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Comment Re:Why go without GPS? (Score 1) 30 30

Indeed, Titan the easiest large world to explore by drone, so long as they tolerate the cryogenic conditions. A highly efficient version could potentially fly continuously just on RTG power (there have been proposals along these lines), although anything adapted to deal with the added weight / inefficiency of hardware to carefully land, collect samples, carry them, etc would probably have to use flight batteries.

Comment Re:Mickey Mouse copyirght extenstions... (Score 2) 78 78

And that's exactly where the current form of copyright not only fails to address its original purpose but actually works against its purpose.

The purpose was to give people an incentive to create works of art by giving them an monetary incentive to do so. If you can monopolize something great for a time (instead of fearing that whatever you create immediately being copied by anyone, rendering your work worthless), you have an incentive to create something great and reap the rewards of your work. That's fine.

Now, last thing I heard about "happy birthday" was that it makes 5 grand a DAY for Warner. Now, imagine you made "happy birthday". And got 5 grand a day from it. Where the fuck is your incentive to EVER create anything again? 5 grand a day? Fuck, I couldn't be assed to do anything but sit there and rake in the money for the rest of my life. Why bother work ever again if you already get more money than you can sensibly spend without doing anything?

Comment Re:French cowards (Score 1) 295 295

Where the hell do you get your history "knowledge" from?

Where does that "US invests in Germany" story come from? The US propped its economy up for another ten years with the money flowing in from Europe and the shit hit the fan a decade belatedly, but investment certainly was not the name of the game of the time. The money was mostly used to fund the bubble that popped in 1929 because there was simply nobody abroad that could actually serve as a demand for all the junk the US pumped out (in case this sounds familiar, well, history repeats itself).

But that was not even the main reason for the rise of the national socialists. The economy crisis itself (that started pretty much right after the war in Germany and most of the rest of Europe to a lesser degree) was even a minor reason. The main reason was the feeling of unfair treatment and the thirst for revenge.

George Clemeceau was the driving force behind the "crippling" of Germany. His idea was that a Germany that cannot wage war will secure France's eastern border. So his goal for the peace between Germany and France after WW1 was to ruin Germany. On the outside, that plan is solid: A country with no money, no political power and no military power is no threat.

What he didn't take into account was that a country that you abuse to the point of breaking will resist this treatment. Especially when the general feeling is that this treatment is not deserved.

The first reason for this was the front line at the end of WW1. When you look at the front line between Germany and France, you will notice that by the time the armistice was called, the front line was actually well within the territory of France. From the point of view of a German soldier, there was no obvious reason that they lost. Hell, we won territory! We ain't the losers here! And certainly not losers that deserve to be crippled in such a way!

Well, you also should take into account that a century ago, waging war was not an "evil" thing. War was, quite literally, just politics with other means. And it was seen as such. Wars also never had that kind of dimension before. War was something where two countries fight, after a while they settle, some territory changes hands and everyone moves on. That's what wars were like 'til then. The idea that wars end governments was pretty new then. But this just as a side note.

The army still standing rather deep in enemy territory when the armistice was signed and the "unfair" treatment by the French quickly led to the Dolchstosslegende, the myth that the German army was not really beaten but that it was assassinated by a stab in the back by ... well, insert you favorite internal enemy here. Jews, socialists, old government, pick your favorite scapegoat.

Combine this now with a peace that doesn't aim at peace but at crippling the country losing the battle and you probably find out why this is a breeding ground for radical ideologies. And we learned our lesson here. Any country you try to neutralize by ruining it will do anything to shake off those shackles. No matter the cost.

Comment Re: Truck Stops, Gas Stations, etc (Score 1) 869 869

I called you daft for not understanding the concept that someone who runs a swapping service station covers all costs related to their business activities and rolls them into what they charge for service, just like every other business does. I fail to see what is hard about this for you to understand. The answer to "who pays for X cost" is *always* "the service provider, with the costs indirectly passed on to their customers via the rate charged".

