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Comment Re:Their requirements are lacking (Score 3, Interesting) 52

Most accidents occur at less than 40 mph; if "dozens of meters" equates to about 100 ft, that represents about 1.7 seconds at 40 mph. Assuming a coefficient of friction of 0.8, it is theoretically possible for a car traveling at 40 mph to stop in 67 ft; call it roughly 70 ft. If the system can apply the brakes within 500 ms, that's enough to be useful, although clearly it can't stop you from plowing into a car stopped in the fast lane of the highway.

Speaking of highways, the only reason people can manage to drive on highways is that the things you're most likely to hit are traveling in the same direction; if they were slaloming between stationary obstacles at 60 mph most drivers would be dead, fast. What makes highway driving safe is that the closing speed between vehicles is usually modest; usually on less than ten fifteen miles per hour. So actually the system might have more effect on the highway so long as speed discrepancies are in the normal range.

Comment Re: Alert! (Score 1) 323

I'll bet that for practical purposes you can't personally confirm general relativity, RNA to DNA reverse transcription, the role of the Coriolis effect in the formation of seasonal thermoclines in the ocean, or the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy. It doesn't mean those things aren't science.

"I can't confirm it" isn't the same as "I am unable or unwilling to put the effort it would take."

Comment Re:Or for slightly less per month (Score 4, Insightful) 80

Depends on how much you use the car. Drive a brand new car off the lot to the used car dealer across the street, and you'll find the car is now worth about half what you paid for it. It takes a lot of 3.5 krona minutes to make that instantaneous depreciation seem attractive.

Now if you're like most suburban-dwelling American, you spend hours a day in your car, so it just makes sense to buy it, or lease it long-term. But if you lived and worked in Manhattan you'd be nuts to own a car for transportation unless you were a gazillionaire. Just the cost of keeping the car would exceed the cost of renting one on the rare occasions you'd need it.

I suppose most people in Copenhagen are in the same boat. It's far more walkable than most American cities and enjoys excellent bicycle and pedestrian public transit infrastructure. But every so often you and several of your friends might want to take a trip that's a little inconvenient to take by transit. If that's every day several times a day then sure, buy a car. But if it's only occasionally then it doesn't make sense to have a car sitting and depreciating in a garage somewhere.

Comment Re:Alert! (Score 4, Insightful) 323

Exactly. Science is not a democracy. We don't get to vote on the rules of physics, they are what they are even if we agree with them or not.

However we have no way of getting to know those rules except through a social process in which scientists read and argue about each others' research.

Trust me, if the majority of scientists hadn't agreed on Newton's laws of motions you'd never have heard of him. Of course then we wouldn't be having this technology-mediated conversation; we'd probably be throwing rocks at each other instead.

People that believe we should reduce carbon output and also believe that nuclear power will kill us all are rejecting science twice over.

Disproof by counterexample: me. I think we should reduce carbon output and I think nuclear power could be useful, provided that plant developers post a bond to cover the decommissioning costs. I won't bother to address your point about wind power, but I do recommend you take the the drive from Los Angeles to Palm Springs sometime. You might find it enlightening.

A true scientist would admit we know very little about the environment. Anyone that says they've solved the equation is either delusional or trying to sell something. I'm not buying.

And no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge.

Just because scientists don't know *everything* doesn't mean they know *nothing*, or that they don't know enough to have a more informed opinion than a layman.

Comment Attention contrarian investors: (Score 1) 189

There's a reason they're called "wind farms": like a farms they have good years and bad years.

El Niños come every five to seven years, and then go away. It's called the "El Niño/Southern Oscillation", or ENSO, and we're bound to get the *opposite* end of ENSO some time in the next couple years (the so-called La Niña). So if this news has people dumping their wind stocks, this'd be a great year to buy. Then dump them in three years when the news sounds insanely good.

Comment Re:Our previous numbers were completely wrong. (Score 1) 257

The world is big, and hard to measure. So big that you can't measure a lot of things perfectly, you have to estimate them based on some kind of sample. For example to arrive at the three trillion number they obviously didn't go out and count every last tree on Earth. They took observations of samples and based on the best understanding they have extrapolated.

And even though that process is obviously not infallible, it is rational. Ignoring a problem because some of the numbers related to it might get revised in the future, or assuming different numbers because you prefer the outcome aren't rational. You have to use numbers, and use the best supported numbers you have. Or give up and go with something a bit more certain of its results, like astrology.

Comment Re: Sounds like (Score 1) 98

What your experience is like depends on which level of government you're working with. I had a business that had hundreds of municipal, county and state clients, and life was simple. You put in a bid at competitive price and when you won you signed a relatively straightforward, common sense contract Then in the post 9/11 era we started bidding on the bonanza of federal anti-bioterrorism projects and life got very complicated. The big consultancies we were competing with usually formed wholly owned subsidiaries so as to contain the arcane bookkeeping requirements. In a nutshell anyone can bid on contracts at the state level and below, but to bid on federal contracts you really need to specialize in that.

Oh, and there's a big difference between states too. Insofar as state or local governments work at all, its because there are good people in them that have to take a lot of shit from the public and from their deadwood colleagues; but generally places where the public is the most cynical have the most deadwood It's a chicken-or-egg thing. If public employees are

It helps to be connected anywhere of course, although ideally that shouldn't matter. It also helps anywhere to be personable, attractive (especially for women), and to like golf. We hired an engineer who was probably the second worst engineer we ever hired, but he played golf and liked to go out with the clients for a drink after work. Best. Hire. Ever.

Comment Re:What About Nutrition? (Score 4, Interesting) 119

Except this very local, which is the whole point.

Except that's not the whole point of organic agriculture. Organic farming has a number of points, some of which are valid, some of which are not.

Now the locality issue has to do with the sustainability arguments of organic advocates, which I consider generally more plausible than their ideas about nutrition or toxins. Centralizing agriculture far away and transporting pesticides and fertilizers to that site and then transporting the produce, sometimes half-way across the globe, represents a huge waste of energy, with the pollution that goes along with that.

That said, growing crops indoors with electricity derived from, say, a coal-fired power plant is hardly "sustainable agriculture". If you're growing those crops with solar or wind power from your roof that's possibly a different story.

In any case I'd regard a food system that was more local than what we have in the US to be a good thing. However I don't think that an *entirely* local food system would be a good idea. Yes, local agriculture has sustained human populations for thousands of years, but for thousands of years local famines were common too. So why I purchase locally grown produce, including excellent pasture-raised pork and beef, when it is in season, I don't feel guilty about purchasing Californian or Chilean produce when local produce is out of season, although I'd welcome some kind of "green seal" of sustainability, which would not necessarily be as stringent as, or necessarily a subset of the requirements for the "organic" label.

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