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Comment: Africanized swans: (Score 3, Funny) 403

by Hartree (#48246315) Attached to: Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

Nasty. Swans are already mean as all get out and now you want to genetically engineer them with African bee dna, so they behave like killer bees.

Black swan: Cygnus atratus
Africanized honey bee: Apis mellifera adansonii

Africanized Black Swan: Cygnus atratus adansonii (variety: Winged Death).

Attacks in flocks of thousands and chases you for miles. Almost as bad as sharks with lasers, but can fly and travel on land. Doctor Evil would be proud.

Comment: Re:Hate Nixon (Score 1) 125

by Hartree (#48106707) Attached to: How President Nixon Saved/Wrecked the American Space Program

That was in the 68 campaign (i.e. I'm a bit young to remember much of it personally, unlike Watergate and the fall of Saigon). How much effect it really had can be argued. One thing I do know is that even later the Paris talks weren't looking all that promising until at least 1972, and Thieu had to be strongarmed to go along. Whether Johnson/Humphrey could have delivered Thieu to the negotiating table even without interference is a question we'll never know the answer to.

There's plenty of things to dislike about Nixon. He's always been a mixed bag in a lot of ways. Yes, he was a crook. But, some of the diplomacy during his administration may have reduced the chance for nuclear war (détente with the USSR, and the opening with China).

In some ways, his Vietnam policy is similar to Obama's in Iraq. Then it was called Vietnamization, now it's called having the Iraqi's assume responsibility for their security. In the case of Nixon, we have 40 years of history to know it didn't work very well. In 40 years, we'll know a lot more about how Iraq works out.

Comment: Re:Hate Nixon (Score 1) 125

by Hartree (#48073079) Attached to: How President Nixon Saved/Wrecked the American Space Program

All depends on how you define "playing in that sandbox". We had several hundred military advisors there during the 50s. Now, you may be able to say that Truman was also "playing in that sandbox" while it was still French, but you can't say the US wasn't there in more than just casual numbers during Eisenhower's administration.

Now, if you mean standard combat troops, that was the Kennedy administration. But, advisors and intelligence personnel are a nebulous area (a bit like our current anti-gravity personnel in Iraq who in no ways have their "boots on the ground").

Comment: Re:Hate Nixon (Score 1) 125

by Hartree (#48068961) Attached to: How President Nixon Saved/Wrecked the American Space Program

"But.. if I feel like Nixon hating there is always Vietnam"

Which part do you hate him for? Ike and especially Kennedy were already playing in that sandbox. LBJ was the one to get the Tonkin Gulf resolution passed and massively enlarge the commitment of troops.

If it's that you think he lost the war, that was already well underway since the crisis of US public opinion after Tet. The draw down of troops and the cut off of ammunition to South Vietnam were nearly mandated as a result of public opinion and congressional action.

Yes, Nixon increased the bombing campaign and implemented a blockade, but also pursued peace talks with North Vietnam (The agreements which N. Vietnam basically violated when they pushed south.)

I've been appalled by how often when I've heard one of the younger set say that Nixon started the Vietnam War. That's a pretty major failure of history knowledge. I'm hoping that's not what you were thinking.

Comment: Re:Engines are more than just for movement: (Score 1) 174

by Hartree (#48061125) Attached to: A Garbage Truck That Would Make Elon Musk Proud

Sure. Or, just make it a hybrid drive with charging from the grid and have the best of both worlds.

Fire trucks are a small enough part of the vehicles out there to be less of a worry for efficiency. Reliability is a big thing for emergency vehicles.

There are a lot of garbage trucks and other utility type trucks out there that do short range stop and start runs that would probably make a lot bigger difference.

Comment: Re:Long distance freight: (Score 1) 174

by Hartree (#48061097) Attached to: A Garbage Truck That Would Make Elon Musk Proud

I'm quite familiar with intermodal transport. It becomes useful on longer runs. But, being able to just hook in to a powered feed is a lot more flexible.

For intermod, you have to have a truck and driver on either end of the rail link, plus the time to assemble the train, etc. It's quite efficient in a lot of ways, but unwieldy for mid range loads.

Comment: Long distance freight: (Score 1) 174

by Hartree (#48059709) Attached to: A Garbage Truck That Would Make Elon Musk Proud

The short haul is a lot easier to do with batteries.

I like the idea of catenary wires or some other way for a truck on a freeway to get electric power from the road itself.

Use battery or a hybrid system to get from the customer pick up to the nearest interstate and them hook up to the electric for the long drive, and let the truck drive itself. Have that lane separate from the manual driving lanes.

An alarm sounds when it's time for the driver to take back over (or stops the truck in a safe place if the driver fails to take back over).

Makes the control system for the automatic driving part much easier as it's just following a wire or other guide.

Comment: Engines are more than just for movement: (Score 5, Insightful) 174

by Hartree (#48059655) Attached to: A Garbage Truck That Would Make Elon Musk Proud

Fire trucks have to use their engines for extended periods to run the on board pumps during major fires.

Bad enough having to find a hydrant. Imagine having to find an electrical outlet with sufficient current capacity to keep electric pumps going after the batteries are down.

Comment: Lotsa Questions: (Score 1) 209

by Hartree (#48058839) Attached to: GlaxoSmithKline Released 45 Liters of Live Polio Virus

The links aren't very informative.

Is it one of the weakened strains that's used for making oral polio vaccine? Those aren't terribly dangerous as they're already given orally to kids. They also tend to be present in the water in the areas oral vaccine is still given, as people shed the vaccine strain virus as they are building immunity.

Is it a full up wild type polio that might be used at some stage of making the injected vaccine?

And that's just a couple of questions I've got. Details makes a difference.

Comment: Re:Well that's random (Score 4, Informative) 99

by Hartree (#48056805) Attached to: Physicists Observe the Majorana Fermion, Which Is Its Own Antiparticle

Not so random. Maybe a long ways distant. (i.e. It's vaporware, but give us more money.)

One of the problems of current quantum computing qubits is they are easily upset by thermal and other noise from their surroundings.

There are certain systems that involve Majorana fermions that have been theorized to be what are called topologically protected states. These would be largely immune to noise in a way similar to how electron pairs in a superconductor are immune to the normal energy losses that cause resistance in a wire.

A problem with this, is, we hadn't really shown that Majorana fermions actually existed.

This is a hot area of solid state physics research. Note that these are not particles in the usual sense, but things that behave like particles (like electron pairs in a superconductor behave kinda sorta like single particles). They fall under the general term of quasiparticles.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.