Really, you think that bad fuel can't damage an engine? It can and does. And it's the supplier who ultimately bears the cost. No, "bad electricity" is not a proper analogy (although your sarcasm in this regard is funny given how many devices are damaged by surges every year); a gas station fuels vehicles by insertung fuel into them, while a swapping station fuels vehicles by inserting pre-charged batteries into them. Batteries correspond to fuel in this context.

In what world do you live where car parts are regularly inspected by the manufacturer after being installed into the vehicle? Cars have hundreds if not thousands of parts more safety critical than a battery pack, and yes, manufacturers *are* liable if their failure modes due to damage pose an unreasonable risk of injury. Think of a famous failure case - say, for example, the Ford Pinto fires. Were the gas tanks defective? Nope. But the cars had an unacceptably bad failure mode in certain types of crashes, and it fell on the manufacturer to fix it - as it always does. A part must meet its use case, and if its use case is "deliver electricity from a swappable system and not burn the vehicle down if damaged", it has to contain the necessary safety systems to do that.

Lastly, you're still stuck in bizarro world where ICE vehicles full of combustible fuel are incombustible, whereas EVs with no combustable fuel and more often than not with batteries less flammable than a block of cheese (once again: *not all li-ions are the same*!) burst into flames left and right. Meanwhile, in the reality that the rest of us live in, the opposite is true. Heck, last summer I saw a flaming hulk of a passenger car with fire crews trying to put it out to extract the burned bodies of the two tourists who had been driving it. Meanwhile, Teslas and Leafs have been in many wrecks - go to Google Images and search for "crash tesla" or "crash leaf". Where are the fires from these oh-so-flammable vehicles? Yes, they have happened, but at a much lower per-vehicle rate than gasoline cars according to NTSB stats. Sorry, but your fire conceptions are just not based in reality.

Comment Re:Why go without GPS? (Score 2) 30 30

On the Moon or Mars they wouldn't reach very far. But a RTG-powered version on Titan would have unlimited range (although may need to land periodically to recharge its flight batteries). And even a rocket or gas jet version would have quite significant range on an asteroid.

Such a design is obviously going to be very mission sensitive, hence the need for different propulsion systems. Some missions would benefit significantly as well from wings to allow for long distance flight on bodies with atmospheres (Venus, Titan, maybe Mars, etc). A couple worlds, such as Titan, might benefit from landing floats. And so forth. But that's where rapid prototyping tech (such as 3d printing) becomes useful - they engineer the base model and then can play around with variants with ease. Hopefully in the end they'll have a sample collector module with a workable version for almost any body in the solar system. And for the interests of science, we really need something like that, a universal adaptable drone module - to be paired with a universal adaptable ion tug module, one of a couple variants of a universal adaptable reentry / landing modules, and the same for adaptable ascent modules.

It's impressive what science can be pulled off on the surface of another world. But it's nothing compared to what we can do here on Earth with a sample return.

Comment Re:Truck Stops, Gas Stations, etc (Score 1) 869 869

In one truck, yes. The frequency of dead batteries, however, will be the same as passenger vehicles; who will dispose of those?

Seriously, you can't be this daft. The operator, of course, with the price rolled into the service cost.

All of which are relatively involved.

No, they're not. Even your laptop battery estimates its capacity, and that's about as simple as li-ion battery packs get. Coulomb counting, voltage measurements at start and end compared to the charge temperature, charge voltage curve shapes, direct measurement of pack heating over the course of charge to measure internal resistance, and about half a dozen other methods are all usable and widely used to estimate capacity remaining in a pack. Pretty much every modern EV and hybrid in existence checks its battery pack's performance at least at the pack level, if not the individual cell level (Tesla does it at the "brick" level), to see how it's aging and when components or the pack as the whole need to be replaced.

Measuring remaining battery capacity is a concept older than the light bulb.

testing and inspecting a battery for damage and danger conditions so you don't install it into someone's vehicle and get a lawsuit for "vehicle exploded in a giant flaming blaze" (or drive all your customers away with "we don't test our batteries for anything but charge, and damaged batteries may set your truck on fire") is wholly different.

