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Comment: Quantum efficiency is not energy conversion (Score 1) 179

by Geoffrey.landis (#48474097) Attached to: Jackie Chan Discs Help Boost Solar Panel Efficiency

So, then, where can I purchase one of your 90% or better efficiency solar cells?

Quantum efficiency is not the same as energy conversion efficiency. A solar cell with 90% quantum efficiency isn't too hard to find. It's not going to have 90% energy conversion efficiency.

https://www.google.com/search?...

Comment: TERRIBLE efficiency (Score 1) 179

by Geoffrey.landis (#48471057) Attached to: Jackie Chan Discs Help Boost Solar Panel Efficiency

The latter - but that's still a nice jump in the solar cell world.

No, that's a terrible quantum efficiency in the solar cell world.

Quantum efficiency is electrons out per photon in. In the wavelength band over which a solar cell absorbs, the quantum efficiency of a good solar cell ought to be very close to 100%. Even a mediocre solar cell should be 90% or better.

40%??? That's nothing to brag about.

Comment: A step too far [Re:Wait what?] (Score 2) 171

It's a tricky case. Basically, the doctrine says that a fugitive can't say "I'm not subject to this court" (by fleeing justice) and simultaneously use the court to his advantage, in different aspects of the same matter.
I am not a lawyer (IANL), but as far as I can see, this case is very similar to Degen v. United States (1996). In that case, the Supreme Court explicitly said that the government was not justified in using the doctrine of fugitive disentitlement to dismiss a challenge of forfeiture.
Reference and discussion: http://scholarlycommons.law.no...

The summary of that case (from http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990... ):
"Principles of deference to the other branches of government require a court to invoke its inherent power only as a reasonable response to the problems and needs that provoke it. No sufficient reason justifies disentitlement here. Since the court's jurisdiction over the property is secure despite Degen's absence, there is no risk of delay or frustration in determining the merits of the government's forfeiture claims or in enforcing the resulting judgment. Also, the court has alternatives, other than disentitlement, to keep Degen from using liberal civil discovery rules to gain an improper advantage in the criminal prosecution, where discovery is more limited. Finally, disentitlement is an excessive response to the court's interests in redressing the indignity visited upon it by Degen's absence from the criminal proceeding, and in deterring flight from criminal prosecution in general; it is a response that erodes rather than enhances the dignity of the court."

Comment: Buzz words instead of thinking (Score 2) 219

by Geoffrey.landis (#48426459) Attached to: Lessons Learned From Google's Green Energy Bust

dunkelfalke (91624) writes:

I have seen - predominantly on Slashdot, obviously, but also elsewhere, a sort of naive technocrats (who are often also libertarians) believing that as soon as some technology is needed, the invisible hand of the market magically creates this technology so one only has to sit and wait for this magic solution to appear out of thin air. The more down-to-earth kind of these people even tried to explain this magic by telling that this process happens by throwing enough money at a problem.

--and Anonymous Coward responds

I have seen - predominantly on Slashdot, obviously, but also elsewhere, a sort of naive technocrats (who are often also liberals or progressives or socialists) believing that as soon as some technology is needed, the state magically creates this technology so one only has to sit and wait for this magic solution to appear out of thin air. The more down-to-earth kind of these people even tried to explain this magic by telling that this process happens by throwing enough money at a problem.

OK, somebody should moderate both of these as "troll".

There is some insight here, but the insight is completely washed out by the gratuitous insults and use of deliberately slanted vocabulary.

In fact, the market is good at solving some types of problems. And government is good at solving some of the types of problems that the market isn't good at. But people of all political views always call approaches that don't fit their ideology "throwing money at the problem." If it's a solution that fits your politics, it's "investing in technology," and if it's a solution that doesn't fit your politics, it suddenly "throwing money at the problem." Same thing, different choice of spin.

But randomly insulting political positions for the joy of insults, and substituting buzz words for thinking, really does not substitute for actual analysis.

Comment: Peak [Re:Yet] (Score 3, Interesting) 219

by Geoffrey.landis (#48426229) Attached to: Lessons Learned From Google's Green Energy Bust

Solar cell costs are plunging, while their efficiencies rise. I predict a collision, a market and a profit.

You might see one, if you could just plug solar cells into your house and magically get power all day. Most of our power usage in our house is at night, when... oops... there's no solar power.

No, actually, in America the highest electrical usage is in the afternoon. It's driven by air conditioning loads in summer, along with the fact that business and industry tends to use the most power only during working hours. There's a slight bump at about 7, but it's not as big as the afternoon peak.

