Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:I have said it before (Score 2) 94

by Rei (#49187531) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles

All of Areva's renewables investments combined are less than 10% of their business. And they're performing far better than their core nuclear business. I find it amazing that you argue that they shouldn't have invested in the few projects they're involved in that are actually paying off.

Comment: banks again ? (Score 1) 96

by Tom (#49187501) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles

The only way you can have losses that exceed your net-worth is if someone has given you a huge amount of money that they really shouldn't. Typically, it means the banks gave these guys credit beyond even the most loose definition of sanity.

More and more I'm thinking that the fantasy worlds we live in when we play roleplaying or computer games are much closer to reality than the fantasy world of the financial industry.

Comment: Re:Same guy? (Score 1) 117

by ScentCone (#49187335) Attached to: The Mexican Drug Cartels' Involuntary IT Guy

The legal issue is the fact that she was using a personal email to evade record keeping requirements. That much would be obvious to someone by the fact she was using a personal email address.

But what couldn't be obvious to everyone else was that despite perhaps being in an e-mail swap with her and assuming whatever they might about that, she didn't even have (and thus use, even for forwarding/mirroring) an official government mailbox to use as the legally required dumping ground. A reasonable person might assume that she was keeping up with the 2009 regulation to store her correspondence on a government system by more indirect means - but she was carefully avoiding compliance with that reg.

Comment: Re:I have said it before (Score 1) 94

by Rei (#49187333) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles

It's not just neutron bombardment either. Your fuel is producing almost every element in the periodic table, anisotropically and varying across time. It's pretty much the worst situation one could come up with from a containment standpoint inside the fuel even before you factor in neutron bombardment.

Then there's the nature of nuclear disasters: they're disasters in slow motion. The upside is that few people usually die from them because there's usually plenty of time to get away. The downside is that they take bloody forever and a king's ransom to clean up, where it's even possible. Picture, for example, an accident at Indian Point that would increase NYC residents' rate of cancer over the next 10 years by two to three orders of magnitude. You could evacuate over days to weeks and it'd have little impact on public health. But you'd be having to pay for the loss and cleanup of New York City. That is, of course, an extreme case, but it's an illustration of the financial challenge faced by an industry that deals with large amounts of chemicals that are incredibly toxic even in the minutest quantities. Screwups can turn out to be REALLY BIG screwups.

Comment: Re:conditions found in space (Score 1) 61

by Rei (#49187299) Attached to: NASA Ames Reproduces the Building Blocks of Life In Laboratory

Judging from our sample size of one on what sort of conditions life can thrive in, and a couple datapoints on where it doesn't seem to, I think we haven't the foggiest of clues where we're actually likely to find life. There seems to be this presumption among many that "where we find liquid water we should find life, and where we don't find liquid water we shouldn't". I think that's totally logically indefensible. We have no bloody clue whether water-based life is a common or rare occurrence, nor whether non-water-based life is a common or rare occurrence. We have way, way to little data to be drawing these kind of conclusions.

Comment: Re:Sorry, but... (Score 1) 61

by Rei (#49187285) Attached to: NASA Ames Reproduces the Building Blocks of Life In Laboratory

Life can be defined empirically and that's a good enough of a description. The problem is people debating over what that definition should be. The problem with gravity is not describing it, but figuring out why it exists as it does. They're very different situations.

Most people agree on the basics of life - something that can self replicate and evolve - but it's the details that pose the thorny issues. For example, how particular is it about its environment? Viruses leave most of the work of their reproduction to outside sources, so there are many people who don't want to call them life. But there's a continuous slope between that and something that can survive on nothing more than sunlight, water, CO2 and trace minerals; you don't say that a cat isn't alive because it can't make taurine and has to rely on external entities to do so, for example. And at an even more basic level, how picky must one be about what constitutes "replication"? What if you have imperfect replicators that create entities "similar" to themselves, which may have varying degrees (perhaps frequently "zero") of ability to replicate themselves? Certainly such a thing has the potential to at least lead to life. But is it life? If not then what's the cutoff point in terms of replicative accuracy when you start to call it life and the inaccuracies in its reproduction "evolution"?

Comment: Re:Space (Score 2) 61

by Rei (#49187263) Attached to: NASA Ames Reproduces the Building Blocks of Life In Laboratory

I don't think this is at all special. There have been tons of space-matter-abiogenesis experiments that have been done, with similar results. For example, it's been shown that Titan's atmosphere can produce at least 16 amino acids and all five nucleotide bases, and we've already detected organic molecules over 10000 daltons there.

Nature likes to produce rather complex mixtures of organic chemicals without any help from life, nobody should doubt this any more, there's been way too much evidence that it happens. Nature is more than happy to continously rain down vast amounts of varied, complex organics given the right situation, providing both potential organic catalysts to develop into early life and "food" that they can scavenge. The question that needs to be answered next is, from a random diverse mix of organics, how does a hypercycle get started, wherein some chemicals / mixtures of chemicals / families of chemicals begin to encourage the creation of more chemicals "like" them, increasing the odds that there will be more produced of whatever is needed to keep the cycle going. Once you get to that point, you have the potential for evolution to take hold - first by a simple race to produce the most exact copies of the most efficiently-catalyzing chemicals and the poisoning of competing chemicals, up to the development of membranes to provide defense/hoarde resources/survive adverse situations/etc (the first "ur-cells").

Comment: Re:I have said it before (Score 4, Insightful) 94

by Rei (#49187113) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles

Right. Having the government cover all of your major liabilities, getting to write off massive debts, pass all of your cost overruns onto local consumers without them having a say in the manner, and so on, that's all "paying their own way", right? In nuclear power, the gains have always been privatized while the costs and risks socialized. And it's *still* been very difficult to find investors. Nuclear has always been more popular on K-Street than Wall Street.

Here's a paper going into the various massive ways nuclear has been subsidies. And they still can't bloody manage to stay afloat. It's one of the few industries with a negative growth curve - where technology gets more expensive with time, not cheaper.

Comment: such stupidity (Score 1) 352

by Tom (#49186655) Attached to: Microsoft Convinced That Windows 10 Will Be Its Smartphone Breakthrough

will run on [...] phones and provide an experience very much like the desktop. [...] repeatedly failed to take the mobile space [...]"

Yeah, I wonder if these two could be in any way related...

MS is a design and UI fiasco and always has been. The only reason few people realize how unusable the crap is, is that we are so used to it that we don't notice anymore - until the next major update, or if you don't use it daily and then suddenly sit in front of it and wonder who the fuck came up with this stupidity.

And everyone who knows anything at all about mobile devices and usability knows that nobody on the planet wants a windows desktop experience on their smartphone. People want a smartphone experience on their smartphone, what's so difficult to understand about that?

Oh, speaking of that: People also don't want a mobile experience on their desktop. They want a desktop experience on their desktop, that's not so difficult, either.

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: A firefly is not a fly, but a beetle.