Just like gas stations check their gas for impurities that can cause damage to an engine? No, it's the manufacturer's issue to ensure that the product meets its stated usage specs - in this case, the specs including safe handling of damage and X number of swap cycles. Meeting damage control specs is why Tesla isolates each cell in a canister to prevent failure propagation. And why packs always come with fuses/breakers that blow when the pack gets wet or there's otherwise a short.

(Just ignoring that many types of li-ions don't burn even when abused. Tesla uses standard cobalt-based 18660s, which is why they have to have a failure isolation system, but vehicles like the Volt and Leaf use more stable spinel chemistries)

That may result in diesel being the cheaper fuel by far

Tesla's battery packs have an 8 year, unlimited-mile warranty. Even if we assume that they're only good for 1000 full charge cycles (which should be well on the low end), at 30 tonne-miles per kWh of charge, times 1000 cycles, and $150/kWh for the pack, that's 200 tonne-miles per dollar of pack capital cost. A diesel truck will get about 120 tonne-miles per gallon of diesel, and diesel costs somewhere in the ballpark of 6x more than electricity per unit range (depends on your location), meaning that the electric version saves about 3-4$ per dollars of energy cost per dollar of pack capital cost.

There are a lot more batteries on a truck.

Wait, so you're picturing them being done individually, one after the next? Seriously? *smacks forehead*

Fortunately, if you mount batteries under there without a bunch of armored doors and other shit to hold it all together, the cargo container catches fire when the batteries become damaged.

In the parallel world where EVs are always catching on fire, and petroleum-fueled vehicles aren't - quite unlike our actual world.

Comment Re:First note to the PAs on the new show: (Score 4, Interesting) 202 202

You know, that would be the best prank ever. Convincing Clarkson that he's getting a new TV show but having the actual point being to secretly film him when he's not acting for the fake "show", as they subject him to situations that would be increasingly uncomfortable for a speed-obsessed labour-hating hot-headed racist diva. Sort of "Top Gear" crossed with "An Idiot Abroad". ;)

Comment Re:Truck Stops, Gas Stations, etc (Score 1) 869 869

How old are the batteries? Do you own your battery? What is a battery worth? Do you load your truck with aging, unreliable batteries to swap-off with other aging, unreliable batteries?

When it comes to a truck which will have a sizeable number of large batteries, you're pretty much statistically guaranteed to never have more than a dud or two so long as the battery management process is sound.

As a service station manager, how do you test each of these batteries to ensure its safety and reliability (its level of aging)

By, for example, any of the dozen or so methods already used for this purpose?

As a service station manager, how do you offset the cost of rotating out old batteries traded in by truckers?

By rolling that into the swapping cost?

Could you please ask questions a little harder than "What does 1+1 equal?" I'm seriously not getting why you don't already know the answer to these questions you're asking.

Changing batteries in something like a truck is a labor-intensive process.

Wait a minute, you think that when people talk about battery swap they're talking about someone going up and swapping batteries by hand?

mounting may preclude a fast removal operation.

Many companies have already demonstrated battery swap for cars, which is a far harder target than trucks. With trucks, my preferred mounting is on the trailers themselves (with the cab having its own, non-swappable batteries). You already have, today, stuff mounted to the underside of trailers. It's right where the structural strength is already located and you have tons of open space underneath for easy access and standard form factors. It's an order of magnitude easier challenge than for cars, which you practically have to have disassemble their frames to get their batteries out.

The operation may take 40 minutes overall

Battery swap in the much harder case of cars can be done in less than a tenth that time.

Mounting the batteries affects balance, thus handling, thus safety

And you're envisioning that one would load all of the batteries only on one side or something...?

Think about it as if you were going to swap an entire, pre-filled gas tank

And think about having the tank you plan to switch out be a standardized external tank mounted in a standard form factor on a standard trailer.

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