Quick calculations suggest that you can replace about 10% of US electrical usage with solar with no disruption at all, and something like 20 to 30 percent with only minimal disruption.

That's not enough to solve the energy problem. But, with the electricity market in the US at something like half a trillion dollars a year, that's a substantial market (and substantial profit)

Comment: Uber privacy (Score 1) 169

by Geoffrey.landis (#48417337) Attached to: City of Toronto Files Court Injunction Against Uber

On the subject of Uber, anybody else look at Uber's new privacy policy, and think it's a bit skanky?

http://www.buzzfeed.com/johana...

--What a carefully crafted weasel-worded policy. It says that Uber retains the right to violate your privacy for "legitimate business purposes"-- but doesn't define any limits on what they're going to call "legitimate." They list some "examples", which sounds soothing-- but these are just SOME of the reasons they might violate your privacy-- not ALL the reasons. Frankly, this policy states that they can violate your privacy any time they want, just as long as they say there is a business purpose to doing so.

Oh, and they don't have to tell you, either.

Comment: Fourth Largest city, Eighth Biggest Metro area (Score 3, Informative) 169

by Geoffrey.landis (#48417303) Attached to: City of Toronto Files Court Injunction Against Uber

Actually, according to our good friend wikipedia, Toronto is still 8th by metre area population in NA.

It makes a difference whether you are asking about the population of the city, or the population of the metro area, the city plus surrounding areas that are not in the same political unit.

Cities: Toronto is fourth largest: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
Metropolitan Areas: Toronto is eighth largest: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
Urban Agglomertions: Toronto is number five: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

So I rate the original claim,

Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America

, as True.

Comment: Higgs [Re:Independent confirmation] (Score 1) 137

by Geoffrey.landis (#48349275) Attached to: CERN May Not Have Discovered Higgs Boson After All

Physical theories are confirmed by evidence, and well confirmed by large amounts of of evidence... but confirmation is not exactly the same as proof

Who's replicated the Higgs?

The Higgs discovery was done by two groups, working independently and doing different experiments, although using the same accelerator, so that's a good start.

I would not call the Higgs discovery well confirmed, though; not yet. You definitely want to keep on doing experiments to nail this one down more confidently.

Comment: Confirmation, not proof [Re:Problem with induc...] (Score 4, Informative) 137

by Geoffrey.landis (#48345881) Attached to: CERN May Not Have Discovered Higgs Boson After All

I doubt many scientists believe that you can prove any scientific theory true.

In general, this is correct: you can prove a scientific theory false, but never prove it true. (You can prove mathematical theories true. But mathematical theories require assumptions, called postulates. To prove that a mathematical theory is true in the real world, you would need to find a way to prove the postulates true.)

Physical theories are confirmed by evidence, and well confirmed by large amounts of of evidence... but confirmation is not exactly the same as proof

Comment: Predicting, not discovering (Score 4, Informative) 137

by Geoffrey.landis (#48345851) Attached to: CERN May Not Have Discovered Higgs Boson After All

The summary was wrong: Physicists Peter Higgs and Francois Englert did not win the Nobel Prize for discovering the Higgs Boson. They (along with some others) predicted it, but didn't discover it. (More accurately, they won the Nobel for elucidating the Higgs mechanism of symmetry breaking as a means for massless particles to acquire mass).
This was a deduction (deducing that a particular field would lead to symmetry breaking with particular properties, from the mathematics of field theories), not an induction (fitting a model to theories).

Comment: Mostly about using paraffin wax as a hybrid fuel (Score 1) 2

Well, this is mostly an article about using paraffin wax instead of polymers as the fuel for hybrid rocket engines; it's only in passing talking about SpaceShipTwo. It's a little misleading to highlight "SpaceShipTwo" in the headline.
But it's an interesting article. I do like the wax propellant; it's a useful approach toward increasing the thrust of hybrids.
As I've been fond of saying, the good news is that hybrid rocket engines combine the best features of solid engines and liquid engines. The bad news is that hybrid rocket engines also combine the worst features of solid engines and liquid engines.

Comment: Re:Objection to objective (Score 1) 739

by Geoffrey.landis (#48282641) Attached to: Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare

No, I just said consider the source when reading the numbers. If you blindly accept them, fine with me.

That would be wise... except you apparently didn't consider the source; you just were looking for an excuse to say "I don't believe these numbers". Did you even read the source material? The source was an organization with the explicit objective "to find the uninsured around the country and persuade them to sign up for health insurance." Quoting from the article: "the groups have little incentive for bias because skewed numbers would complicate efforts to find the uninsured and target outreach resources."

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