the merchant get to avoid.

Comment: Aluminum foil (Score 2) 204

I use a couple of inch (5 cm) high ring of aluminum foil, shiny side in, around the burner. That reflects heat from the burner and the pot itself back onto the pot, and reduces convection losses by partly blocking air coming in around the edges. Obviously if you are using gas burners, you need enough air for the flame. A strip of foil is going to be way way cheaper than an $85 pot.

When choosing pots, pick one that is black, not shiny, or make it black by burning stuff on the outside. Black surfaces absorb heat better.

Comment: Re:Good. Let's go. (Score 2) 181

Near Earth asteroids contain up to 20% chemically bound water (in the form of hydrated minerals). They don't contain water as water, because at our distance from the Sun it is too hot for water to be retained in a vacuum. To get this water out of the minerals you heat them to typically 200-300C. So stuff the asteroid rock in a closed container, focus enough sunlight on it to reach the required temperature, then have a condenser on the shaded side to turn the vapor back into liquid.

Water has multiple uses in space as propellant, shielding, and for biology. When split to oxygen we can breathe it. Some asteroids also have a large amount of carbon, so you can reform Water + Carbon into Oxygen + Hydrocarbons, which makes an excellent high thrust fuel, but that would be a more advanced application. Simple extraction of water is about as hard as running a distillery for alcohol.

Comment: Re:Absurd (Score 1) 181

You don't want one miner to claim all of Ceres or Vesta (the two largest asteroids). What makes sense is to have a "claim size" based on your mining operation and safety. Thus you don't want the next door miner to be landing his ships too close, because the exhaust can kick up rocks or contaminate your equipment. You also don't want to grant a full size mining claim to someone who lands a 1 kg payload with an electric drill. The claim should scale with how much equipment they are landing and the mining rate.

Of course, what makes sense has nothing to do with what Congress might pass, only 1% of their membership have an engineering background.

Comment: Re:won't work (Score 1) 155

by DanielRavenNest (#47438101) Attached to: Amazon Seeks US Exemption To Test Delivery Drones

I think it would be the inverse. A rather sizable drone delivers to a local distribution point like a pizza place (who are already set up for local delivery). The last few miles are done by auto the conventional way. The Amazon warehouse near a given city has a fleet of drones, who can bypass local traffic. They could be larger and faster due to aerodynamics, and more able to carry navigation and collision avoidance equipment. One drone could even fly a route, with multiple drop off points.

If you coordinate the deliveries with smartphones, you could even have it delivered while you eat lunch, or at home along with your pizza.

Overload -- core meltdown sequence initiated.